Ahmadis, Hizbut Tahrir slam Sabah for choosing ban over dialogue

By Zurairi AR
File picture shows members of Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia staging a rally against US President Barack Obama’s visit to Malaysia outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, November 13, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Banned by Sabah, several Muslim groups questioned the state government’s drastic measure as a first resort when they were not a terror threat.

Representatives of Malaysia’s Islamic minority Ahmadiyyah and pro-caliphate group Hizbut Tahrir (HTM) asserted that they were peaceful groups that have also contributed to the charity and welfare of the local community, especially in Sabah.

“The question is, has the state government held any open dialogue with the Jemaat Ahmadiyah before they banned us? Never,” Ainul Yakin M Zin, a spokesman for the Malaysian Ahmadiyyah community, told Malay Mail Online.

“The next question they have to answer: has Jemaat Ahmadiyah threatened the security of the country and Sabah, until Sabah has to ban our existence there? Banning us is not the solution, but would only confuse our peace-loving society.”

Similarly, HTM said neither the state government nor the state fatwa committee had ever attempted to inquire about its ideology and teachings.

“So on what basis was Hizbut Tahrir declared astray and has deviated from the Sunni faith?” HTM spokesman Abdul Hakim Othman told Malay Mail Online in a statement.

On Tuesday, Sabah state fatwa council reportedly banned 16 “deviant teachings”, including hardliners Hizbut Tahrir and Muslim minorities Shiites and Ahmadis as well as concepts like “liberalism” and “pluralism” in a sweeping move.

Ainul said through its Sabah and Labuan charity arm Pekesan, the Ahmadis have organised blood donation drives, beach cleanups, and donated to fire victims in Kota Marudu and quake victims in Ranau and Kundasang. He said they have also received awards recognising their efforts as among the most active Sabah charities in organising humanitarian campaigns.

“We as Malaysian Muslim Ahmadis feel responsible in bringing peace through our ‘love for all, hatred for none’ approach, not by violence, riots, attacks and hatred,” Ainul said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Hakim said HTM has long established itself in Sabah and received warm welcome from the locals, whom he claimed had praised it for their Islamic missionary activities.

“HTM has succeeded in attracting many youths who before this were unaware of Islam, wild, with no direction in life, freely mingling, thugs and so on to become Islamic warriors who are close to the Quran and mosques, pleasant with friends and neighbours, and liked by the society,” he said.

Both groups also pointed out that Islam’s Prophet Muhammad himself had cautioned Muslims against declaring others who shared the same faith infidels, and to choose dialogues, discussions and debates when it comes to conflicts in opinions.

The Ahmadis, who are derogatorily called Qadianis here, adhere to the same beliefs as the Sunni branch of Islam, but also believe that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Imam Mahdi, Islam’s prophesied redeemer.

HTM aims to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia and a worldwide caliphate as part of its global network, and has similarly been declared “deviant” by the Selangor fatwa committee for its political ideology.

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

A recent study by the Pew Research Centre showed Malaysia continues to strictly control religious practices, with an annual study grouping it together with other Muslim-majority countries practising “very high” restrictions, such as Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Turkey.