KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — Three of Malaysia’s most senior Anglican clergymen want the authorities to act against award-winning Islamic scholar Ayub Abdul Rahman whom they allege has been speaking in public under the fraudulent guise of a former Christian cleric with their church.
Datuk Ng Moon Hing, the Anglican Church’s archbishop for Southeast Asia; Melter Tais, the bishop of the Sabah diocese and Datuk Bolly Lapok, bishop of the diocese of Kuching denounced those who have been repeatedly highlighting the preacher’s alleged past Christian association without due checks.
“Such actions are mischievous and harmful in a multi-religious society,” the trio said in a joint statement to Malay Mail Online last night.
The Christian clerics also said the misrepresentation of Ayub’s credentials in promotional posters suggest a “sinister” motive on the preacher’s part, those organising talks featuring the latter, or the media that sought to highlight the “false” credentials without verification.
“We call on the organisers immediately to correct the grave error to which they have contributed and the utterly false impression that has been given about the speaker.
“We also call on the relevant authorities to investigate this matter thoroughly in order to prevent the perpetration of such forms of fraud on unsuspecting members of the public,” they said.
They said the constitutional freedom of religion and speech had been abused in this incident and invited backlash against the preacher’s own faith “in whose name he seeks to speak”.
“We also seriously call into question the basis on which he was allegedly given the Maal Hijrah award for converts by the religious authorities in Sarawak in 2005,” they added.
Controversy first arose when Facebook users spotted an April 12 poster on the Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department’s (Jheains) page that described Ayub as a former 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.
Users suggested that his credentials were made up, and this was later confirmed by the Episcopal church in Wiesbaden, Germany, which told Malay Mail Online that Ayub had never served as a priest nor held any official functions there.
According to fresh promotional materials of the “Mahrajan Ilmu Al-Quran Sabah 2016” posted on Facebook yesterday afternoon, Ayub, who was initially slated to speak in at least two events, will no longer take the stage during the convention.
The promotional materials on the “Mahrajan Ilmu Al-Quran Sabah 2016” are believed to be supplied by Institut Pengajian al-Quran (IPaQ), a co-organiser of the event that kicked off yesterday.
The other co-organisers of the convention are the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council, Jheains, the Sabah Islamic Religious Council and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) Sabah branch.
IPaQ’s Facebook page describes itself as a non-governmental organisation and a foundation based at Petaling Jaya’s Masjid Tun Abdul Aziz, also stating that it conducts programmes covering the appreciation and application of knowledge from the al-Quran.
A senior official from the Sarawak Islamic Council has declined Malay Mail Online’s request yesterday for further information on Ayub and even general information on the Tokoh Maal Hijrah award, saying he had been “advised” not to disclose any detail to the media.
“I was advised by Special Branch. I can't divulge to you any information about the person you asked me,” the official said when contacted over the phone this morning.
Jakim has yet to respond to Malay Mail Online’s similar request.