Nothing stopping Muslims from visiting other places of worship, says Selangor ruler

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said there is nothing wrong with attending a wedding or a wake at a church, for example, but Muslims must just observe. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

SHAH ALAM - The relevant state and federal laws to protect the faith of Muslims in Selangor are clear and must be respected, said the Sultan of Selangor.

He also said there is nothing to stop Muslims from visiting other places of worship.

However, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said Muslims must not take part in rituals or practices at temples or churches.

“There is nothing wrong with attending a wedding or a wake at a church, for example, but Muslims must just observe.

“Likewise, Christians, I believe, would not join in the prayers or rituals at a Taoist temple,” he said in an interview.

Sultan Sharafuddin cited his late grandfather, Sultan Alam Shah, who attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, which was held at Westminster Abbey church in London.

“He had just returned from Mecca, and then consulted the state Mufti if it was acceptable for him to attend the coronation.

“The Mufti said there was nothing wrong with it if he did not take part in any ritual such as prayers,” he said.

Likewise, Sultan Sharafuddin said, the Mufti told his father that he could wear the medals and insignia on his uniform, including those that resemble the cross, because they were not religious items.

The Sultan, however, noted that the recent statement by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) is correct and clear, saying Mais has rightly reminded Muslims that it is unlawful for them to visit non-Muslim houses of worship such as temples, churches and gurdwaras to learn about other faiths.

The Sultan said it is best to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, since there are laws preventing the proselytisation of other religions to Muslims.

Mais chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has acknowledged the racial, cultural and religious diversity in the country, saying the body embraces the view that “the community’s mutual understanding, tolerance and unity are very important to ensure Malaysia’s harmony and peace”.

He said Mais is taking precautions to protect the faith of Muslims in Malaysia, and highlighted that any programme in Selangor to persuade Muslims to be inclined towards or interested in another religion is an offence under a 1988 Selangor state law.

The statement by Mais was in response to recent controversy following a “Jom Ziarah” programme organised by Impact Malaysia – an agency under the Youth and Sports Ministry – to promote mutual respect and understanding about the country’s diverse religions, where youth are taken to visit different houses of worship.

Sultan Sharafuddin urged politicians, regardless of their faith, not to use religion to make themselves popular.

“Only I, as the head of Islam in Selangor, and Mais are the authorities of the religion in the state.

“Politicians can say whatever they want, but they do not have the final say or authority,” he said.

He also urged politicians to “read up and do their homework” before commenting on the statement by Mais. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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