The former minister in charge of Islamic affairs under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration struck a defiant chord when asked to respond to suggestions that he made no reforms to Jakim, the federal-controlled Department of Islamic Development.
Mujahid Yusof Rawa pointed to the “Rahmatan Lil Alamin” (Mercy for the Worlds) slogan he had promoted during his time as minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, saying the concept had been a major success when it was adopted as a national policy.
Mujahid, who is the vice-president of Amanah, said the concept received Cabinet approval on Oct 25, 2019, adding that it also received the consent of the Malay rulers.
When pressed if this meant a reform of Jakim, Mujahid said:
“The question has been answered. My actions speak louder than words.
“You missed the train,” he told MalaysiaNow.
Jakim came under scrutiny following the revelation of a little-known condition imposed on businesses looking to get halal certification.
This was after MalaysiaNow reported of a bakery which refused to write “Merry Christmas” on a cake ordered by a customer, citing Jakim’s rules.
Jakim later confirmed that greetings connected to religious festivals would not be allowed to be used as promotion or display at premises which are certified halal.
A former director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim), the government’s top Islamic think tank, had described the rule as illogical and ridiculous.
Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas also said Jakim had strayed far from its objective, and questioned the absence of reforms promised by the previous government when it was in power for 22 months.
“Where are the reforms that Malaysia was so looking forward to when the new government came in?” Syed Ali asked.
He also said the cake episode showed the state of ignorance among the Muslim masses, drawing comparison to medieval Europe.
“We are back to 10th-century Europe, where everybody was just waiting for the church to issue an edict on what we can and cannot do, what we can read and what we can say.”
In the run-up to the 2018 election, PH leaders had questioned the huge annual allocation for Jakim, with some even calling for the department to be dismantled as matters of Islam should be under the jurisdiction of the Malay rulers.
When asked for his response, Mujahid referred to a video clip released in late 2019, which he said summarised the reforms under him.
In the video, Mujahid claimed achievements by the PH government in matters of judiciary, Islamic propagation and media, haj management, halal certification, mosque management, education and human capital.
The video however did not mention any specific reforms to Jakim as claimed by Mujahid.