Cover up to ‘respect’ Muslims, Mufti tells non-Muslims in dress code rows

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria — Picture by Choo Choy May
Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 ― Non-Muslims should dress more “appropriately” in public places out of “respect” for Muslims who will sin upon seeing people, including non-Muslims, who do not cover their “aurat”, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said amid the controversy surrounding conservative dress codes enforced at government departments.

“Even when we wear properly but we see other people who show their ‘aurat’, it is haram,” Harussani told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“They should show respect for Muslims and dress more appropriately; they cannot be showing their thighs. It is not wrong for them to dress how they like, but they must be considerate because when we bump into them at public places and see this, it is considered haram for us (Muslims),” the conservative cleric added.

Harussani said Malaysians should be more open to the idea of non-Muslims dressing “appropriately” as Malaysia is seen as an “Islamic role model country”.

Harussani was commenting on the recent spate of controversies where non-Muslim women were stopped from entering public institutions such as a Penang courthouse, a Road Transport Department (RTD) office, the Selangor state secretariat, and even a public hospital for wearing knee-length skirts and shorts that were deemed indecent.

Some security personnel from the government departments even handed towels and sarongs to the women to cover up their legs in order to gain entry.

While most of the dress code controversies involved women, an ethnic Chinese man was forced last month to don long trousers to enter the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s (KLIA) Baggage Services Lost and Found section after airport security told him his knee-length shorts were inappropriate.

According to mainstream Islamic teachings, a woman’s “aurat” is defined as the whole body, except for the face and palms, while for men, it is the part between the navel and knees.

Harussani’s comment that non-Muslims should “respect” Muslims with their dressing mirrors the remarks made by a Muslim teacher at a Kedah school who had recently told non-Muslim students not to drink in front of Muslim students during Ramadan.

News portal Malaysiakini also reported Tuesday Deputy Education Minister Mary Yap as saying that out of “respect” for Muslims, non-Muslims should avoid eating or drinking in front of them during the fasting month.

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