Asri says non-Muslims can enter mosques

By G. Manimaran, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin maintained today that non-Muslims can enter a mosque or surau, while pointing out that political parties using religion to cause racial strife are the actual culprits smearing the name of Islam.

Amid a row over DAP Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching’s recent visit to a surau, Asri said today that non-Muslims could enter a mosque as long as they did not besmirch the sanctity of the house of worship.

“Non-Muslims can enter the mosque if it is done with the right purpose to know Islam, understand or study it,” said Asri in a statement today.

“That is the same with Muslims, with the condition that they do not spoil the sanctity of the mosque. This is because during Nabi Muhammad’s time, non-Muslims entered the mosque to meet him,” added Asri, who is seen as a progressive scholar.

He pointed out, however, that while he had been reported to be defending Teo the influential scholar said he did not know what actually happened at the surau.

PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has, however, come out to defend Teo amid a barrage of criticisms against her from Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders.

Nik Aziz said that her actions did not contravene Islamic law and was the best way to get to know Muslims better.

Asri stressed today that non-Muslims could enter the mosque or surau with good intentions but not for political purposes.

“Non-Muslims and even Muslims cannot use the mosque for party or personal politics,” he said.

Teo has said that her visit to the surau was not politically motivated.

The Muslim scholar also said that Islamic issues needed to be evaluated with well-founded arguments.

“Using the scales of party politics to evaluate religious issues can spoil the purity of this religion. Islam is built on rational and well-founded debate, while party politics is usually built on perceptions and prejudice,” added Asri.

The popular Muslim preacher stressed that opinions and views on Islam should be based on facts.

Two days ago, Asri said that Teo’s action of entering the inner sanctum of the surau was not against Islamic teachings.