KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — Federal religious authority Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) has publicly opposed today a proposal for students to learn about other religions in schools or universities.
Its director-general Datuk Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim said although Jakim does not agree with the proposal, it nonetheless backs cross-cultural programmes in schools and universities, so as to lessen misunderstanding between the faiths.
“Any new policy which involves the interests of the Islamic community, including in the education sector, ought to be studied in depth so that it will not have a negative impact upon the Muslims in this country in particular, and other communities in general,” he said in a Facebook post.
On Saturday, Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) president Jufitri Joha was reported as saying that the Islamic studies subject currently being taught in schools was good, but it only focused on one religion.
He said his proposal for students to learn about other religions did not mean that the country would practice religious equality, but learning about various religions would “foster unity and promote religious sensitivity for different cultures”.
In response, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said on Sunday that he has rejected the proposal by MBM for the special subject to be introduced alongside Islamic Studies.
Maszlee said this is in line with the ministry’s previous recommendations for schools and universities to instead organise more cross-cultural programmes, as it was more appropriate than learning other religions since it could bring about more detrimental effects rather than positive ones.
Mohamad Nordin added today that Jakim’s stand mirrors that of Maszlee’s.