Interfaith leaders push for special committee for other religions

Mohd Farhan Darwis

Malaysian Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Taoist Consultative Council president Jagir Singh says Madani Malaysia also needs non-Islamic views. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 17, 2023.

PUTRAJAYA should establish a special committee for other religions apart from strengthening the role and position of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), interfaith group leaders said.

The leaders said the special committee for non-Muslim religions will enable them to preserve the rights of non-Muslims.

Former Hindu Sangam president Mohan Shan said Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim cannot be frowned upon for strengthening or giving more roles to Jakim.

“Do not prevent or do something that affects other religions.

“Don’t do something that will result in religious and racial discord,” Mohan told the Malaysian Insight.

He was commenting on Anwar’s pledge to expand Jakim’s role in accordance with the Madani Malaysia slogan in the administration of the unity government.

Anwar last Sunday said he had expanded the functions of Jakim, which included preaching, training and organising recitation and memorisation of the Quran.

Mohan said the government has every right to strengthen the role and position of Jakim because Islam is the official religion of the country.

He said they did not ask to be given a position with equal rights like Jakim but hoped to be given a role to help unify the country.

“That is the government’s right, it should protect Islam as the official religion. I think it is not wrong to strengthen and expand their responsibility to protect the sovereignty of Islam.

“But at the same time the prime minister has to think about non-Muslim committees.

“Other religions must also be given an important role to protect their religion. We are not asking for equal rights but we are asking that our rights not be prohibited,” he said.

Interfaith leaders say there is nothing wrong with the government strengthening the role and position of Jakim because Islam is the official religion of the country. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 17, 2023.

Another interfaith leader, Jagir Singh, said their opinions should also be taken into account in any plan involving the development of the country.

The president of the Malaysian Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Taoist Consultative Council (MCCBCHST) said national development involves all citizens regardless of background.

“If it is to draw up a national development plan, it is appropriate that non-Muslims also be invited.

“Because this involves all the people in the country,” he said.

Jagir said MCCBCHST also recognised Jakim’s role involving the interests of Muslims in this country.

However, adhering to the principles in the country, the opinions of other religious authorities can also be taken into account for that purpose.

“Jakim can give views on the Islamic religion, but if we get the views of other religions, we can also contribute to the plan.

“Madani Malaysia needs non-Islamic views, so we should be involved.

“It is right to involve other religions,” Jagir said.

He said MCCBCHST has not been involved by the government for that purpose.

“We represent the five main religions in the country. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, and Taoism, but there has been no meeting with the government yet.

“That (principle) of Madani Malaysia is for all citizens, for all people, so they should invite us,” he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Mohd Na’im Mokhtar on Wednesday announced that Jakim was planning to expand its role.

One of the things he said it will focus on is translating the concept of maqasid sharia and Islamic values with various agencies in government policy.

The policy involves economic development, poverty eradication, environmental conservation, education and social strengthening, he said.

Na’im said Jakim currently leads the management of Islamic affairs at the federal level and is the secretariat of the Malaysian National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI).

MKI, which was established by the Council of Rulers in 1968, coordinates the administration of Islam throughout the country.

Jakim’s functions at this time include the drafting and standardisation of Islamic law, the coordination and development of Islamic education and the coordination of Islamic administration.

The implementation of that function involves a limited number of related agencies and specifically concerning Islamic affairs only, said Na’im. –  June 17, 2023.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.