IPOH, Malaysia - Religion is like a time bomb which can explode, triggering chaos and catastrophe if it is sensationalised for political purposes, said Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah.
He said the role of religion "is very sacred but at times it is desecrated by those who lacked wisdom," who tried to insert values, prejudices and personal agenda to champion and sensationalise certain issues, Bernama news agency reported.
"On the other hand, when religion is used for purposes other than sowing the divine spirit, especially when it is selected to be sensationalised politically, religion is a highly explosive bomb, with the potential to trigger chaos and catastrophe," he added.
Religion, when fully understood, is an instrument of unity and justice, other than being capable of turning out a good society which has soul and internal strength and subjugate to god, Bernama quoted the sultan as saying.
"In the realities of history, the legitimacy of facts and rational thinkings are sunk and swept away by the currents of emotions," he said.
The religious status of a person, whether he is destined for heaven or hell, is decided by god, so it is unwarranted and contradictory with the call of God if man himself chose to pass judgments on the status of the faith and piety of another man.
"The duties and responsibilities of men, especially those involved in directly managing and handling the affairs of religion is to urge others toward doing good and forbidding what is wrong.
"The nature of benevolence is important in the endeavour to help as many people as possible to see the light of truth," he said.
Bernama also quoted Sultan Nazrin as saying that Islamic scholars and leaders who were entrusted with managing the affairs of Islam must carry out their responsibilities with wisdom and justice, respecting the feelings of others and also understanding the realities of a time and place.
"Justice must be implemented, human dignity must be respected, while the king is responsible for fulfilling the role of an arbitrator in a fair and equitable manner and willing to give space to listen and scrutinise," he added.
According to Sultan Nazrin, impartiality required rulers to offer the "shade of their umbrellas" equally to all, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
"The rulers had accepted the diversity of religious beliefs, and there was no record showing they had forced the followers of other religions to embrace Islam," he added.