Okay to practice but not to promote Shi’ism


Jamil Khir denies that the government has flip-flopped on its stance on Syiah Islam.

(FMT) – Followers of Syiah Islam are allowed to practice their religion in Malaysia but not to propagate it among local Muslims, Minister in the Prime Minister Department Jamil Khir Baharom said today.

Asked to comment on a FMT report that the government in 2005 had endorsed the Amman Messages, which oppose discrimination against Syiah and other non-Sunni Muslims, he said recognition and permission to spread a religion were two different matters.

“It is not wrong for them to practise Syiah Islam, just like it isn’t wrong for Malaysian Chinese to practise Buddhism,” he told a press conference. “But they can’t spread the ideology to the local Muslims, who are Sunnis.

“Whoever comes to Malaysia is free to practise his own religion.

“We never harass Syiah followers, but it’s just that they are banned from spreading the ideology.”

The Amman Messages, an initiative of the King of Jordan, are aimed at promoting diversity in Islam and compel signatories to recognise schools of jurisprudence within the Sunni, Syiah, Ibadi and Thahiri expessions of Islam.

Several Malaysian leaders and scholars signed the accord in 2005. They included the then prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The first point of the agreement declares: “Whosoever is an adherent to one of the four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali ), the two Shi‘i schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Ja‘fari and Zaydi), the Ibadi school of Islamic jurisprudence and the Thahiri school of Islamic jurisprudence, is a Muslim. Declaring that person an apostate is impossible and impermissible.”

Signatories are also not allowed to declare the practitioners of Sufism and Salafism as apostates.

The second point highlights the similarities among the various schools of jurisprudence.

The third point pertains to the issuance and limitation of fatwas.

“No one may issue a fatwa without the requisite personal qualifications which each school of Islamic jurisprudence determines [for its own adherents],” it says.

In recent weeks, Malaysian religious authorities have taken steps to curb Syiah practitioners in the country.