Embracing inter-faith values

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Ruler, who will attend the state-level Thaipusam celebration tomorrow, has reaffirmed the Bangsa Johor concept that embraces inter-faith values as he calls for the people to be sensitive to each other’s religious obligations.

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said the fatwa issued by the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAINJ) on Thursday is in no way in conflict with the inter-faith values of tolerance, unity and understanding as espoused under the Bangsa Johor concept.

“The fatwa only prohibits Muslims from taking part in other religious rituals.

“It is a guideline for them. They can still attend festive events of other faiths.

“Other religions must also respect Muslims’ sensitivities. It is a two-way street.

“We must be sensitive to each other’s religious obligations in order to get along,” His Majesty said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page yesterday.

Sultan Ibrahim noted that as all religions emphasise good values like compassion, respect, tolerance, moderation and kindness, Malaysians should focus on these common values rather than on racial or religious differences.

“I hope with this explanation, we can put a stop to any confusion over the new fatwa as it only clarifies what is permissible to Muslims and forbidden in Islam.

“If you’re still confused, please see the Johor mufti for further clarification,” His Majesty added.

Tomorrow, Sultan Ibrahim will be at Arulmigu Sri Balasubramaniar temple in Skudai here to attend the state-level Thaipusam celebration.

This will be his first visit to the temple to witness the Thaipusam celebration and the first time in three years that His Majesty will be attending the event following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last time the Johor Ruler did so was in 2019 at the Arulmigu Thendayuthapani temple in Wadi Hana here.

Sri Balasubramaniar temple chairman Datuk S. Balakrishnan said Sultan Ibrahim will be going to the temple at 11am, with other state leaders including Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi in attendance too.

“About 10,000 devotees will be present at the temple for the festivity, which will be held in a grand manner this year after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions,” he said yesterday.

On Thursday, State Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Mohd Fared Mohd Khalid said Muslims in Johor are allowed to attend celebrations held by people of other faiths, but they should not take part in their religious rituals.

Citing open houses, weddings and funerals as examples, he said Muslims are permitted to attend such events if they are invited.

This is based on the opinions of a number of Muslim scholars who have stated that the law of accepting invitations to non-Muslim celebrations, such as open houses, is both necessary and permissible.

“In this context, organisers of non-Muslim celebrations should be sensitive and ensure the sensitivity of Muslims is respected in line with Islam’s position as the federal religion and the official religion of Johor,” he had said at a press conference pertaining to the fatwa.

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