Ex-mufti defends G25 against calls for probe

Ismail Yahya, former mufti of Terengganu, says criticisms should be viewed with an open mind.

PETALING JAYA: A former Terengganu mufti, Ismail Yahya, has defended the G25 group of retired senior civil servants from calls for the group to be investigated by the authorities.

Ismail said there was “no need to find fault” with G25 which had merely stated its views on the constitutionality of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the National Council for Islamic Affairs.

There was no need for G25 to be investigated, he told FMT, when met at a forum here this evening. A coalition of Muslim NGOs has urged that G25 be investigated by the authorities over its statement yesterday questioning the legality of the two government agencies.

However, Ismail said: “It is merely an opinion of one organisation. There is no need to find fault. We should consider their views. We accept the good, and reject the bad.”

G25 had also spoke out against apostasy laws, stating that a Muslim’s decision to leave Islam was a personal one between the individual and God.

This led to the Malaysian Islamic Organisations Consultative Council (Mapim) calling for an investigation to ensure G25 did not breach any laws on the position of Islam in the country.

However, Ismail said that Jakim should do something to make itself a legitimate agency, adding that failure to do so would open it up to criticism, especially as it receives hundreds of millions in annual federal allocations.

On those leaving Islam

When asked to comment on G25’s views on apostasy, Ismail said that the issue fell under the shariah court’s jurisdiction, and there was no issue about G25 stating their views.

He said the courts could declare if a person is no longer a Muslim. “There is no problem. There is no issue as there have been cases of individuals leaving Islam.”

On calls by G25 for Putrajaya and the state governments to decide once and for all which administration should oversee religious education in the country, Ismail said it would be better if the federal government took charge if uniformity was sought.

G25 member Hishamudin Yunus had said it is currently unclear who has jurisdiction over religious institutions, including tahfiz schools, noting that there was a grey area as education is a federal matter, while Islam is a state matter.

G25’s views were given in a report on “Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam” presented at a forum in Kuala Lumpur and referred to the National Council for Islamic Affairs, which is instituted as the highest national authority for the coordination of Islamic administrative matters, and Jakim, which serves as its secretariat.