KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Questions surround an Islamic scholar touted to be a former Anglican priest in Germany slated to speak in a religious talk in Sabah tonight.
The Church of St Augustine of Canterbury in Wiesbaden, Germany has refuted Ustaz Ayub Abdul Rahman’s claim to have previously served in its parish.
“His claims are untrue. He has never served here, neither as rector, nor as associate priest.
“We are an American Episcopal church and since the end of the 2nd World War, all our priests have come from the USA,” Rev Christopher Easthill, the priest in charge of the church, told Malay Mail Online in an email response yesterday.
The Episcopal church is what American Anglicans call their denomination after their new country declared independence from England. The word means “to have bishops”.
Easthill confirmed that Ayub had never held any official function at his church, adding that his bishop had written to the Malaysian Anglican Church after being contacted earlier this year over the same matter.
In the January 15, 2016 letter addressed to Datuk Ng Moon Hing, the current Archbishop of South-east Asia and Bishop of West Malaysia for the Anglican church — and sighted by Malay Mail Online — Bishop Pierre W. Whalon said Ayub had never acted as a priest in any Episcopal churches.
“As Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, I certify to you that no priest named ‘Al Fadhil Ustaz Ayob Abdul Rahman’ has ever served as a priest in our parish of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Wiesbaden, Germany, or in any Episcopal congregation in Europe or elsewhere,” he wrote.
Whalon noted Ayub’s purported Christian name is “Reverend Anthony Perumal Samy Viagulam”, but confirmed that “no one by that name or anything close is listed as an ordained Episcopal priest” in any of the countries where there are Episcopal churches.
“Please convey to your government, our Anglican Church in Malaysia, other churches, and Muslim authorities our strongest possible protest that this man continues to claim falsely to have been an Episcopal priest,” Whalon added.
He also requested for “all due sanctions” under local laws to be taken against Ayub.
A flyer advertising the Sabah event titled “Perjalanan Hijrah & Dakwah — Catatan Kehidupan” was posted on April 12 on the Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department’s (Jheains) Facebook account.
The flyer described Ayub as a former Christian priest at the Church of St Augustine of Canterbury at “Frankfurter” in Germany and the 2005 recipient of the Maal Hijrah Personality award for Sarawak in the category of new Muslim converts.
Malay Mail Online was not able to immediately obtain clarification from those listed as the organisers of Ayub’s talk, which is advertised as free and open to the public.
A check of the Facebook page of Institut Pengajian al-Quran, one of the listed organisers, showed that the talk is part of a series of event in conjunction with its maiden two-day “Mahrajan Ilmu Al-Quran Sabah 2016” that runs from today onwards.
An old video interview on YouTube uploaded three years ago shows a man identified as Ayub Abdur Rahman, who claimed to be an east Malaysian Muslim convert formerly known as “Reverend Anthony Swamy Viagulam” and formerly in the Roman Catholic Church — which is a separate Christian denomination from the Episcopal or Anglican Church.
The video featured a logo of Peace TV, the broadcast outlet that features and describes popular Indian Muslim televangelist Dr Zakir Naik as its “idealogue and driving force”.
The Mumbai-based Islamic scholar recently stirred controversy in Malaysia with his lecture series roadshow.