Petaling Jaya—Muslims are not allowed to participate in interfaith prayers in Malaysia, be it mass silent prayer or in separate rituals at events.
This was the explanations given by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) in a letter dated Aug 7 in response to a query from the Department of National Unity and Integration (Perpaduan), says Malaysiakini.
Jakim also said this was decided way back in 2006 all-state fatwa councils in Malaysia. It says Muslims should not instruct non-Muslims to pray according to their individual faiths. It adds that Muslim prayers should only be made to Allah, the merciful.
But individuals who belong to other faiths may still either organise or take part in the mass recital of prayers during inter-faith gatherings.
But “if they pray according to their own religious teachings on their own accord, the act is not prohibited, ” Jakim said.
Earlier, a directive was issued from the Department of National Unity and Integration to the effect that joint prayers at events which include both Muslims and non-Muslims have been barred.
This directive said that joint prayers should instead be replaced by activities which spread the unity message.
The decision from Jakim was also based on an opinion by the Negri Sembilan mufti Mohd Yusof Ahmad, as published in Malaysian daily Berita Harian on August 7. Mr Yusof said that when Muslims recite the doa or prayer in a joint-prayer setting with non-Muslims, this lowers the status of Islam.
It was reported by an online portal, The Malaysian Insight, that the committee to promote understanding and harmony between different faiths, which is under Malaysia’s National Unity and Integration Department, had issued the directive on Tuesday, September 3.
In the directive, two types of prayer sessions were mentioned. The first involves Muslims reciting their prayers together with individuals from other faiths who also recite their prayers before the opening of an event or function.
The second type is when groups of Muslims and non-Muslims pray separately before the beginning of a function or event./ TISG