A religious leader has questioned the need for a regular quota for so-called VIPs at mosques, saying any move towards this would be unreasonable and might restrict others from performing their prayers as well.
Negeri Sembilan mufti Mohd Yusof Ahmad said setting aside space for particular individuals was not wrong from a religious viewpoint but should not be made a norm at mosques.
“What if a mosque sets a quota for 10 VIPs and all 10 are no-shows? All worshippers should be given an equal opportunity,” he told MalaysiaNow.
“Mosque committees should have no such rules.”
Recently, a video clip went viral on social media showing a person believed to be a VIP entering Masjid Putra without queueing despite several other worshippers already waiting in line.
It sparked a strong backlash with many accusing the mosque authorities of giving “double-standard” treatment.
The mosque management later apologised and issued a statement explaining the situation.
However, the mosque’s chief imam Ikmal Zaidi Hashim also gave a separate explanation in a Facebook Live video, setting off another round of mixed reactions by saying there was a 10% quota amounting to space for 30 people for VIPs at the mosque.
Yusof said it was possible to provide a special area for certain individuals if the mosque management receives such a request.
“In Negeri Sembilan, mosques do not set special quotas for VIPs but there are times when the Yang di-Pertuan Besar goes to perform his prayers at Masjid Negeri in Seremban,” he said.
“Normally, he will be escorted by the menteri besar and his officials, so the mosque management will be informed and will prepare space according to the attendance list given.”
He added however that such a space would only be prepared upon request.
“If this VIP does not come in the end, that space will be given to other worshippers.”
He also advised worshippers to come early so that they will have a chance to perform their prayers at the mosque.
“If you miss your chance because the mosque is already full, that is not the management’s fault,” he said.
“There needs to be a quota in this regard, in line with the SOPs, to ensure the safety of everyone, seeing as the country is still facing the threat of Covid-19.”