Islamic Tolerance Alert from “moderate” Malaysia. “Malaysia group urges Muslims to stop joint celebrations,” from AP, with thanks to Mathew:
An influential group of Islamic clerics has urged Malaysian Muslims not to join religious festivities of other faiths, infuriating moderate Muslims who called it a perversion of the country’s multiculturalism.
The Ulama Conference during its annual gathering of top ulamas, or clerics, on Tuesday issued 22 resolutions including one saying that the practice of joint celebration of religious holidays must stop because it resulted in Muslims celebrating other faiths….
The clerics’ view is a reflection of the growing Islamization of Malaysia, which prides itself on its image as a moderate and progressive Islamic nation where the majority Malay Muslims live in harmony with minority Chinese and Indians.
The Ulama Conference was pointing to a typically Malaysian celebration called Kongsi Raya, which refers to joint celebration of the Chinese New Year and the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
“Kongsi Raya” is a play on the greetings used by the two communities during the two holidays: “Gong Xi Fatt Cai” and “Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.” Kongsi in Malay also means “share.”
Since 1996, the two holidays have occurred within days of each other, providing Malays and Chinese an occasion to hold joint celebrations.
Harussani Zakaria, the working committee chairman of the Ulama Conference 2006, told The Associated Press that religious celebrations were not the place to foster unity.
The National Day — when Malaysians commemorate independence from British rule– was a more suitable time to promote integration and harmony, he said.
“You can invite Muslims to your house for dinner during Christmas or Chinese New Year without them having to celebrate the festival itself,” Harussani added. “But nationalizing it, having Muslims celebrate it, that is wrong.”
The Ulama Conference advises the Muslim kings of nine Malaysian states, who are titular heads, on religious matters. The conference has the authority to recommend to the kings edicts or “fatwa,” which believers are bound by.
Harussani refused to say if the conference will pass a fatwa on joint celebrations, saying Islam already forbids it.