Sabah progressive and tolerant
Published on: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The Federal Government will learn how Islamic affairs are administered in Sabah, a unique state that it sees as a progressive but tolerant society that embraces adherents of all other faiths, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Islamic Affairs Dato' Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (pic) said.Mujahid said the new federal government is basing its administration on three basic concepts, namely "rahmatan lil alamin" or blessings for all and not just Muslims, "maqasid syariah" or Islamic rulings that address not only the problem at hand but also the bigger picture and thirdly the "Malaysian model".

"We want Malaysia to be a model of Islamic administration for the whole world where there are countries with even 90pc Muslim population but they can't rule their country well because of their many misunderstandings," he said.

"Sabah has actually practised these concepts with its 'Fiqh Sabahi' [Islamic law suitable for Sabah] and we the federal government will learn a lot from this state.

"For example, I'm impressed by the fact that Sabah has issued different rulings on well-wishing adherents of other faiths celebrating their religious festivities, giving the 'salam' [Islamic greeting] to and answering it from non-Muslims and also giving the 'daging korban' [meat from animals slaughtered during Hari Raya Haji] to people from other faiths.

"These rulings were given based on the unique situation of the people in Sabah and were not rigidly made, which is something that states in the peninsular dare not yet venture into," Mujahid told a press conference at the Nadwah Ulama Nahdhah Jadidah, an Islamic seminar, Tuesday.

The seminar was organised by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia, Yayasan Dakwah Islam Malaysia, Tabung Haji, Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department and ISRA Association of Malaysia.

The Minister said such openness and acceptance among Sabahans of all faiths and the legacy left by the late Tun Datu Mustapha, Sabah's first Head of State, have advantages in "dakwah" or Islamic propagation.

"Sabah recorded the highest number of conversions to Islam, totalling 7,592, from 1990 to 2004, followed by Sarawak, Selangor, Perak and other states," he said.

"The number of 'mualafs' (Muslim converts) in Sabah is very high and significant, compared to other states where the number is only around 3,000-5,000 per state.

"Islam spreads through openness and its propagation will be hindered if Muslims insult others from beliefs."

Mujahid also said the federal government's proposal to increase the legal marriageable age to 18 will take into account Sabah's local customs and religious practices.

He said the federal government understands that some people in Sabah allow their young children to get married as per their native customs but the government is also concerned about children exploitation.

"We will try to achieve balance between native/religious practices and our concerns about children exploitation," he said.

"We will have a roundtable in November or December that gathers ulamas, academicians, muftis, legal practitioners and others to gain their inputs before we ban marriage under 18.

"(If we ban such marriages) We will try see how the law should provide for those found involved in such marriages, those with even kids after such marriages and whether we will separate the girls from their husbands."

The Minister stressed that in Islam, the government has the power to declare something that is "harus" (neither permissible nor prohibited) as "haram" or unlawful based on the concept of "taqi al mubah" (narrowing the ruling for something harus) depending on prevailing circumstances. - Zam Yusa

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