PUTRAJAYA: Mujahid Yusof Rawa has defended the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA) after the G25 group of retired senior civil servants questioned their legality.
The minister in charge of Islamic affairs said as Islam was the official religion of the Federation, Putrajaya could set up a department or council to manage its administration at the federal and state levels.
Jakim, he added, had evolved from a religious unit in the Prime Minister’s Department to an Islamic Affairs division before becoming the Jakim of today.
“Jakim was set up to cater to the current needs, including when it comes to managing the budget for the administration of Islamic matters. This includes allowances for imams and administrators of mosques nationwide. So how can it be unconstitutional?
“G25 should refer to us first so we can explain it to them. Why must this be an issue? Many will perceive them as disrespecting Islam,” he told reporters here.
At a forum on Saturday, G25 alleged that the government took unconstitutional actions when it established the NCIA and Jakim.
In a report on the “Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam”, the group said there were no provisions in the constitution for the two bodies to be set up.
The NCIA was instituted to be the highest national authority for the coordination of Islamic administrative matters. Jakim serves as its secretariat.
Mujahid also hit out at G25 for criticising the RM1.3 billion in allocations Jakim received, saying 60% was set aside for allowances of imams and other personnel, while the remaining 40% was for administrative purposes.
He also said that he was tired of explaining the matter as the issue had been explained to G25 previously.
“Why are they afraid of huge allocations when they are used to pay religious teachers in villages? They should be thankful that we are managing such things.”
Mujahid also said G25 should be realistic after they also spoke out against apostasy laws.
G25 had at the same forum said that a Muslim’s decision to leave Islam was a personal one between the individual and God.
But Mujahid said the laws were enacted to uphold the faith.
He also said there were very few cases of Muslims, who were born into the faith, who wanted to leave Islam. Most of those who do, he said, were converts.
“Therefore, it’s merely a philosophical debate.”
Mujahid said if there were laws that allowed for apostasy, then many would leave Islam and this was not in the interest of safeguarding the religion.
“So they need to step into reality.”