KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will turn to religion to combat the HIV/AIDS scourge among Muslims.
It will train imams and other religious leaders to relay the message of the dreaded disease to Muslims, Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin said.
We believe this is an important issue affecting the ummah in Malaysia and we are committed to ensuring that Muslim leaders in this country become well-educated about the disease and get involved in educating the people about it, he said when opening the second International Muslim Leaders Consultation on HIV/AIDS at Istana Hotel here yesterday.
More than 200 people from 30 countries are attending the five-day conference, co-organised by Jakim (the Malaysian Islamic Development Department) and the Malaysian Aids Council (MAC).
Abdul Hamid said local imams and other religious figures in the community nationwide would begin their training by the end of the year, adding that Jakim, together with the Health Ministry, MAC and others are in the process of developing a module for the training.
Abdul Hamid said the involvement of the Muslim community in combating AIDS/HIV was still limited and unsatisfactory even though most of the infected people were Muslims.
He later told a press conference that there was a strong fear of the disease and of those infected by it among the community.
There need to be a comprehensive information and training for religious leaders in order to correct the perception on the disease and those suffering from it.
If we know more about it, we will be more serious in tackling the issue, he said, adding that there had been cases when imams had refused to conduct burial rites and rejected requests for help from infected patients.
They preferred to condemn rather than care, he said.
MAC president Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir said the conference would enable world Muslim leaders to share their experiences in dealing with the disease in their respective communities and to come up with new thoughts and ideas on how to deal with the issue.