Institution should focus on urban poverty and leave religious matters to Malay Rulers


(The Star) – “What law, divine or secular, empowers Jakim to proclaim that its version of Islam is the only path Muslims can take”

G25 member and former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail (pic) wants the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to be redeployed to handle urban poverty for Muslims and the Malay Rulers to handle religious issues.

Tawfik, whose father Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman was Malaysia’s second deputy prime minister, has maintained his strong stance against Jakim despite reports of a sedition probe against him.

“Isn’t urban poverty and the spread of high rise ghettos a problem for the religious authorities to tackle as it involves mainly urban Muslims?” he said yesterday.

“A billion ringgit a year can go very far in arresting all the urban problems faced by Muslim youths and prevent them from becoming Mat Rempit and potential recruits for mischief at home and abroad, and give dignity to their lives,” he said.

“Let the Malay Rulers and their religious councils and advisers handle religious issues in their respective states, as they are constitutionally entitled to do as the heads of the religion,” he added.

Maintaining that his views were personal and not shared by G25, Tawfik also suggested changing the focus of the existing minister, deputy minister in charge of religious affairs and the director-general of Jakim to focus on urban redevelopment among Muslims.

He questioned Jakim’s relevance and its reach in the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims in the country, adding that Islam was already enshrined in the Constitution as the religion of the country, and its position could only be threatened when the rights of the Malay Rulers were trampled on.

“What law, divine or secular, empowers Jakim to proclaim that its version of Islam is the only path Muslims can take, when Malaysia endorsed the Amman Message to accept all eight schools of Islam as legitimate?” said Tawfik, referring to 2004 global statement that declared what Islam is and is not and what strains of the religion should be recognised.

“Jakim and its supporters need to answer to the public, especially Muslims, why it is usurping the powers of the Sultans in the matter of religion.

“We are aware that attempts to erode the powers of the Malay Rulers have been ongoing since 1993 and the existence of Jakim is a reminder that the struggle continues till today,” he said.

He called on Malaysians, especially Malays, to make a stand and fight for the preservation of their history, culture and language, which make up “the glue that binds us all”.

Tawfik said the real culprits were the opponents of national integration and rational discourse who ignored the Federal Constitution as the true Social Contract.

“We as a nation have to look long and hard if we too unwittingly surrender our Malaysianness and our Malayness to an ideology alien to our way of life.

“We will be in danger of losing our identity as a nation if we allow these transgressors their way,” he said.

On reports of a sedition probe into his previous remarks on Jakim, Tawfik said he had not yet been contacted by police and did not know the exact nature of the allegations.