GEORGE TOWN: Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor advised Muslims against being involved in the Bon Odori festival for fear it could lead to “syirik” (polytheism).
Wan Salim said Muslims should always preserve the purity of their Islamic faith by avoiding such festivals.
“Since the festival is linked to remembering the souls or spirits of ancestors, it is feared that it could lead to polytheism.
“Remembering the souls of the ancestors by dancing, worshipping their spirits and others is not encouraged in Islam,” he said in a statement here today.
Yesterday, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (religious affairs) Idris Ahmad was reported to have said that the Islamic development department (Jakim) found that the Bon Odori festival had elements of other religions.
As such, Muslims were advised against participating in the event which would be held at the Shah Alam National Sports Complex on July 16.
Meanwhile, Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman, Yeoh Soon Hin in a separate event said the state government did not plan to cancel the event scheduled for July 30.
He said that, in the context of Penang, it did not contain elements of worship or certain religious rituals.
He said the festival had been held in Penang for the last 10 years, and it was to strengthen long-established ties between Malaysia and Japan. This, he said, could indirectly help spur the economy and tourism in the state.
According to Yeoh, the festival held in Penang before Covid-19 could attract over 10,000 visitors and the state government expected attendance this year to exceed 5,000 people.
Meanwhile, in Putrajaya, the Malaysian Islamic charity council (MAIM), under Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia, said Muslims should not be celebrating the festivals of other religions that involve matters of faith.
Its chairman, Najhan Shahir Halim, said the ban was based on the Quran and hadiths (narrative record of the sayings or customs of Prophet Muhammad and his companions) and the five maqasid shariah (objectives or purposes behind the Islamic rulings) principles which among others protected religion, life and the mind.
Nevertheless, he urged Muslims to respect the cultures and beliefs of other religions.