The Selangor Islamic authorities' action to disrupt a Hindu wedding on suspicion that the bride was a Muslim is akin to "Talibanisation", says well-known scholar and former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.
Asri rebuked the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) for raiding a Hindu temple in Petaling Jaya where the wedding was conducted, warning that the Islamic authority that it had, by its action, tarnished the image of Islam.
"Jais should be careful in what they do because their actions have given the wrong image not only to Malaysians, but to the world.
"Day by day, the global community is seeing much of the world leaning towards 'Talibanisation' because of such actions," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Asri said Jais was naive in its handling of the incident, which would have given rise to all kinds of misunderstandings among Malaysians.
"There are already so many issues which have given a negative image and caused misunderstandings not only among non-Muslims, but with Muslims as well.”
He added that Jais's actions were a direct contradiction of the Wasatiyah campaign promoted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Officers from Jais on Sunday reportedly interrupted the wedding at a Hindu temple after receiving reports that the bride, 32-year-old Zarinah Abdul Majid, could be a Muslim.
Checks on Zarinah's MyKad showed that she was Muslim, and Jais officers took her away for questioning.
The department acted under Selangor’s Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, which outlines offences deemed as acts of proselytisation by non-Muslims towards Muslims, and grants Jais the power to launch investigations and arrest individuals without a warrant.
However, the bride said her father, who had abandoned the family, had registered her as a Muslim but she grew up as a Hindu.
Asri also criticised Jais for its lack of professionalism in handling the issue, and questioned the need to conduct the raid while the wedding ceremony was going on.
"Religion is not forced, this is the modern era. Jais should have conducted their investigations earlier and interviewed the bride beforehand.
"Why couldn't Jais call the bride and question her prior to the wedding ceremony?"
He said Jais could have resolved the issue earlier when they received the tip-off, and there was no need to wait until the wedding day to conduct the raid.
Asri called for a careful review of cases where parents had converted to Islam, saying times have changed.
"In the old days, when a person renounced Islam, there were elements of treachery.
"Obviously, the penalties are heavy, not only for Islam but even for Christianity.
"We must discuss these issues pertaining to the reality and environment which we are living in now," he said.
Lawyer Syahredzan Johan said the issue had arisen because of unilateral conversion, which had yet to be addressed by Putrajaya.
"The issue here is when a single parent, either the mother or father, has the right to decide their children's religion.
"Further study and research must be carried out on this issue to avoid future incidents of a similar nature."
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad joined the chorus of criticism against Jais over its actions, and told the state religious body yesterday to refer to the Quran.
"Such incidents have happened because they have not adhered to the teachings of the Quran," said Dr Mahathir. – June 5, 2014.