PUTRAJAYA: State muftis have proposed that the word “religion” in the recently-established Committee to Promote Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony be dropped to avoid confusion.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the muftis felt the word could confuse the public especially when the National Fatwa Council had, in 2005, issued a decree that an inter-faith council should not be established.
Jamil said the matter was raised during his meeting with the state mufti’s on Wednesday, stressing they however did not object to the setting up of the committee, aimed at providing a platform for dialogues and discussions to promote religious understanding and harmony among the diversed Malaysians.
“I have told the muftis their proposal for the committee to be given a name change will be forwarded to the Cabinet. I will bring up the matter with (Minister in charge of national unity and integrity) Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon as soon as possible,” he told reporters after the chairing the meeting.
On what should be the new name for the commitee be, Jamil Khir said among suggestion was to include inter-racial instead of inter-religious, but that would be determined later.
The Cabinet had recently agreed to the formation of the committee, led by former Kota Baru MP and lawyer Datuk Ilani Ishak, aimed to promote better religious understanding and harmony between Muslims and those of other faiths.
The committee members comprise representatives from the Islamic Development Department, Institute of Islamic Understanding and the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
Calls for the formation of an inter-faith panel aimed at promoting religious understanding became greater following the High Court ruling on the use of the word ‘’Allah’’ by the Catholic Herald but the idea was rejected by various Muslim groups, which felt the council would eventually place Islam on equal footing with other faiths.
Jamil Khir stressed the committee could discuss on religion to promote better understanding among the multi-religious Malaysians.
“The scope of discussion is wide. They can discuss on the stand each faith has on the issue of drug abuse and abandoned babies, for instance,” he said.
Jakim director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said the muftis were not against the establishment of a forum to promote religious understanding.
“However, they are concerned if parties try to meddle or interfere religious issues involving Muslims. If there are arising matters, it can be discussed in forums and there have been instances which had been resolved by (inter-racial) unity panels before,” he said.