PETALING JAYA: Amanah communications director Khalid Samad has accused religious authorities of enforcing an un-Islamic law which prohibits people from speaking about Islam without having officially recognised credentials.
The accusation comes after organisers of a talk featuring Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol were forced to cancel the event following pressure from Islamic authorities.
Officers from the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) went to the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur campus an hour before the start of a forum on the theme of Akyol’s latest work, “The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims”.
The officers issued summonses to both Akyol and Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) director Farouk Musa. IRF was the organiser of the forum.
Jawi accuses Akyol of teaching without official credentials from the religious authorities, an offence under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act.
Khalid told FMT it was his personal opinion that the law was un-Islamic as it went against a teaching of Prophet Muhammad.
“Our religion teaches us that our Prophet said: ‘Preach from me even if it is only one line,'” he said.
“Some scholars even say that it is incumbent upon every Muslim to speak about Islam because each and every Muslim brings with him the message of Islam.”
Last January, Khalid was fined RM2,900 by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) after he was found guilty of giving a religious talk at a surau in Taman Seri Sementa in 2011 without valid credentials.
“They want to say that only those who are authorised can speak about Islam and there is no clear definition on what ‘teaching’ is.
“Of course, the practice can be justified on the basis of wanting to stop the spread of erroneous teachings. But in my case and the Turkish journalist’s, the question of erroneous teaching does not arise.
“They are just using the law to prevent certain people from talking about Islam and, unfortunately, it can be used by people with political interests.”
He pointed out that any law which was not clearly defined could be misused for political interests.
“In my case, it could be that they didn’t want Amanah to be seen talking about Islam or concerned about Islam or that its members have knowledge of Islam because that would be an added advantage against Barisan Nasional.”
He said it was important to look back at the law and see how it could be more clearly defined so that only erroneous teachings would not be allowed.
“I would suggest that you use that law only when it applies to erroneous teachings and if it doesn’t, then there’s no need to use it.
“In fact, you should encourage people to talk about Islam.
“If you don’t do that, then even the prime minister can be charged under the law if he repeats what the Prophet said.”
He said that in his case, even the Jais officers agreed with what he was saying. “But their argument was that it didn’t mean I hadn’t committed an offence.”