Fatwa on religious rituals offers good guidance, says Council of Churches Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: The fatwa issued by the Johor Islamic religious affairs committee provides good guidance for both Muslims and non-Muslims, says the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM).

CCM general secretary Rev Jonathan Jesudas said non-Muslims should appreciate the limits that Muslims are subject to under syariah laws, when inviting Muslim colleagues or friends to their festivities or celebrations.

"The clarity provided by the Johor Islamic religious affairs committee is welcome and will definitely promote greater harmony and interaction among the various religious communities in Malaysia," he said in a statement on Sunday (Feb 5).

Rev Jonathan also noted how Malaysians from various religious communities would join one another in celebrating religious festivals.

"Open houses are definitely a signature practice of Malaysians where all will visit one another, enjoy delicacies and hospitality of their neighbours and friends who are celebrating.

"This is so much a part of life that in our joy, we hardly stop and recognise that this is religious harmony and tolerance.

"It is also the cement which holds the Malaysian community together, distinguishing us (Malaysians) from the other nations in the world," he said.

Previously, Johor Islamic religious affairs committee Mohd Fared Mohd Khalid said that Muslims in the state were allowed to attend celebrations held by people of other faiths but should not take part in their religious rituals.

This was based on Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar's consent to a fatwa on Thursday (Feb 2), Mohd Fared said.

Sultan Ibrahim later reaffirmed the “Bangsa Johor” concept, saying the racial and religious diversity of Johor will always be recognised and respected.

His Majesty said the fatwa issued by the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAINJ) on Thursday was in no way in conflict with 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 on Friday (Feb 3).

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