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Malaysia: Islamic Councils Want More Guidelines On How Conduct In Non-Muslim Celebrations – OpEd

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By Yong Yen Nie

Malaysia’s Islamic council has proposed that the government should draw up a guideline to regulate interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims, to avoid confusion between the two groups on conduct during religious celebrations. This is on top of guidelines that are already in existence on how Muslims should conduct during a non-Muslim religious festival.

The country’s Islamic Cleric Association said the guidelines would be the solution to religious issues faced by multi-racial Malaysia. The guidelines has the backing of former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who pushed for the guidelines “to ensure good relations in multi-ethnic Malaysia”.

“These guidelines are very necessary. Through these guidelines, we can have good relations. As with the Islam Hadhari I implemented before, they are not in conflict with other religions,” he was quoted as saying here.

The Islamic cleric association had earlier urged Muslims not to attend non-Muslim religious festivals, after the current Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife visited an Indian temple in conjunction with Thaipusam celebrations.

His visit sparked debate among Muslim clerics on whether his visit to an Indian temple was un-Islamic or not.

The Malaysia Department of Islamic Development already has guidelines for Muslims celebrating religious festivals of non-Muslims. Under these guidelines, wearing red costumes like Santa Claus or having Christmas tree are examples of activities against the Islamic law.

The Islamic Cleric Association has called for the National Fatwa Council to be given the task to draw up another guideline to ensure there would be no more dividing opinion from those who did not have authority on Islam. According to The Star, the National Fatwa Council has recently banned Muslims from involving themselves with foreign exchange trading but trading by money changers or between banks are permitted as they do not involve currency speculation.

Malaysia is made up of majority Muslims, but upholds the Federal Constitution as its supreme law. However, the country has a two-court system, whereby offences against the Islamic faith, including conversion of faith, is judged via the Islamic courts.

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