PUTRAJAYA: State muftis have proposed that the word “religion” in the recently set-up 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 “religion” could confuse the Muslim 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 muftis yesterday, stressing they, however did not object to the setting up of the committee aimed at providing a platform for dialogue and discussion to promote religious understanding and harmony among Malaysians .
“I have told the muftis that 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 Dr Koh Tsu Koon as soon as possible,” he told reporters after chairing the meeting yesterday.
On what should the new name for the commitee be, Jamil Khir said there is a suggestion 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.
Islamic Development Department (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 with religious issues involving Muslims,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism president Rev Dr Thomas Philips said they would wait for the Cabinet’s decision on the matter as the Cabinet had set up the committee and suggested the name.
“Nothing has been officially conveyed to us. We are responsible to the Prime Minister. If there are any changes, we will let the Prime Minister tell us and we will respond accordingly as it is the Cabinet’s decision to set up the committee,” he added.