By Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
In recent days, there has been some confusion on comments made by the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) regarding the state district office (PPD) of Kuantan proposing that compulsory congregational prayers be held in national schools.
In this regard, we would like to clarify firstly that at no point in time did PAGE issue any warning to PPD Kuantan on this matter.
We also regret that some of our comments were misconstrued, and for this we apologise if it caused any distress.
PAGE’s comments were never aimed at undermining Islam. There is no doubt whatsoever that prayers for all Muslims are compulsory (wajib) – a pillar of Islam.
While we do not question the authority of PPD Kuantan to organise, propose or encourage congregational prayers in schools, we do take cognisance of the fact that national schools are for all races and religions and a certain level of pragmatism and general environment of inclusiveness should be practised in a multiracial school.
However, the implementation of congregational prayers may be a challenge. The schools will need to exercise discretion, and due consideration should be given based on practicality and suitability so as to not inconvenience the staff or the students.
Any Muslim student should be allowed to opt out of these congregational prayers without having to face any embarrassment or punishment.
We stand by our statement that sekolah kebangsaan are by their name national schools, which should portray and practise an inclusive spirit and atmosphere for all young Malaysians irrespective of race or religion.
Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim is PAGE chairperson.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.