Break down barriers, not build them, Jakim told

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid says Jakim is filled with bureaucrats instead of scholars. (ISEAS pic)

PETALING JAYA: An academic has urged the government to ensure that the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) broaden the scope of its work beyond its current preoccupation with legal issues.

Welcoming Putrajaya’s decision to evaluate Jakim’s role in the government, political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the department needed to be relevant to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

“As an example, it could initiate dialogues since not many are taking the initiative to do so,” he told FMT.

He claimed that many people saw Jakim as being obsessed with building barriers between Muslims and non-Muslims. “There are rigid boundaries and there’s even extremism,” he said.

He attributed the department’s “failure to play its proper role as an Islamic agency” to its alleged preference for bureaucrats over scholars in its recruitment of employees.

“Most of them lay more stress on Islamic law than Islamic philosophy and other branches of Islam,” he said.

He proposed that the revamped Jakim, when recruiting employees, ensure that they have the competence to discourse on contemporary issues affecting Islam, such as global terrorism and the challenges posed by movements advocating gay and transgender rights. They should be able to offer credible solutions, he added.

He said Jakim needed to expand its research division and avoid giving the impression that it was concerned only with so-called deviant teachings.

He also said it should not duplicate the role played by state religious bodies and should not be used as a political tool.

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