Johor Sultan orders religious office to cut ties with Jakim

He chides federal religious agency for hiring 'brainless' preacher believed to have criticised him

BATU PAHAT • The Sultan of Johor yesterday ordered the state Islamic religious department (JAIJ) to stop dealing with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, or Jakim.

This comes after an employee of federal agency Jakim, preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, gave a religious lecture in which he criticised a sultan - understood to be the Johor ruler - for barring a Muslim-only launderette in the state.

In a video uploaded on YouTube, Zamihan said: "There was a sultan who had said Muslim-friendly launderettes are not allowed in his state. It is not right for the sultan to say such things."

The preacher had also said that Chinese people were unhygienic and should patronise "normal" launderettes.

He was arrested last Wednesday for sedition and is out on bail.

According to the New Straits Times, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar also pointed out that Jakim should stop giving its views on religion to Johor.

"Several mufti and Islamic scholars have given their views on the issue of the (Muslim-friendly) launderette in Muar," the sultan said in a speech at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia yesterday.

"Unfortunately, Zamihan has criticised me and undermined the views of the mufti and scholars. The way he said it was also arrogant, as if he is the only person who is right.

"If it is true that he is a Jakim officer, then I don't know where the department found him because, for me, he is like an empty can and brainless.

"After this, I have directed JAIJ not to waste time dealing with Jakim, and Jakim in turn does not need to give any views to Johor."

In response, Jakim's director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha said he and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom will seek an audience with Sultan Ibrahim "as soon as possible" to resolve the issue .

In an interview with The Star last month, Sultan Ibrahim said he could not accept "this nonsense" after news broke of a Muslim-only launderette in Muar, Johor.

"This is Johor, which belongs to Bangsa Johor, and it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state. 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," he said.

According to the Malay Mail Online, Sultan Ibrahim also said in his speech yesterday that such practices would not only result in suspicion among non-Muslims, but would also wrongly portray Muslim life as extreme, intolerant and unjust.

Citing currency notes as an example, he said money was handled by everyone, including those who would be considered ritually unclean in Islam.

"The same money may have been touched by pork butchers, bartenders and may even have come into contact with heavy filth.

"Must the government then come up with Muslim-friendly notes? Think for yourselves, ladies and gentlemen," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Johor Sultan orders religious office to cut ties with Jakim'. Print Edition | Subscribe