Harussani Zakaria, the Mufti of Perak, is known as an intolerant cleric and non compassionate cleric, for a man purportedly of God.
Early this year, in February he placed on his department website a poll asking visitors what to do with those who published the blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The online poll offered 6 answers, where one was "Hunt and kill them or launch war against them”.
OK, that was just a poll, which would have questions ranging through the entire spectrum of opinions, but we need to note the Perak Mufti has a notorious consistency in his intolerance. For example, he had advocated exiling people affected by HIV-AIDS to an island to live in isolation from society, even when we now have the medical knowledge to know that the terrible disease is not spread by air, water or normal contact.
Additionally, innocent people like medical professions or the police could be infected during the course of their duties. Society has the facilities and knowhow to attend to and mitigate the sufferers' ailments, instead of exiling the victims to an island.
A Malaysiakini writer wrote of the Mufti that "he has failed to display ‘ihsan’ or compassion, empathy and sensitvity ..."
The writer lamented that the Perak Mufti with his ignorant understanding of HIV/AIDS showed how shallow and inconsiderate he has been.
My sweetheart, Marina Mahathir, former president of Malaysian Aids Council, criticised the Malaysian government [indirectly her own father who was PM then] for failing to train the senior people in the religious establishment, like the Perak Mufti, on the issue of HIV/Aids.
But KTemoc Konsiders’ reader Rafeedah Bigburns went straight for the jugular, stating clerics like Harussani Zakaria couldn’t help but do what they do, probably because of their low IQ. They became clerics to escape a life of low level menial jobs, and “… lo and behold, once in the fold and attired in religious garb they instantly command the respect and reverence of the general public.”
Well, the controversial cleric is at it again, coming out to declare he is against the Kongsi Raya because such celebrations may threaten the faith of Muslims. He wants the government to review such gatherings.
The PM dismissed his call, saying Kongsi Raya’s are not religious celebrations so there shouldn’t be any question about the Islamic faith being threatened. He said:
"All these events are social in nature. At most, they will have dances and other cultural programmes. Never did we have programmes which can be considered as religious during such gatherings. These are not programmes which can weaken our faith and our belief."
What about PAS then?
It seems the Islamic party has come out with conflicting views. Deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa has stated that PAS is not in favour of Kongsi Raya. He felt that it could be considered syirik (blasphemous) from an Islamic point of view to pair a Muslim celebration with a non-Muslim one, and was concerned that such paired celebrations could affect a Muslim’s aqidah (faith)”.
He said: “Islam allows us to be friends with non-Muslims and respect people of other faiths. But we cannot compromise But we cannot compromise on our own faith.”
“But this does not mean that Muslims should not visit their non-Muslim friends during the festival or vice-versa. This is part of our culture and I see no problem. But let us do it separately from our own.”
However PAS national unity committee chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the mufti (of Perak) needs to address the demands and interests of the country’s pluralistic society.
He opined: “There needs to be some explanation based on the other bigger interests of unity, especially in Malaysia where we are multiracial and have different ethnic groups and faiths. That needs to be considered so as not to jeopardise the true meaning of Islam, which calls for racial unity and respect for one another.”
“I, for example, am a national unity committee leader. I can’t be expected to have non-Muslims come over only to my open house during Hari Raya. I also have to go to their open houses.”
“If a fatwa (religious edict) to that effect is put in place, will I be arrested (for visiting open houses)?”
Ros Ismail, a reporter for the Star Online asked: “Why should attending a Kongsi Raya celebration make me a murtad (apostate)?”
“A joint Chinese New Year-Hari Raya gathering, where I would probably eat an orange, a handful of peanuts and a biscuit or two, should not turn me into a traitor of the religion. But as it turns out, the ulamas are wringing their hands in worry that Muslims attending such events may go astray.”
“It seems to suggest that our faith in God is so fundamentally fragile that, on the slightest pretext, we can be persuaded to jump ship.”
“This is hurtful for those of us who remain solidly Muslim even as we listen to Christmas carols or indulge in mutton curry over Deepavali with friends of other faiths.”
I won’t quote the opinions of the non-Muslims on the Kongsi Raya yet, but what do you think?