Charity group ‘Who is Hussain?’ gets death threats, IGP rebuke after ‘Shiah’ accusation

The Who is Hussain? group says it is a charity organisation that aims to bring positive change towards the community and has nothing to do with religion. ― Picture via Facebook/Who is Hussain? Malaysia
The Who is Hussain? group says it is a charity organisation that aims to bring positive change towards the community and has nothing to do with religion. ― Picture via Facebook/Who is Hussain? Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 ― The local chapter of the Who is Hussain? charity group urged police yesterday to investigate a barrage of death and violent threats made against it online after it distributed iftar, the Muslim end of fast, packs on Sunday.

However, the group was left dismayed after Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador instead admonished them last night, which it blamed on alleged slander by Muslim evangelical group Fakir Ilmu on Monday.

“Our organisation is a charity organisation that aims to bring positive change towards the community. That is our main aim. It has nothing to do with religion,” said country representative Natasha, 30. (She declined to give her patronym due to the sensitivity of the matter).

Natasha, who professes to be Sunni, told Malay Mail the group focuses on environmental issues, poverty, and homelessness, among others, and the iftar pack distribution was part of their advocacy programme.

In Malaysia, only the Sunni denomination of Islam and its Shafie school of jurisprudence are considered official.

Shiah is Islam’s second-largest denomination and practised by an estimated 15 per cent of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, but is regarded as deviant here.

The Who is Hussain group, comprising members of different faiths, distributed the packs — containing Muslim prayer beads, dates, a juice box, and leaflets explaining their activities — in the vicinity of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman on Sunday.

Natasha explained that had been no controversy from the public until Fakir Ilmu published Facebook and blog posts accusing the group of being Shiah.

The situation was similar to another incident in September last year, when convert group Multiracial Reverted Muslims and its founder, Firdaus Wong Wai Hung, made the same accusation after the group held its event at the same spot in Bukit Bintang usually frequented by the group’s Street Dakwah volunteers during its evangelical missions.

Following Fakir Ilmu’s accusation, Who is Hussain’s Facebook page was inundated with derogatory, violent reviews and comments from users purporting to be Muslims.

The group subsequently lodged a police report against the commenters and Fakir Ilmu.

Yesterday, IGP Abdul Hamid said the police would work with religious authorities to stop the group over what he described as an “irresponsible” act that “goes against Sunni teachings”.

Natasha expressed her disappointment over Abdul Hamid’s remark, explaining that the group already met the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) to explain its position prior to yesterday.

Hussain (alternately spelled Husayn or Hussein) was a grandson of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and the son of the latter’s youngest daughter, Fatimah, with his cousin Ali ibn Abu Talib.

Hussain had refused to pledge allegiance to the Umayyad caliph, Yazid, whom he considered unjust and was later assassinated by the latter’s army along with most of his family and companions. He was 55 at the time of his death.

The incident solidified the schism between Sunnis and Shiahs, with the former believing Muhammad did not appoint a successor while the latter holds otherwise.