Visit our new website:

Malaysia’s Islamic preachers: Who are they really?

  • Tue, 14 Nov 2017 17:16

MANY Malaysians seem to be very angry with Jakim (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) preacher and officer, Zamihan Mat Zin.

Local police are even investigating the cleric for sedition, because of something he said during a speech in Johor, Malaysia’s southernmost state.

Zamihan stands accused of sedition because in his speech, he labelled the Chinese unclean when referring to how a laundromat in the state had put up a signage saying they don’t serve non-Muslims.

In that same ceramah, he also criticised an unnamed member of royalty who was apparently unhappy with the laundromat and decreed that the sign be taken down.

SEE ALSO: Sultan of Johor wants to scrub Malaysia of Muslim-only laundromat

As a person of authority in Islam, it was irresponsible of Zamihan to say such a thing, especially so when we live in a multiracial and multireligious society like Malaysia. In my opinion, it reeks of racism, bigotry, elitism, entitlement and ignorance.

Islam does not say Muslims cannot live harmoniously with non-Muslims. In fact, during Prophet Muhammad’s time, there were many non-Muslim communities living under his government… and they were protected.

And although they were preached to, they were not forced to convert and accept the religion.


Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. Source: AP.

The Quran says, in Surah Al Baqarah, that there is no compulsion in religion… and Muhammad stood by that. If there were those who did not accept his teachings, he simply let it be and moved on.

Hence why it is crucial that we accept, understand and respect the beliefs of all faiths. We have no need for any kind of hate speech or ideology, not especially if we want to live in peace and harmony. This has to be on the wishlist of every Malaysian… right?

Which brings me to the question: Why is a religious cleric like Zamihan, a person of authority who teaches and preaches the tenets of Islam, spouting what is clearly divisive rhetoric to a nation often told to celebrate its uniqueness and diversity?

SEE ALSO: Why is Malaysia allocating more money for the degradation of Islam?

Here’s something for context. Malaysia is a developing country and in many developing countries, human resource development is often focused on producing and developing skill-sets in professions like engineering, medicine, law, finance and accounting, and of course, technology.

Oftentimes, parents try to push their kids into these areas, thinking of these as elite jobs that will rake in good money.

Those who can’t quite make the cut in these more technical fields, whether due to financial constraints or a knowledge gap, will then be pushed to do other things.

These ‘other things’ could be a myriad of other fields such as Islamic studies or mass communication (this is a discussion for another day!). Islamic studies is even sometimes seen as a rehabilitation programme for youth and students who have disciplinary problems.

This may be overly-presumptuous and simplistic of me to suggest, but does this mean that many of those who take up Islamic studies at the tertiary level are only doing so because they couldn’t perform so well in other fields? Are we then scraping the bottom of the barrel when we look to them later as religious experts?

I do admit this is a sweeping statement and that there are actually many intelligent, high achievers who deliberately choose to take up Islamic studies because it is their passion. But I honestly believe that in Malaysia, these are few and far between.

SEE ALSO: Religious fundamentalism in Malaysia: reality vs rhetoric

And so that leaves us with guys like Zamihan Mat Zin, who works for Jakim. Aside from the police investigation against him, he’s not been made to face any official action. Jakim has not reprimanded him and neither has the government.

In fact, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi even defended him, saying he plays a key role in rehabilitating Muslim extremists detained in prison. How an extremist can rehabilitate other extremists is beyond my comprehension.

As it stands now, Zamihan is already developing an arrogant attitude. He was banned by the Sultans of Selangor and Johor from preaching in their states. He has responded saying he expected it but is unfazed because he is preaching the ‘truth’ and he has nothing to be afraid of.

If there is no real official action taken to reprimand Zamihan for what he did, I am worried that that more and more Malaysians will either be swayed by his beliefs, which is a warped interpretation of Islam.

Or maybe it’ll just make more people hate Muslims and the religion of Islam.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of Asian Correspondent

The post Malaysia’s Islamic preachers: Who are they really? appeared first on Asian Correspondent.

Asian Correspondent



Related Stories

US is ‘seriously’ training for possible North Korean conflict, top brass confirm
  • Wed, 17 Jan 2018 05:08

The US military is conducting “very serious” training for a possible conflict with North Korea, a top Republican lawmaker confirmed on Tue...

U.S. Plans New Nuclear Weapons
  • Wed, 17 Jan 2018 03:09

The Pentagon is planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons to respond to Russia and China’s growing military capabilities, according to a...

Chart of the day: Looking for a yuan burst
  • Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:10

September’s daily and monthly hammer candles in the onshore yuan chart marked an important interim low, as we pointed out in this column. Over t...

2019 VW Jetta vs. 2018 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Kia Forte: How they compare
  • Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:53

Filed under: Detroit Auto Show,Honda,Kia,Volkswagen,Sedan,Comparison How do Kia's and VW's bestsellers stack up?Continue reading 201...

China rejects Vancouver talks on North Korea crisis as illegitimate
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:13

China has dismissed a 20-nation meeting in Vancouver on the North Korea nuclear crisis as “illegitimate” because representatives from Beij...

These nine companies banned from the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund for ethical reasons
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:08

Norway’s US$ 1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has excluded nine groups, including the UK’s military equipment...

‘The spasm of a lunatic’: North Korea takes aim at Donald Trump’s tweet about ‘nuclear button’
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:10

North Korea’s state-run media has described US President Donald Trump’s tweet about having a bigger nuclear button than leader Kim Jong-un...

‘They only came out at night’
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:23

NEIGHBOURS of the Turpin family in Perris, California, have described their odd behaviour and “heartbreak” at not realising what was happening in ...

Is the US a bigger debt risk than Russia and Botswana? A Chinese rating agency thinks so
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:10

A Chinese credit rating agency has cut its outlook and rating for the United States to BBB+, putting the debt repayment capacity of the world’s ...

Two men arrested for beating restaurant owner for ‘slow service’ in northeast China
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:10

Two men have been arrested for beating a woman for “slow service” in her restaurant in northeast China, a local newspaper reported. Survei...

‘An era to forget’: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib hails close Singapore ties while taking aim at Mahathir Mohamad
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:09

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak praised his country’s relationship with neighbouring Singapore on Tuesday, but added a jibe for his closest...

No tail wagging this Chinese New Year in Malaysia
  • Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:10

CHINESE New Year is approaching and I am excited! It’s the time of year when my family will get together for a reunion dinner (that’s on the e...

News Categories