Thursday, June 15, 2006

National Fatwa Committee: Kongsi Raya leads to Blasphemy!

Ulamas attending the Ulama Conference 2006 have decided that "kongsi raya" celebrations and "open houses" need to be reviewed because these practices can be blasphemous and erode the faith of Muslims. This is according to working committee chairman, Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria.

For the uninitiated to Malaysian celebrations of traditional festivals such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali - "open houses" are large parties open to the public (sometimes guests number in the thousands) commonly organised by govt agencies, political parties and individuals of high status. Kongsi Raya are simply the celebrations like open houses which are to celebrate more than one festival. For example, there is Kong Xi Raya (Chinese New Year + Hari Raya) and DeepaRaya (Deepavali/Divali + Hari Raya) when the dates of these festivals are in close proximity to each other. There's yet to be a "DeepaKong" though.

Now, for my take. Just how does getting together with your friends and neighbours of other races and religions, for a good hearty FREE meal, cause the erosion of faith amongst Muslims?

Is it an issue of getting together with non-Muslim people?

Is it an issue of sharing a meal with non-Muslim people?

Or is it an issue of eating a FREE meal? I don't think so as the Ulamas don't seem to have a problem with NEP (New Economic Policy).

On one hand, the PM is promising the Malaysian people Islam Hadhari and Muhibbah, and on the other hand, we have these Ulamas (whose salaries are paid with our tax money, Muslim and non-Muslim taxpayers, btw) who proclaim innane and ridiculous statements like this. And these are the people who are supposed to guide the religious and moral well-being of our Muslim countrymen!

PM Abdullah Badawi has another opportunity to clamp down on these deviationists and obstacles to Muhibbah. But judging from Pak Lah's previous inaction on Article 121 of the Constitution (Syariah Courts have jurisdiction over all Muslim matters even if it impinges on the rights of non-Muslims) and the surrender of the entire Malaysian police force to a violent mob (supposedly championing Muslim rights) who were protesting an inter faith forum in Penang etc., I have little expectation that he will even utter a word against the National Fatwa Committee.

For the PM with the strongest religious credentials, Pak Lah seems to me to be the most timid PM yet in living history when it comes to confronting religious issues faced by multi-faith Malaysia.

But then again, he's got bigger worries on his mind, like Tun Mahathir.

The original reference article can be found in The Star.

There are some sane voices in the govt who have spoken out against the National Fatwa Committee. But these people are few & far between, and seem to be extremely cautious with their comments. It feels true to me that even the strongest politicians in Malaysia tremble at the prospect of being perceived as "not Islamic enough" by the Malay heartland and as a consequence treat all these issues with kidgloves.

Perhaps getting tough with religious zealots is another thing that the current administration can learn from Tun Mahathir.

Rais' comments about all this can be found in The Sun.


seantang said...

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS is not in favour of the Kongsi Raya celebrations as it believes that an Islamic celebration should not be put on par with a non-Islamic festival.

Its deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa said it could be considered syirik (blasphemous) from an Islamic point of view to pair a Muslim celebration with a non-Muslim one.

Nasharuddin: "The concern is that it could affect one's aqidah (faith)" He said “the concern is that it could affect one’s aqidah (faith)”.

“Islam allows us to be friends with non-Muslims and respect people of other faiths. But we cannot compromise on our own faith,” he said.

“But this does not mean that Muslims should not visit their non-Muslim friends during the festival or vice-versa. This is part of our culture and I see no problem.

“But let us do it separately from our own.”

>>> seantang says:

What does "an Islamic celebration should not be put on par with a non-Islamic festival" mean?

Are non-islamic celebrations inferior in some way?

Well, PAS may be courting non-muslims by "allowing" them to stand for election under the PAS banner, but this proves that they are still fundamentalists and extremists. Non-muslims should have nothing to do with them if they ever hope to preserve their religious freedom.

seantang said...

PM: Kongsi Raya celebrations are not religious

News update by Sa’odah Elias

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will continue organising national-level Kongsi Raya celebrations and open houses for the festivals of various groups because they were not considered religious events, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He said this practice had been observed for several years and had not caused any problem among the people.

"All these events are social in nature. At most, they will have dances and other cultural programmes. Never did we have programmes which can be considered as religious during such gatherings.

"These are not programmes which can weaken our faith and our belief," he told reporters after chairing the Barisan Nasional annual supreme council meeting here on Friday.

Abdullah, who is also Barisan chairman, advised all those concerned not to turn the issue into a polemic.

"This is because it can lead to all kinds of interpretations which can only worsen the situation," he added.

On Tuesday, the Ulama Conference 2006 committee chairman Datuk Seri Harunssani Zakaria said the ulama wanted the Government to review kongsi raya celebrations and open houses to ensure that they do not contradict Islam.

The ulama’s ruling followed the National Fatwa Committee’s decision that celebrating the festivals of other religions could erode the faith of Muslims and lead to blasphemy.

>>> seantang says:


Anonymous said...

Okay, so going by the ulama's logic (or lack of it), Muslims shouldn't be having days off during the religious celebrations of other faiths, like Deepavali, Thaipusam, Christmas, or even Chinese New Year (since they relate it to being able to erode their Muslimness although it's a traditional and not a religious celebration), since they'll be benefiting from it terms of holidays, and shouldn't be accepting the triple pay when they work on such days, because then they would be cashing in on other faiths' celebrations!! :D