The rise and fall of Sky Kingdom

A TEAPOT which was almost two-storeys high. One giant umbrella. There was a concrete boat, too.

These were symbols that a religious sect built on its commune in Hulu Besut, Terengganu.

The discovery of the group known as Sky Kingdom made shocking headlines in Malaysia in the 1980s.

A report in 2005 in The Star about the Besut District Council demolishing the Sky Kingdom commune.A report in 2005 in The Star about the Besut District Council demolishing the Sky Kingdom commune.

Ariffin Mohamad, popularly known as Ayah Pin, started Sky Kingdom, which was later declared as a deviant group by religious authorities.

He had proclaimed himself as God and was referred to as ayah (father) by his followers who believed that he was a messenger from heaven.

Ariffin was born in Bachok, Kelantan, in 1943. He moved to Hulu Besut in 1975.

In the 1980s, he founded Sky Kingdom.

His commune in Kampung Batu 13, Hulu Besut, was a “palace” featuring the giant teapot.

Apparently, the giant structures were built at a cost of more than RM1mil.

During an interview with The Star in July 2005, Ariffin said he was merely trying to unite the people of all faiths.

Asked if he would direct his followers to leave the commune following the government’s stance on the sect, he replied: “I will not ask them to go because I did not invite them here in the first place. They are free to come and go. They come here in search of peace and God.”

One follower said Ariffin could read people’s minds.

“He has eyes everywhere. He is omnipresent and omnipotent, ” she claimed.

Among his hundreds of followers included a police inspector and a drummer from a rock group.

The Terengganu Religious and Malay Customs Council Fatwa Committee had in 1996 issued a ruling that Ayah Pin’s teachings were deviant.

During a trial in 2007 of a group of his alleged followers, a Dungun religious enforcement officer told the Syariah Court that he had asked the followers on the meaning of the teapot and umbrella in the commune.

“They told me that the teapot collects water flowing from heaven and the umbrella offers them the protection of God, ” said the officer.

Ariffin died in 2016 at age 75.

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