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Monday August 8, 2016
11:21 AM GMT+8

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Pokemon Go players joining the quest to catch cartoon monsters in KLCC park, Kuala Lumpur, Aug 7, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy MayPokemon Go players joining the quest to catch cartoon monsters in KLCC park, Kuala Lumpur, Aug 7, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The Federal Territories (FT) Mufti’s office has clarified that the cleric did not declare Pokemon Go as “haram” (forbidden), saying he merely stated that it should be “avoided” if harm from the hit mobile game outweighed the benefits.

Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri’s office said news reports claiming that he had banned Muslims in the Federal Territories from playing the augmented reality game, which was launched in Malaysia Saturday, were inaccurate and had brought disrepute to the Mufti’s office, the edict authorities and to Islamic scholars in general.

“If the edict that was issued by the Jawatankuasa Perundingan Hukum Syarak Wilayah Persekutuan (The Wilayah Persekutuan Consultation Committee of Syarie Laws) is thoroughly read through, the Mufti never did use the word ‘Haram’ in any part of the edict,” said the FT Mufti’s office in a statement yesterday.

“The Mufti instead used words that shows his preference that it should be towards haram, where the Mufti said the game ‘SHOULD BE AVOIDED if the game itself causes more harm than benefit’. The main reason the Mufti did not use the word ‘Haram’ is because it is not something that is ‘qat’ie’ (it is not something explicitly forbidden by the Quran or Sunnah),” they added.

Zulkifli said in a statement Friday that fatwas, or edicts, issued in other countries, such as the 2001 one by influential Egypt-born cleric Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi against Pokemon, had basis and that Pokemon Go and Pokemon must be avoided if the games were harmful.

He also said then that Pokemon Go “affirms powers and the powers of certain gods, plus it can lead to gambling” and that “arguments about how playing Pokemon is ‘haram’ have strong grounds”.

The Pokemon Go phenomenon is based on a 1990s game but updated with the latest technology that superimposes virtual creatures onto real world locations, and allows players to view and capture them through their smartphones.  

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