(TMI) - Putrajaya's campaign against Syiah Islam has only exposed its deep ignorance about tolerable age-old differences within Islam, says PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (pic).
In his first public comments about the anti-Syiah campaign, Abdul Hadi warned against politicising the issue or branding Syiah as deviant Muslims.
“Discussions on the Syiah issue should be the realm of the academia, and the government must act based on knowledge and not politicise the issue," he was quoted as saying in the PAS organ Harakah Daily today.
There have been allegations that several top PAS leaders are secretly Syiah but the Islamist party has denied it. Malaysian Muslims follow the Sunni branch of Islam.
Harakah said Hadi's comments came after a campaign led by Islamic bureacrats and several Wahhabi-influenced Muslim spokesmen from Umno, using Malay-language dailies to vilify Syiah Muslims.
The seasoned Islamic scholar, with close ties to both Sunni and Syiah authorities worldwide, reminded that any approach to tackle differences among the various schools of thought in Islam must be done in an environment of scholarship and knowledge, the report said.
Agreeing that Syiah Islam may not be suitable to be followed by local Muslims who have long subscribed to the Shafi'i school of thought, Hadi warned against quickly branding Syiah as being outside the fold of Islam.
He reminded Muslims against falling into the trap of sectarian war set by their enemies, adding that big powers were currently involved in setting the stage for action against Iran, a predominantly Syiah Muslim nation, whose alleged nuclear weapons project have worried both Israel and US-backed Arab monarchies.
Hadi pointed out that just as within the Sunni school, there are various denominations within Syiah Islam, adding that Muslim scholars have long recognised the Imamites - the principal sect of Syiah Islam - which are followed in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.
"They are allowed to perform the Haj to Mecca because scholars recognise them as Muslims. They pray and perform pilgrimage, though many of their rituals may be at odds with the Sunni jurisprudence," he was quoted as saying in the report.