Lotfi didn’t die a ‘martyr’, says Perak mufti

A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014. — Reuters pic
A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Malaysian Mohd Lotfi Ariffin did not die as a religious “martyr” because he was not in a jihad but fighting against the Syrian government with other rebels, Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has said.

Mohd Lotfi’s act of fighting in Syria in “revolt” against the government there was a “wrong interpretation of jihad” and “not Islamic”, he said when asked to comment on the PAS Ulama wing’s decision to call Lotfi a “martyr”.

“My opinion is that they are not going for jihad, wrongly interpreted. What happened in Syria, they are against the government, (it) is wrong to say jihad.

“Even if he died there, he is not a martyr,” Harussani told Malay Mail Online recently.

The result is merely a “waste of life”, he added.

According to the correct interpretation of jihad, Muslims fight to defend Islam and one’s own country from “penjajah” or colonialists, he said.

“If you are defending your religion, property or country, then it’s jihad, and you die in that country, that means you are a martyr,” he added.

When asked to comment on fears that the elevation of Lotfi as a martyr would encourage other Malaysian Muslims to emulate his example and take up arms in Syria, Harussani said that they should first find out for themselves the “correct meaning” of jihad.

“They must ask the right person and institutions of religion, state mufti departments,” he said.

Harussani also agreed with PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s show of support for Hamas, saying that the Palestinian militant group was engaged in jihad as they seek to defend their land from Israel who had taken over parts of their country.

“From Muslims (who come) from anywhere to Palestine and fight Israel, they are defending the country,” he said, adding that they would be defending a “sacred” land.

Last week, Abdul Hadi warned PAS members against joining violent jihadist militant groups such as the Islamic state (IS), but reiterated support for Hamas.

During the PAS muktamar last week, the party’s ulama wing observed a moment of silence for Mohd Lotfi, as PAS Perak delegate Norazli Musa led a recital for the “martyr Lotfi”.

PAS had earlier last week offered its condolences to Mohd Lotfi’s family, with PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar saying the party still respects Mohd Lotfi’s decision to tread the path of jihadism and fight in war-torn Syria despite expelling him.

The man touted as a “martyr” by fellow Malaysian jihadists was sacked in a PAS central meeting on May 11, PAS-owned newspaper Harakah reported. The party severed all ties with Mohd Lotfi a month later.

Mohd Lotfi was reportedly critically injured and fell into a coma after his group of fighters was caught in a fighter jet attack allegedly ordered by the army of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.