Johor rejects plan for Indonesian Islamic varsity to open campus

PETALING JAYA: The Johor state government today rejected Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s plans to allow the Universiti Muhammadiyah Prof Dr Hamka (Uhamka) to open a branch in Pagoh.

State Religious Affairs and Education Committee chairman Aminolhuda Hassan said the decision was made by the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAINJ) due to the different practices adopted by Uhamka.

“Their practices differ slightly from what the majority of us here practise,” Aminolhuda told FMT.

“We presume they will preach their school of thought and practices in Islam. That is why MAINJ and I don’t think it is suitable for Johor,” he said.

In July last year, Maszlee was reported to have given his blessings to the opening of Uhamka in Malaysia.

Aminolhuda said he would be meeting Maszlee soon to discuss this matter.

“We have contacted Maszlee’s aides and a meeting will be held at a time and date to be fixed.”

Johor executive councillor Aminolhuda Hassan.

He said no details on the cost or courses offered by Uhamka were provided by Maszlee.

However, he said Maszlee told him if the state government disagreed with the plan, he would accept the decision.

Earlier, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had said the fatwa (Islamic rulings) issued by Uhamka contradict those of the state.

Johor, like other states, practises Islam based on the Shafie school of thought whereas it is reported that Uhamka does not belong to any particular sect in Islam.

Sultan Ibrahim said any educational courses or matters pertaining to Islam must be referred to MAINJ and obtain his approval as the head of Islam in the state.

It was reported that Muhammadiyah University has more than 10,000 employees in 173 campuses throughout Indonesia. Of this number, 45 are universities while the rest are secondary schools, academic centres and polytechnics.

An Indonesian news portal quoted Muhammadiyah Indonesia centre manager Prof Suyatno as saying he had met Maszlee, who had given his approval for the group to build its first campus outside Indonesia in Malaysia.