SHAH ALAM: Mosques in Selangor have been instructed to deliver a sermon which attacks Shia Muslims for tomorrow’s Friday congregations, in what critics have slammed as a fresh round of hate speech by authorities targeting religious minorities.
The sermon, prepared by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) ahead of an important Shia occasion next week, describes Shia Muslim beliefs and practices as “deviant”, “heinous”, “nonsense” and “nauseating”.
A prominent critic of Islamic authorities said the sermon was tantamount to hate speech against religious minorities.
“Not only is the sermon full of hatred, it is also replete with lies and inaccuracies.
“Perhaps Jais should first learn about Shiism from the primary source and understand that the Sunni-Shia divide today isn’t so much about theological differences, but more of politics,” said Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who heads Muslim reforms group Islamic Renaissance Front.
A copy of the sermon sighted by FMT among others urges Muslims to be the “eyes and ears” of the authorities, adding that they should report anyone who follows Shia Islam practices.
“The fatwa pertaining to Shia was issued and gazetted in Selangor in 1989 and 2013. Hence, the Muslim ummah no longer have an excuse to be influenced by the Shia ideology that ensnares its victims through various ways including private and public institutions for higher education, umrah agencies, tuition centres, Quran classes, children’s books, novels, comics, and others,” according to the text of the sermon distributed to mosques in the state.
The sermon comes ahead of Muharram 10 next week, a day marking the death of Hussain, the central figure in Shia Islam who was also the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Shia, with a substantial following in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, is the second largest branch of Islam.
But its teachings are labelled as deviant by Malaysia’s Islamic authorities, who have in the past raided the private religious events of its adherents.
Fatwas have been issued in most states declaring Shia Muslims as “deviant”, while mosques in Selangor have for years included a prayer condemning the school of thought during Friday sermons.
Farouk said those who prepared the sermon are ignorant of the power politics in the Muslim world, and how the Shia-Sunni conflict narrative was sparked by Saudi Arabia in the wake of the 1979 Iranian revolution which he said had “sent shivers down the spine of the Saudi monarch”.
“This revolution was basically a rude shock to the leadership of Saudi as it argued that Islam and hereditary kingship were incompatible. So why should we in this country be propagating hatred towards Shia?” asked Farouk.
Outspoken novelist Faisal Tehrani agreed, saying Jais officials are still “playing the Saudi tune”.
“Are we colonised by the Wahhabists? I thought we just celebrated Merdeka. We need to check this. I am afraid that we are not that free as claimed,” Faisal, whose works have been banned over claims that they promote Shia Islam, told FMT.
Faisal said the sermon also makes a mockery of Putrajaya’s slogans of moderation promoted by Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs.
He said scholars feted by Putrajaya themselves have no problems regarding Shia as fellow Muslims.
They include Mauritanian scholar Abdullah Bayyah, who was this year’s recipient of the Maal Hijrah Award.
“His stand is very clear. He stated, let me quote, ‘We should try to work with Shias who are living in this type of society with us, on the same basis, on working on the things that we agree with and avoiding the things that we don’t agree with’,” Faisal said.
Faisal warned that tomorrow’s sermon would encourage criminal acts against Shia adherents, citing the case of Perlis activist Amri Che Mat who went missing in what is believed to be an abduction.
“If this sermon leads to serious stigmatisation and further, another abduction, can we hold the sermon’s writer responsible?” Faisal asked.