Wahhabism and Shia main threats, says Jakim official

(The Malaysian Insider) – Wahhabism and Shia Islam are key threats to Malaysia’s security and should be kept under close watch to ensure they do not lead to extremism, a Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) official has said.

The National Security Council (NSC) put a group of clerics on its terror watch-list last week for preaching Wahhabism, a puritanical strain of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia. Several Shia Muslims have also been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for their beliefs.

“The biggest threat to the country at the moment is Wahhabism and Shia (Islam) … extreme teachings,” Islamic Training Institute of Malaysia’s assistant director Zamihan Mat Zin told The Malaysian Insider before last week’s NSC meeting.

He said if the group was not watched, their teachings could potentially to threaten the ethics of Islamic affairs management in Malaysia.

“(The government) needs to curtail them to harmonise Sunni teachings in Malaysia.”

Zamihan stressed that, if left alone, Wahhabism and Shia Islam could “sow the seeds of extremism as seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia and Chechnya”.

He said certain parties were now actively promoting both teachings with financial assistance from foreign missions here.

“There are preachers who receive huge allowances every month… They will deny it if anyone asks them but we have proof,” said the cleric who is in the Quran and core knowledge division in the institute.

Zamihan added that, according to his research, Wahhabism and Shia Islam have about one million followers each in Malaysia.

He previously claimed that Wahhabism receives protection from politicians and has made inroads into religious agencies at national and state levels.

Zamihan also told The Malaysian Insider that the question of stopping the spread of Wahhabism should not be seen as a diplomatic issue but one of national security and mutual interest.