Cleric takes issue with Muslims attending vigil for K-pop star

KUALA LUMPUR • The most senior cleric in Malaysia's Perak state has questioned whether Muslims should pray for deceased non-Muslims to enter heaven, after Malaysians held a candlelight vigil for the late Korean pop star Kim Jong Hyun.

Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria told broadcaster Astro Awani that Muslims are forbidden from taking part in candlelight vigils. "Cannot. You're forbidden from doing that. If the artist or individual was Muslim, we gift him the al-Fatihah verse. If it's a non-Muslim, why would we pray heaven for him instead?" said the cleric, as reported in The Malay Mail.

"What's more, he committed suicide, why would we follow the culture of infidels? What for?" he was quoted as saying.

According to the Malay Mail, the national fatwa council - which issues religious rulings for the country - had declared in 2015 that candlelight vigils are "haram", or forbidden for Muslims, because they are similar to rituals practised by other religions, and may threaten a Muslim's faith.

On Thursday night, about 100 mourning fans of Kim from various ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur for a candlelight vigil, bearing glowsticks, torches, balloons and flowers. Most of them were students.

The lead singer of the band SHINee was found dead in a rented apartment on Monday evening. According to a note he left behind, he had been "consumed" by depression.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'Cleric takes issue with Muslims attending vigil for K-pop star'. Print Edition | Subscribe