PETALING JAYA: A prominent Muslim critic of Islamic bureaucracy has strongly condemned remarks by a Selangor religious official suggesting that the spread of Shia teachings posed a security threat to Muslims.
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) said that Mohammed Khusrin Munawi, chairman of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) should be reminded that none of those who have been detained for terrorist activities in Malaysia were adherents of Shia Islam.
“In fact, all the jihadis that we’ve detained belong to one specific branch of Islam. What the Shias wanted were just space for them to practise what they believe,” said Farouk, a staunch critic of Wahhabism, which is said to be the teaching which inspired groups such as Al Qaeda and IS.
Shia Islam, the second largest branch of Islam, is predominantly followed in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan.
Islamic authorities in Malaysia have over the years enforced a fatwa declaring Shia teachings as “deviant”, with raiding parties targetting local Shias during their private religious gatherings.
Khusrin recently said the number of Shia Muslim centres in Selangor has been on the rise and “certain quarters” have been actively promoting Shia Islam, adding that authorities also found it difficult to curb its teachings on the internet.
He said Islamic agencies in the state would continue to warn Muslims against the “dangers” of Shia teachings.
However Farouk said Khusrin’s stand only showed that Jais was promoting “an intolerant religion in this modern age”.
“Whereas Islam flourished in the West and secular democratic countries simply because the preservation of the religious rights of the minorities were observed. But sadly, for Jais, only their brand of Islam is allowed to be practised,” Farouk told FMT.
He challenged the notion that allowing different schools of thoughts among Malaysian Muslims would be a threat, saying this was not the case in other parts of the Muslim world.
“Why is that all the different denominations in Islam can live harmoniously in Oman, where the official mazhab is Ibadi,” he asked, referring to the predominant school of thought in parts of North Africa.
“Sunnis, Shias and Ibadis observe their prayer side by side in Oman,” said Farouk.
“Obviously there is a lot to be learned from Oman or the West on this issue of religious tolerance.”
Farouk said statements such as Khusrin’s were tantamount to hate speech, and could be stopped if the Pakatan Harapan government recognises the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“We need a new foreign minister who understands ICCPR,” he added.
“As long as this UN Convention is not ratified, people like Khusrin will roam around freely spewing hatred on other religious minorities and act tyrannically exerting their religious iron fist.
“There must be a stop to this nonsense. The government of the day must be strong enough to prove their commitment to bring about change and to show the world our commitment to human rights,” said Farouk.