Bon Odori festival can lead to polytheism, says Penang mufti

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 07 Jun 2022

A file picture of the Bon Odori festival taking place in Penang in 2019. -ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor has advised Muslims not to participate in the Bon Odori festival as it can lead to polytheism.

Wan Salim said Muslims were advised to always preserve the purity of their Islamic faith by avoiding such festivals.

"Since the festival is linked to remembering the souls or spirits of the ancestors, it is feared that it could lead to polytheism. Muslims must always preserve the purity of their Islamic faith.

"Remembering the souls of the ancestors by dancing, worshipping their spirits and others is not encouraged in Islam, in fact it is feared that they will fall into the sin of polytheism to Allah," he said in a statement here on Tuesday (June 7).

On Monday (June 6), Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad said that the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had found that the Bon Odori Festival programme has elements of other religions.

As such, Muslims were advised against participating in the event at the Shah Alam National Sports Complex on July 16.

Meanwhile, Penang Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, in a separate event said the state government did not plan to cancel the event scheduled for July 30.

He said that in the context of Penang, it did not contain elements of worshipping or certain religious rituals.

He said the festival had been held for the last 10 years in Penang and it was to strengthen long-established ties between Malaysia and Japan ties that could indirectly help spur the economy and tourism in the state.

According to Yeoh, the festival held in Penang before Covid-19 could attract over 10,000 visitors and the state government expected attendance during the shift to endemic phase to exceed 5,000 people.

Meanwhile, in PUTRAJAYA, the Malaysian Islamic Charity Council (MAIM), under Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia, said Muslims should not be celebrating the festivals of other religions that involve matters concerning faith.

Its chairman Muhammad Najhan Shahir Halim said the ban was based on the Quran and hadiths (narrative record of the sayings or customs of Prophet Muhammad and his companions) and five maqasid syariah (objectives or purposes behind the Islamic rulings) principles which among others protected religion, life and the mind.

Nevertheless, he urged Muslims to respect the cultures and beliefs of other religions by living peacefully with one another. – Bernama

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