Even Fatwa Council opinion binding on Muslims, minister suggests amid RIP row

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The National Fatwa Council’s advisories are binding to Muslims even if these are not official edicts or gazetted as law, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom suggested today.

The minister in charge of religious affairs could not clarify whether the statement the council issued onto the Muslim use of the phrase “Rest in Peace” last December was an opinion or a gazetted fatwa (religious edict), but insisted that it is applicable nonetheless.

“We hold to the view of the Fatwa Council,” Jamil told reporters here, after a Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) event.

This comes as the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association (MMLA) commented yesterday that the advisory was just an opinion posted on the Fatwa Council's blog rather than a fatwa proper.

When quizzed about MMLA's comment, Jamil maintained that the opinion had originated from the National Fatwa Council.

On Thursday, a news portal published a report alleging that the Islamic council issued an edict banning the Muslim use of the phrase “rest in peace” and its abbreviation, RIP,  just when they spread across social media as users expressed sympathies over DAP veteran Karpal Singh's accidental death.

This was later disputed by MMLA, who pointed out that the council neither issued such a statement nor did so after Karpal’s death.

The next day, a leader of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) also stressed that “infidels” go to hell when they die.

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom could not clarify whether the statement issued by the Fatwa Council on Muslim use of the phrase ‘Rest in Peace’ last December was an opinion or a gazetted fatwa. — File pic
Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom could not clarify whether the statement issued by the Fatwa Council on Muslim use of the phrase ‘Rest in Peace’ last December was an opinion or a gazetted fatwa. — File pic

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Isma central committee member Mohd Hazizi Ab Rahman had called on Muslims to be more discerning when they pay their respects.

Fatwas are opinions issued by Islamic clerics on a multitude of issues. Although these are advisory in nature, Malaysia occasionally gazettes some into law.

Karpal, 74, was killed after the Toyota Alphard MPV he was travelling in crashed following a collision with a lorry along the North-South Highway near Gopeng, Perak at about 1.10am on Thursday.

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