“More importantly, it is disrespectful of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the head of Islam in the country, the state Fatwa Council and Muslims, in general,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.
He said there were no rules or regulations in Islamic or the country’s laws which allowed a state government to review fatwa or add steps in the gazetting of a fatwa.
“Considering this, it is not right for the DAP-led state government to issue such a circular. This goes to prove that the state government likes to interfere in Islamic affairs,” he said.
On Sunday, Penang Pas had demanded the state government retract its circular on the issuance of fatwa in the state.
Its commissioner, Muhammad Fauzi Yusoff, said that the previous state administration, led by Barisan Nasional, Gerakan and Umno, had never interfered in state Fatwa Council matters.
Earlier this year, Penang Pas Youth revealed that there was political intervention by the state government in the appointment of the state mufti and fatwa process. It was also revealed that several fatwa had allegedly been blocked by the state government.
A hue and cry followed, with Muslim non-governmental organisations holding protests and lodging police reports against the alleged interference by the state government.
Persatuan Anak Jati Melayu Islam chairman Yusof Mohamad said the state government should not interfere with the issuance of fatwa in the first place.
“The issuance of fatwa is a matter for the state Fatwa Council and Yang di-Pertuan Agong to decide, and not the state government. The state government’s duty is to administer the state, not Islamic affairs.”
Umno lawmaker Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad said convention stated that the state Fatwa Council should send all fatwa they decided on to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong will deliberate on the said fatwa and decide whether to endorse it. If he decides to endorse the fatwa, it will be sent to the state Fatwa Council to be gazetted. In Penang, a group of state executive councillors, comprising mostly non-Muslims, will decide on whether to allow the fatwa to go forward. This is wrong.”
He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as the head of Islam, was the best person to decide on a fatwa instead of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Penang Pas Youth chief Afnan Hamimi Taib Azamudden said Pas had, for the past four months, been asking for the state government to retract its circular and allow previously blocked fatwa to pass. However, he said, the state government had ignored Pas’ request.
He said the state government should retract its circular or face losing a majority of Muslim voters in the next general election.
Meanwhile, state Islamic Religious Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said he stood by his earlier statements that there was no interference by the state government.
The issuance of fatwa is a matter for the state Fatwa Council and Yang di-Pertuan Agong to decide, and not the state government.