Will JAKIM be re-branded under PMX?

DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim is wrong if he moves to the right; he is also wrong if he turns left. But the road is often not a straight line.

This is the current position that the 10th Prime Minister (PMX) finds himself in, especially when our society is so fragmented.

Anwar’s announcement that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) would be given a bigger role had landed him in hot soup.

He was accused by some like blogger Raggie Jessie Rithaudeen as “trying very hard to curry favour with Muslims ahead of the state elections.”

Raggie put him in a spot by saying that Anwar also “got shaken up when some non-Muslims began accusing him of being excessively Islamic”. We think “got shaken up” is but an over-exaggeration.

Anwar is indeed in an unenviable position. However, let us take a good look at what Anwar is trying to achieve through JAKIM.

Jakim – being allocated such a big budget for many years now – ought to be given a bigger task, not limited to only “preaching, conducting training and jointly organising Quran recital competitions with the state governments”.

In short, JAKIM has to contribute towards national development and help the unity government to develop policies that support the “Malaysia Madani” concept.

With Anwar now on the overdrive in his anti-graft campaign, it is likely that JAKIM will have to develop long-term policies to curb corruption.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahin (middle) extending financial aid to Islamic educational institute

Listen again to what Anwar had to say: “What I did was instruct the ulama, mufti and the figures in JAKIM to be in line with current developments so that their input can be used to benefit (the country) and uplift the dignity of our government”.

While most non-Muslims are concerned about the ugly scenes in the past such as snatching the body of a deceased family member during moments of grief based on some frivolous testimonies by unknown individuals that could not be verified by family members, this may not happen again during PMX’s term.

Such may not be the case with Anwar’s position. We believe he is a different kettle of fish altogether. We believe that Anwar would want JAKIM to study the mechanism to ensure that a person’s conversion into Islam is genuine and known to their family members to avoid another ugly scene over a dead corpse.

Unlike his predecessors, Anwar has no qualm visiting a church in Kajang where he was invited to discuss their problems; no other past PMs had ever done this before. But a photograph with Anwar and a cross in the background has turned into smear campaign.

We believe Anwar will make JAKIM play a bigger role in curbing all the physical and verbal abuses which have both irked many non-Muslims, hence give Islam a bad name.

Since Anwar is on the overdrive against graft, the agency is likely also to support the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in eradicating graft in the country. As someone puts it, it takes Islam to reset Islam in the country. There are no other options.

In his writing, political observer Professor Dr Mohd Tajuddin Rasdi said: “Anwar now has two battle fronts. The most serious one is with the Malays in order to convince them that the Islam which is more inclusive and moderate is the better Islam that Allah wants and a salvation to the afterlife.”

Between the PAS version of Islam championed by its current president, Tan Sri Hadi Awang and Anwar’s version of Islam, we believe Malaysia will be better off with moderate Islam which is respected internationally.

For non-Muslims, as long as their freedom to exercise their own religions, including usage within their own context of words that are also held dearly by them, remain protected under the Federal Constitution, we believe Anwar’s Madani concept of Islam will be a better choice for a multi-religious and multi-cultural society. – June 19, 2023.

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