Wahhabism out of place in Malaysia, says fatwa council chief

Up to each state to restrict the movement says fatwa chairman after ban by Negeri Sembilan

wahabism-noKUALA LUMPUR: The National Fatwa Council has described Wahhabism as “out of place” in Malaysia, a week after Negeri Sembilan religious authorities prohibited the puritan Saudi Arabian-based sect of Islam.

Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the National Fatwa Council, said Wahhabi followers were fond of declaring Muslims of other schools as apostates merely on the grounds that they did not conform to Wahhabi teachings.

Islam in Malaysia follows the Sunni tradition of the Shafi’i school and is the only form of Islam declared legal. The Shiah, Islam’s second-largest branch largely followed in Iran and Iraq, has been declared as a “deviant” form.

Last week, the mufti of Negri Sembilan had declared that the movement is haram for being against Sunni teachings. Wahhabism, the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, has been blamed for the rise of extremist Islamist groups around the world.

Dr Abdul Shukor was quoted as saying that the Wahhabi “view every practice that was not performed by Prophet Muhammad as bid’ah, a departure from Islam, not in accordance with the sunnah.”

He said it was up to each state to restrict the teachings of the Wahhabi through decrees, or fatwa.

Negeri Sembilan’s decision has been criticised by the permanent chairman of the ulama wing of PAS, Dr Hamdan Muhammad, who was quoted as saying that the state authority was hasty in issuing its decree.

“We are preachers and not judges to say this is allowed and that is not. We have to be careful in deciding because it is the right of Allah,” Sinar Harian quoted him as saying.

Wahhabi followers, also called salafis, have spread the movement’s teachings across the world since the 1970s with Saudi Arabia funding missionary efforts through books, scholarships, and building Islamic education institutions.

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