GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An Islamic religious leader in Malaysia has found himself in controversy for asking Muslims not to patronise hair salons run by non-Muslims, denying that he had used the word haram (prohibited) despite being recorded saying so in a video clip.
Ustaz Shahul Hamid Seeni Muhammad said that in the footage released a few years ago, he was answering a question about hairdressing for a Muslim man in a kafir (infidel) woman's salon.
"If you watch the video carefully, I only said that while there is no dalil (Quranic and Hadith verses) that prohibits a man to hold the hair of another man, it is better to find a shop operated by Muslims to help them in the economy."
He said he had lodged a police report against an online portal for claiming that he used the word haram.
He said he was also worried that some products used in non-Muslim shops might not be suitable for Muslims.
In his videos, Shahul had told Muslims not to patronise non-Muslim hairdressers, discouraged parents from sending their children to "non-Muslim" schools, prohibited them from wishing "happy birthday" or even saying "hello".
He was also heard saying that Muslim women should not go to a non-Muslim salon as a woman's hair, which is aurat, should not be exposed to non-Muslims, even if they are women.
Shahul claimed that some people were only taking advantage of the recent Muslims-only launderette issue to create an issue out of his statements made a few years ago.
However, State Islamic Religious Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said that Shahul's statements were absurd, nonsensical and uncalled for.
"It's in very bad taste, especially coming from a learned person like him," he said, calling on the people of Penang to disregard the remarks and work together to forge greater unity for peace, harmony and success.
"The state government will not tolerate this kind of nonsense and will act accordingly to enhance and inculcate the wisdom and true teaching of Islam that promotes love, respect and harmony," he said.
Penang Mufti Datuk Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor reminded ustaz and Islamic preachers in the state to be careful in choosing the terms they used.
"Words like orang kafir or others which may hurt the feelings of people of other races and religions should be avoided," he said.
"This is to avoid people from having a bad impression of Islam or makes it hard for them to accept Islamic teaching," he added.