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Perlis Mufti suggests interfaith relations subject

KANGAR, 24 Oct 2008: Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has proposed that the Education Ministry introduce the subject of interfaith relations to forge harmony among different religious communities.

He said the subject, specifically for Muslim students, would expose them to Islamic principles, culture and jurisprudence for better interaction with non-Muslims.

“With a wide understanding of Islam, and freed from narrow and obsolete thinking, interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims could be an avenue for promoting the beauty of Islam,” the 37-year-old mufti told reporters at his office today.

“In a multiracial country like Malaysia, increasing misconception and suspicion among the races calls for the subject to be introduced fast,” he said, adding that the proposal had been made before in 2007 but was not taken up.

Mohd Asri also commended the suggestion by Kulim/Bandar Baru Member of Parliament (MP) Zulkifli Nordin that the government build a Chinese mosque in Kuala Lumpur with its activities and sermons conducted in Mandarin.

He said he had also raised the matter in 2007 but it was met with objection from narrow-minded Muslims.

“This group of Muslims think that Islam in Malaysia means Malay identity, whereas the Chinese community in this country has for a long while requested for a Chinese mosque.”

He also said that after more than 50 years of independence, there were still many non-Muslims who had no understanding of Islam and associated all the negative attitudes of the Malays to Islam.

He hoped the Chinese mosque would become a reality so that the large Chinese community in the country could understand Islam better.

He also praised Zulkifli for being courageous enough to criticise his own party in the name of Islam.

“I don’t agree with everything. But he should be praised for not following blindly, because Islam forbids Muslims from following individuals or a party without thinking, or supporting anything that goes against the principles they believe in,” he said.

Mohd Asri said a renewal process for politicians was needed so that they would not follow their party’s actions blindly. — Bernama

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