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Penang meddling in matters of fatwa, says PAS

State is vetting and even blocking the decrees to be sent to the king for assent, says Penang party chief.

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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is meddling in matters of fatwa (Islamic decrees) which are rightfully within the purview of the state Fatwa Committee and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, claimed PAS today.

Penang PAS chief Muhammad Fauzi Yusof said the Penang government had ordered that all fatwa go through the state executive council before they are passed as state law.

Under state law, the state Fatwa Committee can issue a decree which is to be presented to the king for assent, following which it will be gazetted as fatwa under the state Administration of Islam Enactment 2004.

Fauzi said the state government’s interference went against the enactment which, under Section 48, stated that all fatwa decided in Penang were to be sent to the king for consideration.

In the states that do not have a sultan, such as Penang, the leader of Islam is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“When PAS was with Pakatan Rakyat, we objected to the meddling outright and internally via the state Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Malik Abdul Kasim.

“But till today, the meddling in the fatwa process continues. The fatwa now has to go through the state executive committee chaired by the chief minister before it is presented to the king.

“Such a situation makes the state executive council chaired by the chief minister more powerful than the state Fatwa Committee in matters of Islam.

“It indirectly lowers the function of the state mufti and the king, contrary to what is prescribed in the state Islamic laws,” Fauzi said at a press conference at the Markas Tarbiah PAS in Pongsu Seribu, Kepala Batas, today.

Fauzi claimed several fatwa had failed to see the light of day after they were “frozen” by the state executive council.

“These said fatwa have not been presented to the king as they were not to the ‘selera’ (liking) of DAP and PKR,” he said.

At the press conference, state PAS Youth chief Hafnan Hamimi Taib Azamudden said the state executive committee had put “many” fatwa on hold.

Among these was the decree forbidding Muslims from taking part in beauty pageants, he claimed.

“And when the Fatwa Committee asked the state religious affairs Exco Datuk Abdul Malik why the fatwa was withheld, it was told it is the prerogative of the state government to ‘tangguh’ (postpone) any fatwa in consideration of the political situation and sentiment in Penang.

“What needs to be understood here is that fatwa in Penang are decided on by the Fatwa Committee, which comprises many people.

“It is one of the highest Islamic institutions in Penang.

“So when the fatwa is withheld by the state government, led by DAP and PKR, the status of the Fatwa Committee itself is lowered.”

FMT has contacted state mufti Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor and Exco Malik and are awaiting their comments.

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