Mais chairman: Unlawful for Muslims to visit non-Muslim houses of worship to learn about their faith

Mais chairman: Unlawful for Muslims to visit non-Muslim houses of worship to learn about their faith

Mais chairman: Unlawful for Muslims to visit non-Muslim houses of worship to learn about their faith

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Activities where Muslims visit non-Muslim houses of worship such as temples, churches, and gurdwaras to learn about these religions apart from their own should be rejected and restricted, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) said today.

Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof claimed that such activities tend to be negative towards Islam and violate the laws preventing the proselytisation of other religions to Muslims.

He was weighing in on the recent controversy following a “Jom Ziarah” programme organised by Impact Malaysia — an agency under the Youth and Sports Ministry — to promote mutual respect and mutual understanding about the country’s diverse religions where youths are taken to visit different houses of worship.

While acknowledging the racial, cultural and religious diversity in the country, Abdul Aziz said it was of the view that “the community’s mutual understanding, tolerance and unity is very important to ensure Malaysia’s harmony and peace”.

He added that Islam does not prohibit friendship and tolerance towards non-Muslims.

But he said that such events like the “Jom Ziarah” programme should have limits placed to ensure no Muslims are being influenced to be interested in other religions.


“Although the objective of this programme is said to give exposure towards a religion (sic) practised in this country and to form close unity among the believers of different religions, but programmes to learn about other religions other than Islam in any churches or any houses of worship needs certain controls and restrictions to ensure there is no element of persuading Muslims to be influenced and interested in other religions besides Islam and also no involvement of Muslims in other religions’ rituals,” he said in a statement.

So far, the programme has seen visits to a mosque and a gurdwara; it had planned a visit to a church in Klang, Selangor tomorrow.

Abdul Aziz cited Islamic jurisprudence which states that rejecting harm should be prioritised over obtaining benefits.

He said this meant that “any activities which encourages the public who are Muslims to enter non-Muslims’ houses of worship openly to learn about non-Muslims’ religions leans more towards negative effects from the good of preserving the Muslims’ faith, especially Muslim youths, and it has to be rejected and restricted”.

Referring to Impact Malaysia’s planned church visit tomorrow, Abdul Aziz said Mais views this programme as having elements to attract the attention of youths “especially Muslim youths” to learn and gain knowledge about religions other than Islam.


“Such programmes if allowed to be organised, can influence the thoughts of Muslim youths subtly and without being conscious to be inclined or attracted with religions other than Islam which they are professing,” he said.

He added that Mais is taking precaution to protect the faith of Muslims in Malaysia, and highlighted that any programmes in Selangor to persuade Muslims to be inclined or interested towards other religion is an offence under a 1988 Selangor state law.

He did not name the law directly but was likely referring to the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988.

A check by Malay Mail of the Selangor enactment shows that anyone who persuades, influences or incites a Muslim to be inclined towards any non-Islamic religion or be a follower of a non-Islamic religion or to forsake or disfavour Islam can be punished with a maximum one-year jail term and a maximum fine of RM10,000, or both.

Abdul Aziz urged the public to respect Islam’s position as the religion of the federation under the Federal Constitution’s Article 3.


He noted that Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution guarantees Malaysians the right to profess and practise their own religion, but asserted that it is subject to laws that control the spread of other religious beliefs and doctrines among Muslims, as stated under Article 11(4).

The Mais chairman also claimed that the “Jom Ziarah” programme was initially open to all, and noted that Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh had told Parliament recently that it would be limited to non-Muslims.

He said the promotional materials for the programme spread online had yet to be amended to show it was only for non-Muslims.

Abdul Aziz also said that anyone who wishes to hold activities and programmes on the basis of promoting unity and harmony, to be more careful and to take care of the sensitivities of Muslims and the community in Malaysia.

On March 14, Yeoh had in the Dewan Rakyat stressed that the “Jom Ziarah” event for the church will not involve any Muslim youths.

She pointed out that the previous “Jom Ziarah” events to visit a mosque on March 4 were attended by eight Chinese and Indian youths, and only three Chinese youths had visited a gurdwara on March 11 under the programme.


Yeoh said there were no Muslims among the participants of the “Jom Ziarah” events, also stressing that the programme is not meant to equalise the positions of any religions, and is merely intended to enable the learning about the differences between the various religions to enable multiracial and multireligious Malaysians to live more harmoniously together.

Yeoh also explained that the “Jom Ziarah” organiser is a company called Impact Integrated which comes under the purview of the Youth and Sports Ministry, with allocations from the government but having their own funds as a company and with their annual plans approved by the company’s board.

Impact Malaysia had on March 13 explained on Facebook that the “Jom Ziarah“ event under its “Projek Artikel 11” initiative to promote a more inclusive Malaysia, and said the initiative also includes volunteer activity to help vulnerable groups as organised by faith-based charity groups.

While Mais highlighted the alleged lack of changes to the promotional material for the “Jom Ziarah” event for the church to show it was not for Muslims, the Impact Malaysia’s Facebook page currently does not show posters for the upcoming “Jom Ziarah” events to the church and to a Hindu temple.

The Impact Malaysia’s Facebook page instead has previous posts on past visits to a mosque and gurdwara under the “Jom Ziarah” programme.

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Mais chairman: Unlawful for Muslims to visit non-Muslim houses of worship to learn about their faith




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