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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday
): Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd is not sincere in its apology as it apologised only for any confusion that has arisen from the misinterpretation of its recent e-mail to its staff by the insurance company’s management, prohibiting Muslim employees from extending Deepavali greetings to Hindus and not for the contents of its email. The e-mail was sent on Oct 3 by Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa of Takaful Malaysia’s syariah department as he said such greetings are unIslamic and was like syirik (practising polytheism) to Muslims
In his email to his employees he said, “So Muslims who have inadvertently wished Hindus a Happy Deepavali, Happy Durga Pooja or Happy Lakshmi Pooja must immediately repent and not repeat it in the future”.
Calling on Muslims to repent is equivalent to branding Muslims greeting Hindu friends Happy Deepavali as a sin against God. This branding is insulting to Hindus as Deepavali is a holy celebration by Hindus. And also insulting to the status of Islam as a holy religion that respects other religious beliefs and practices where it has never labelled greeting Hindus Happy Deepavali as sinful.
How can a spokesman for Takaful Malaysia refuse to disassociate Takaful’s responsibility from this email by continuing to claim that Mohd Fauzi’s e-mail was meant for “internal circulation and as an advice or an opinion for our staff only.”? By refusing to repudiate ask him to apologise or withdraw, Takaful shows that it sympathises with the contemptible views expressed in his email.
The issue is now no longer Mohd Fauzi because he is only one person who has lost in way in extremist tendencies. The bigger issue is whether the top management in Takaful shares such views. Takaful should not forget that not only as it non-Muslim staff, it also has many non-Muslim customers. If being courteous to non-Muslims is considered anti-Islamic then Takaful might as well not do any business with non-Muslims and restrict itself to the Muslim market.
It is sad that there are extremist Muslims even amongst a well educated man like Mohd Fauzi who can not distinguish between a mere greeting with a person beliefs. Even Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria has said Muslims are permitted to extend greetings to those of other faiths in conjunction with their respective festivities so long as they do not join in their celebrations.
In this festive season, DAP urges compassion and forgiveness for those who are sincere in mending their ways. If Mohd Fauzi is willing to apologise and withdraw his extremist and hurtful remarks against Hindus, then he should be forgiven. But should he fail to do so, then action must be taken against him and Takaful to prove that Islam hadhari of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is not an extreme version of Islam that prevents even a Happy Deepavali greeting.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP