An Amanah MP lambasted Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria over the latter’s statement telling all quarters to stop pestering mufti, ulama and religious leaders for their comment on the alleged embezzlement and money laundering involving government investment arm 1MDB.
“It is not purely an issue of finance but touches on the core issue of Islamic precepts, and what is halal (allowed) and haram (proscribed) in Islam,” Amanah Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad said in a statement.
He was responding to Harussani who told a news portal last month that there is no need for a fatwa on 1MDB as attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali has cleared the sovereign fund from culpability.
While the National Fatwa Council chairperson Shukor Husin said that the body is not looking at the 1MDB matter, as it has been scrutinised by professionals, arguing that as religiously-trained persons, they have no technical knowledge about global economic matters.
Raa Bahrin, who is a member of the Terengganu royalty, said that the Conference of Malay Rulers, together with politicians, foreign governments, youth as well as Christian priests have called for a resolution on the long standing 1MDB issue.
Yesterday in its National Day message, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia said critical issues affecting the country, such as the 1MDB affair, need to be resolved urgently.
“In Islam, isn’t it the duty of ulama and religious leaders to speak the truth in front of unjust leaders even if the consequences are dire?”
Raja Bahrin argued that it is not correct to say that ulama cannot comment on economic matters as internationally acclaimed leader like Dr Yusof Qardawi and local ulama like the late Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat spoke on global matters and their words treated with respect by society.
While as for specific expertise, he pointed out that the Conference of Rulers had engaged experts on the matter to explain the issue to them, so that they can rule on it.
Similarly, Raja Bahrin contends that those who want to can always get experts to help them.
But economic and financial expertise aside, the prince pointed to issues relating to 1MDB which are related to Islam, and under the obvious purview of the religious leaders and within the realm of their knowledge.
He noted that the Dewan Rakyat Hansard for example has enough details on the religious aspects of the issue.
Raja Bahrin related when he asked the Finance Ministry about the billions of ringgit in 1MDB funds which were invested in the Cayman Islands, known as a haven for money laundering, gambling and drug trafficking.
“The same funds were transferred back to Malaysia. We also know from the government that 1MDB sponsored people to perform the haj in Makkah (using the said funds). Shouldn’t this peaked the interests of religious leaders. This is just an example,” he said.
Even if the allegations by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning 1MDB is said to be suspect, Raja Bahrin argued that the action of Abu Dhabi government, an Islamic administration, to arrest its citizen Khadem Al-Qubaisi for using RM400 million to purchase nightclubs in Las Vegas should be a yardstick.
Waiting for them to state their stand
Raja Bahrin contends that the pressure for the ulama and mufti to comment on 1MDB actually arose from the affection held by Muslims for the religious institution which is supposed to play a part in Islam which encompasses all aspects of life and even governance.
He said people are waiting for religious leaders to state their stand on the matter that involves abuse of trust, power and graft, which are proscribed in Islam.
Considering that the matters of the alleged embezzlement and money laundering ar being investigated by competent regulators and enforcement agencies in multiple international jurisdictions, Raja Bahrin said it is illogical to state that the allegations are just empty accusations or slander.
“Public sentiments toward religious institutions and its leaders are based on the very actions of those in religious authority. As religious leaders they are duty bound to play a part in defending Islamic precepts and continue to be relevant.
“We urge and advise because we want to see the religious institution continue to be respected,” he said.
Raja Bahrin concluded that it does not speak well about the state of the nation’s religious establishments when those among the clergy who point out government weakness, like Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, are attacked and asked to be let go.
While those who toe the government line like Pahang mufti Abdul Rahman Osman and made controversial and potentially dangerous statement like his ‘kafir harbi’ call, were defended and given dispensation.
After the 1MDB case made international headlines, the latest of which is the DOJ filing to seize assets linked to monies allegedly embezzled from the sovereign fund, there were calls for Malaysia’s religious leadership to comment on the matter, though they have been largely quiet except for Mohd Asri and a few others.