Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“This is the process of how a fatwa is implemented in the state”

It is the prerogative of the state religious authorities and their Rulers to accept or reject the National Fatwa Council’s decision to bar Muslims from practising yoga.

Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abd Aziz said the council’s fatwa (edict) prohibiting Muslims from practising yoga would be discussed in the state fatwa committees, whose members were appointed by their respective rulers.

“After it is agreed upon by the committees, the matter will then be presented to the various state religious councils before it is brought before the Sultan for consent.

“This is the process of how a fatwa is implemented in the state,” he said.

“It is the state’s prerogative to decide whether to implement a fatwa,” he said after chairing a meeting with the country’s state Islamic religious council heads here on Tuesday.

The various stands of certain state authorities on the matter did not reflect a difference in opinion between the state bodies and the council, he added.

Since the council came out with the fatwa on Saturday, the Sultan of Selangor has said that the fatwa could not be implemented as the state Fatwa Committee had yet to deliberate on the matter.

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Perak Religious Department director Datuk Jamry Sury, who had earlier been quoted as saying that the state would abide by the fatwa, retracted his statement a day later.

Jamry clarified that the fatwa had not been discussed by the Perak Fatwa Committee and brought to the attention of the State Religious and Malays Customs Council before being presented to the Sultan of Perak for consent.

Perlis Mufti Dr Asri Zainal Abidin had also spoken out against the fatwa, saying yoga with the non-Muslim elements removed should be allowed, while other states were set to go ahead with the implementation.

Wan Mohamad explained that Jakim’s duty, as the secretariat of the National Fatwa Council, was to coordinate the process by conducting research on an issue before presenting it to the council.

On the statement by Dr Asri that yoga should not be banned entirely but an alternative should instead be offered, Wan Mohamad said:

“Did the Perlis Fatwa Committee meet before the mufti voiced his disagreement? The matter has to be discussed first before it is agreed or disagreed upon.”

Wan Mohamad pointed out that discussions generated by various quarters over the council’s decision showed that Malaysians were interested in understanding Islam better.

“There is good and bad. It is good that at least now we can take the opportunity to explain the beauty of Islam to non-Muslims.

“As we live in a multi-religious country, it is good for our religious authorities to share information and knowledge with one another,” he said.

However, he reminded the people that Islam was the official religion in the country, as enshrined in the Constitution, and hence should be respected by all. – The Star

The National Fatwa Council had, last Saturday, issued a fatwa to ban systematic yoga practice for Muslims as chanting of mantra and oneness with God are part of the physical regime, and are therefore against Islamic teachings.

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