Johor ruler warns Muslims against narrow thinking

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and his son, Crown Prince Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, meeting Johoreans after Hari Raya prayers in June in Johor Baru. The ruler has sounded out against the narrow interpretation of Islam.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and his son, Crown Prince Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, meeting Johoreans after Hari Raya prayers in June in Johor Baru. The ruler has sounded out against the narrow interpretation of Islam.PHOTO: FOTOBERNAMA

Sultan says they might as well live in caves if they avoid sharing items with non-Muslims

BATU PAHAT (Johor) • Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said Muslims might as well live in caves by themselves if they start to view the sharing of items, such as banknotes and hotel pillows, with non-Muslims as prohibited by the religion.

"If everything is to be prohibited, we might as well live alone in the cave and not live in society," the Johor ruler said on Saturday, as he continued to speak out against a preacher who defended the idea of a Muslim-only laundrette.

Speaking at the convocation ceremony for graduates of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia in Batu Pahat in northern Johor, he said putting overzealous constraints would make living in a community impossible.

"When banknotes may have been held by a pork seller or alcohol seller, does the government have to make Muslims-only money?" he said in a video of the speech posted on his official Facebook account.

"Think for yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. What about seats in public places that may have been licked by dogs, or pillows and blankets at hotels that may have came into contact with filth? This never ends."

The issue started when a Muslim man in Muar put up a sign outside his laundrette saying that his machines are for use by Muslims only.

Sultan Iskandar rebuked the man last month, saying: "This is not a Taleban state and as the head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature."

UNDERMINING COMMUNITY LIVING

When banknotes may have been held by a pork seller or alcohol seller, does the government have to make Muslims-only money? Think for yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. What about seats in public places that may have been licked by dogs, or pillows and blankets at hotels that may have came into contact with filth? This never ends.

SULTAN IBRAHIM SULTAN ISKANDAR

The shop owner has apologised and removed the offending signboard.

Another laundrette in northern Perlis state was also found to run a "Muslims only" business. It has now opened its business to all customers after receiving a visit from the Perlis mufti (the state's Islamic chief) and Perlis crown prince.

But government preacher Zamihan Mat Zin has criticised Sultan Iskandar over the issue.

Mr Zamihan, who works for powerful federal Islamic agency Jakim, said Muslims had the right to operate such laundrettes and accused non-Muslims of being unhygienic.

Malaysia's nine Malay rulers last Tuesday referred to the incidents in a rare intervention on public affairs, saying they are concerned that the unity and harmony in Malaysia are being eroded as the nation faces an onslaught of racially controversial issues.

Mr Zamihan was detained last week for investigations into possible sedition. He has apologised to the sultan.

The Johor ruler was not the only one that has been grabbing headlines in the past week. His son, Crown Prince Ismail Ibrahim, has had to defend himself for remarking that Malaysia is "not my country" after the national football team's 0-2 loss to Hong Kong in an Asian Cup qualifier.

Tunku Ismail, who is president of the Football Association of Malaysia, has since said that the comments were a joke.

"After a dialogue of more than an hour regarding football and current issues, only the joke in my last 20 seconds of my dialogue is trending now," he said in a statement posted online.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2017, with the headline 'Johor ruler warns Muslims against narrow thinking'. Print Edition | Subscribe