Johor Ruler graces Thaipusam

JOHOR BARU: Devotees warmly greeted Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar when he arrived for the banquet held in conjunction with the Thaipusam celebration at the Arulmigu Sri Balasubramaniar Temple.

The Ruler spent around 40 minutes at the banquet tent, set up outside the 50-year-old temple, where he also handed out aid to less fortunate students.

The temple also contributed RM5,000 to the Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation, witnessed by His Majesty.

This was the first time in three years following the Covid-19 pandemic that Sultan Ibrahim attended a Thaipusam celebration.

In 2019, he attended the event at the Arulmigu Thendayuthapani Temple in Wadi Hana here.

Meanwhile, state health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said irresponsible parties should not spin Johor Islamic Religious Council’s latest fatwa about Muslims attending the celebrations of other faiths.

He said Sultan Ibrahim’s presence for Thaipusam at the temple yesterday was a “fine example” which showed there was no conflict of interfaith values in the state.

“The fatwa issued by the council was a guideline for Muslims on what can and cannot be done when attending the celebrations of other faiths, which I am sure Muslims already know and had been practising,” he said.

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

Ling said the fatwa, which was issued on Feb 2, might have been confusing initially but the Johor palace had since sent out press statements to put the matter to rest.

“There should be no more confusion as His Majesty, as the state’s head of religion, has demonstrated that it is fine to accept invitations to celebrations of other faiths as long as (Muslims) do not partake in the religious rituals,” he told reporters.

Last Friday, Sultan Ibrahim reaffirmed the “Bangsa Johor” concept, saying the racial and religious diversity of Johor would always be respected.

He said the fatwa 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,” he said in a Facebook post.

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