After Criticism, Penang Islamic Authority to Probe Shahul

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The preacher’s statements have been called “absurd, nonsensical and uncalled for”.

Preacher’s no-nos for Muslims:

  • Patronising non-Muslim hairdressers
  • Children studying in “non-Muslim” schools
  • Wishing “Happy Birthday”
  • Saying “Hello”

The Penang State Islamic Religious Department will investigate controversial preacher Shahul Hamid Seeni Muhammad to check on his accreditation as a religious preacher.

State Islamic religious affairs committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said Shahul will be investigated under the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Penang) Enactment 2004.

“Under the enactment, an Islamic religious preacher must be accredited to be able to preach and those who are accredited are subjected to six conditions,” he said at a press conference in Komtar, Penang, yesterday.

Among the conditions listed is that the preacher must not offend other races, religions and cultures that may cause racial tension amongst the community, he added.

He said if Shahul is found not to be accredited, he could be charged in the Shariah Court for preaching without accreditation.

“If he is accredited, we will investigate if what he said had broken any of the conditions and if proven he went against the conditions, his accreditation will be revoked,” Abdul Malik said.

He said the Penang Islamic Religious Council will then decide on the next action to take against Shahul.

Abdul Malik was responding to criticisms against Shahul who allegedly said it was wrong for Muslim women to have their hair cut by non-Muslim female hairdressers and that Muslim parents should not send their children to schools managed by non-Muslims.

Earlier yesterday, Penang MCA lodged a police report against Shahul for making such controversial statements which they believe could cause racial tension.

In the police report, Abdul Malik was also mentioned for not taking action against Shahul.

State MCA secretary Tan Chuan Hong had accused Abdul Malik of “supporting” Shahul with his earlier statement that the preacher has a right to express his opinion.

The whole issue emerged when two-year-old videos of Shahul making those statements resurfaced several days ago.

One of the videos on hair salons has since been taken down from YouTube.

Meanwhile, Shahul denied that he used the word ‘haram’ (prohibited) despite being recorded saying so in a video clip.

“If you watch the video carefully, I only said that while there is no dalil (Quranic and Hadith verses) that prohi­bits a man to hold the hair of another man, it is better to find a shop operated by Muslims to help them in the economy,” Shahul was quoted as saying by The Star.

In his videos, Shahul told Muslims not to patronise non-Muslim hairdressers, not to send their children to “non-Muslim” schools, and not to even wish “Happy Birthday” or say “Hello”.

However, Abdul Malik said that Sha­hul’s statements were absurd, nonsensical and uncalled for and called on the people of Penang to disregard the remarks and work together to forge greater unity for peace, harmony and success, The Star reported.

“It’s in very bad taste, especially coming from a learned person like him.

“The state government will not tolerate this kind of nonsense and will act accordingly to enhance and inculcate the wisdom and true teaching of Islam that promotes love, respect and harmony,” Abdul Malik was quoted as saying.

KE Ooi

According to the Malay Mail Online, Abdul Malik said Shahul is known in Penang for his “critical and aggressive approach” in his sermons.

He reassured locals that there will never be “Muslims-only” hair salons in Penang.

Penang Mufti Datuk Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor reminded ustaz and Islamic preachers in the state to be careful in choosing the terms they used, according to the daily.

“Words like ‘orang kafir’ or others which may hurt the feelings of people of other races and religions should be avoided.

“This is to avoid people from ha­­ving a bad impression of Islam or makes it hard for them to accept Islamic teaching,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic matters Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki also weighed in on ignoring strange or confusing fatwas from preachers.

He gave a reminder that only state muftis who are appointed by their respective state Rulers are authorised to issue fatwas.

“There are those who become famous via reality television shows who have become brave to publish their own rules.

Yusof Mat Isa

“After the launderette issue, there is an issue purportedly that it is haram to get a haircut with non-Muslims, until it caused polemic in the society,” Asyraf said in a Facebook post.

In a separate Facebook post, Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri stressed that Islam today does not ban Muslim women from having their hair cut by non-Muslims.

He added that his office has explained the matter before that there are differing opinions among Islamic scholars on this subject and that there is no specific rule banning such practices.

Commenting on Shahul’s controversial statements, Penang government information officer and Islamic preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin – who was recently detained and investigated for alleged sedition – told the Malay Mail Online that it is not wrong for Muslim women to have their hair cut by female hairdressers in non-Muslim hair salons.

He reportedly pointed out that a famous ulama, Syaikh Salman Auda, had stated that celebrating birthdays is “harus”, and it is not true that it is haram for Muslims to study in Chinese schools.

This is not the first time Shahul had raised controversial issues against non-Muslims.

In 2014, he was arrested and investigated for sedition after a video clip of him telling Muslims not to buy curry powder from Hindu companies were circulated online.

There were calls for action to be taken against the preacher before he finally issued a public apology and retracted his statement.