PETALING JAYA: Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (pic) has apologised to the local Hindu community over a controversial “cow worship” poem posted on his Facebook page.
"To non-Muslims who are not involved in this issue, particularly to Hindus who may have misunderstood the meaning of my poem, I sincerely apologise. I never meant to refer to Hindus who are not involved in this issue," he said on Monday.
Dr Mohd Asri said previously that his poem on "cow worshippers" actually referred to recent events in India and not was intended as an insult to local Hindus.
Dr Mohd Asri, popularly known as Dr Maza, reiterated his prior explanation that the poem was intended for the Indian government run by Narendra Modi.
In a Facebook posting on Saturday, Dr Mohd Asri said the poem referred to an incident in western India earlier this month where a Muslim was killed by "cow protection vigilantes" after being suspected of eating beef.
The poem, which has since been removed, was believed to be in response to the criticism of controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is wanted in India for allegedly inspiring terrorist activities through his preaching.
Dr Mohd Asri said there are a number of parties, including Muslims, who had told him that they disagree with Dr Zakir's approach, adding that he too had given differing views.
"I have explained to him myself the situation in Malaysia. He has different views at this point. That is his right. However, that should not be the reason he is accused of being a terrorist and sent back to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led India," he said.
Dr Mohd Asri added that he held polite discussions with non-Muslim friends, who said they felt that the poem could be misunderstood, particularly when the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is involved.
He also said that the word used in the poem is “mempertuhankan" (to deify) and not “menyembah" (worship), as was altered by certain parties.
"In Malay, among the meaning of 'mempertuhankan' is to excessively glorify. For example, when someone says “dia mempertuhankan nafsu" (he deifies lust), it means someone excessively prioritises lust over everything else. That is the situation in India to the point that there are those who would torture or kill fellow human beings because of cows," he said.
“To me, Hindraf is an extremist organisation that creates tension between Hindus and Muslims in the country through their actions, even from before. Society should stay away from their provocative actions,” he added.
Dr Mohd Asri advised non-Muslims who protest against Dr Zakir not to follow Hindraf, but instead to look for proof in his speeches that shows that he encourages terrorism.
“If there is clear proof, I am prepared to argue against that,” he said, adding that he will arrange a dialogue with non-Muslims soon.
Dr Mohd Asri said he is committed to upholding justice among people regardless of racial or religious borders as it is one of the highest principles in Islam.
His poem, which was written in Malay and posted on his Facebook page on Friday, drew negative reactions from the public.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed that Dr Zakir had been granted permanent resident status in Malaysia five years ago.
Dr Zakir's Islamic Research Foundation has been declared an unlawful organisation by the Indian government.
On Saturday, Hindu non-governmental organisations and activists lodged police reports against Dr Mohd Asri over the poem.