Penang mufti says better SOP needed for khalwat raids

GEORGE TOWN: A mufti here has called for better standard operating procedures (SOPs) for conducting khalwat (close proximity) raids, so as not to sully the image of Islam as a religion of tolerance.

Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor said while there was no denying that state Islamic laws were put in place to prevent khalwat and other sinful activities, enforcement of such laws should not encroach into people’s personal space and privacy.

“For example, the mere act of raiding or breaking into a hotel room arbitrarily, based on assumptions or reports whose veracity is questionable. Doing such a thing would give a wrong impression of Islam as a religion that is just and tolerant to all,” he said when contacted.

Salim said Islam also prohibited people from exposing their wrongdoing, let alone “membuka aib” (the shame) of those who sinned, in this case, khalwat offenders.

He said this was based on a Quranic verse, surah al-Hujurat: 12 and hadith Abu Hurairah and Ibnu Umar.

“So, those who are involved in maksiat such as adultery, consumption of alcohol and others are advised to be quiet about it and submit yourself to Allah in repentance from such wrongdoings.

“Revealing such misdeeds in the open would only serve to sully the good name of the person and, at the same time, present a form of encouragement for weak-willed people to copy.”

Salim said this was the principle that was likely conveyed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa, whose interview on religious policing turned controversial when a report gave the impression that he was tolerant of khalwat. The daily in question has since clarified the report.

Salim said ultimately, religious officials should keep a close watch on all Muslims from afar, and policymakers should enact more laws to prevent maksiat from recurring.

“Of course, Islamic authorities have a role in encouraging the good and getting rid of the bad. But this has to be promoted in a prudent manner, not the other way around.

“Hence, proper SOPs should be put in place. For starters, a guideline should be formulated. And this should be guided by public interest so that it is fair to all,” he said.