KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya’s top advisory council has invited at least three muftis as well as independent Muslim scholars, academics and activists, believed to be part of its feedback gathering process to hear views on the future of the administration of Islam under the new government.
A source close to the five-member Council of Eminent Persons said those called include leaders of conservative Islamic groups as well as “more liberal and left-leaning” prominent Muslims.
“They are academics, NGO heads, ulama and authors. They come from contrasting backgrounds,” the source told FMT.
Calls for reforms of Islamic institutions have been renewed in the wake of the arrest of Siti Kasim, the human rights lawyer who is among the most vocal critics of Islamic bureaucracy in the country.
Over the years, Muslim leaders have questioned state Islamic authorities as well as the federal-controlled Department of Islamic Development or Jakim, over what is perceived as their penchant to impose a more rigid form of Islam in the country.
Influential government religious officers have also been blamed for a spate of controversial religious rulings as well as the banning of hundreds of books over the years on the topic of Islam.
Jakim has also come under the microscope, and leaders in both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan (PH) have called for its dismantling, saying its powers are against the constitutional provision that matters of Islam come under the purview of state rulers.
Earlier this year, veteran politician and Umno presidential hopeful Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah blamed the formation of Jakim on what he said was a race between Umno and PAS over who was more Islamic.
Since taking power last month, the PH government under Dr Mahathir Mohamad has indicated that it will look into reforms of the country’s Islamic administration.