Takaful man sorry over email

KUALA LUMPUR: The man in the centre of a controversial email which offended Hindus has apologised.
Takaful Malaysia’s Syariah department head, Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa, said he "sincerely apologised to all parties if the contents of (his) email had offended their feelings".
He further stated that the contents were his personal opinion and did not reflect the views of the company.
The apology, in the form of a statement, was faxed about 4pm to the office of Sivanesan Achalingam, a lawyer representing several non-governmental organisations that had lodged police reports. (Extracted from New Straits Times Online of October 18, 2006)

It’s no sin to say Happy Deepavali

By Hamidah Atan
(From New Straits Times Online of October 18, 2006)

PUTRAJAYA: It is neither sinful nor wrong for Muslims to wish their Hindu or Christian friends "Happy Deepavali" or "Merry Christmas". Perak mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said it was not blasphemous to extend wishes to someone celebrating a festival.
"There is nothing wrong if we (Muslims) wish our non-Muslim friends, Happy Deepavali, Merry Christmas or Happy Chinese New Year.
"As long as we do not ‘greet’ their gods, there should not be any problem as it is not against the teachings of Islam.
"As Malaysians, we must be respectful of each other’s religions or festivals.
"If they wish us Happy Hari Raya, that is also not wrong.
"This will further enhance unity and relations among the multi-ethnic races in this country."
Harussani, who is also a National Fatwa Council committee member, was asked to comment on an email sent to staff of Takaful Malaysia Berhad which advised them against wishing "Happy Deepavali" to Hindus.
The Oct 3 email was apparently sent out by the company’s Syariah department head, Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa.
In the email, Fauzi had apparently said that wishing "Happy Durga Pooja, Happy Lakshmi Pooja and Happy Deepavali" could be deemed as extending greetings to the Hindu gods Durga, Lakshmi and Krishna.
He claimed that this was blasphemous and was against Islamic teachings.
Fauzi had apparently also said that those who had uttered such greetings to Hindus should repent immediately and not repeat them.
The email, which had been widely circulated, did not go down well with the Malaysia Hindu Sangam which lodged a police report on Friday.
Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said such views were seditious and Malaysian Hindus were "greatly disturbed" and "disappointed".
Takaful, in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, had said that the email was only for internal circulation.
"The contents and views expressed are not Takaful Malaysia’s official stand and definitely not an edict or final reference for use by unrelated parties."
Selangor mufti Datuk Mohd Tamyis Abdul Majid shared similar views as his Perak colleague.
"The views of all mufti are the same," said Tamyis, who is also a council member.
He said Muslims were in fact encouraged to greet their non-Muslim friends who were celebrating the festivals as this could enhance friendship and co-operation among the different races in Malaysia.
However, both mufti said it was wrong and sinful for Muslims to greet the gods of their non-Muslim friends as such acts were deemed to be blasphemous and against the teachings of Islam.
In Kuala Lumpur, Bernama reported that MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was disturbed and disappointed over the circular.
"Malaysia’s greatest advantage is the unity of the people and the stability it enjoys in a multi-racial and multi-religious society," the Works Minister said on his return from London where he had attended the 13th Intelligent Transportation System World Congress.
He said Malaysians had long understood and respected each other’s religions and cultural practices, and this had strengthened national unity.
"But the remarks by some people may disrupt national unity."
Samy Vellu said Malaysians must be cautious of attempts by certain groups to thwart the unity of the people.
"We cannot ignore extremists elements who try to propagate their own thoughts to disrupt the peace in the country," Samy Vellu added.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"