KUALA LUMPUR - Two Muslim groups have slammed Sabah state's decision to ban them over "deviant teachings", insising they were not a terror threat.
Islamic sect Jemaat Ahmadiyyah and pro-caliphate hardline group Hizbut Tahrir (HTM) said they were peaceful groups that have contributed to the charity and welfare of the local communities, especially in Sabah.
"The question is, has the state government held any open dialogue with the Jemaat Ahmadiyah before they banned us? Never," Ainul Yakin M Zin, a spokesman for the Malaysian Ahmadiyyah community, told Malay Mail Online.
"The next question they have to answer: has Jemaat Ahmadiyah threatened the security of the country and Sabah?"
"Banning us is not the solution, but would only confuse our peace-loving society," he was quoted as saying.
HTM said neither the state government nor the state fatwa committee had inquired about its ideology and teachings.
"So on what basis was Hizbut Tahrir declared astray and has deviated from the Sunni faith?" spokesman Abdul Hakim Othman told Malay Mail Online.
He said HTM has long established itself in Sabah and received warm welcome from the locals, whom he claimed have praised the group for their Islamic missionary activities.
"HTM has succeeded in attracting many youths who before this were unaware of Islam," he told the news portal.
Their objections came after the Sabah state fatwa council banned 16 teachings or beliefs which it said have deviated from the principles of Sunni Islam.
Both Jemaat Ahmadiyyah and Hizbut Tahrir also pointed out that Prophet Muhammad himself had cautioned Muslims against declaring others who shared the same faith infidels and to deal with conflicts through dialogue and debate, according to the report.
The Ahmadis adhere to the same beliefs as the Sunni branch of Islam, but they also believe that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Imam Mahdi, Islam's prophesied redeemer, said the report.
HTM aims to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia and a worldwide caliphate as part of its global network. It has also been declared "deviant" by the Selangor fatwa committee.