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Malaysia On Fridays, Political Sermons Force Pak Samad To Masjid India


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
On Fridays, political sermons force Pak Samad to Masjid India



Islam's holiest day Friday is where Muslims perform a weekly communal prayer and listen to sermons to guide their life. But for the past two weeks, national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said has been attending the Friday prayers at Masjid India in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur where the sermon is preached in Tamil.

He does not understand Tamil but that does not bother him one bit. In fact, he is relieved.

Relieved because he prefers not to understand what the message is as the sermons have turned too political for his liking.

Fondly known as Pak Samad, the octogenarian revealed that he used to go to the National Mosque on Fridays, but stopped doing so two weeks ago because the "preacher was reading the sermon and not preaching".

He became disillusioned as politics and Barisan Nasional propaganda are being preached in mosques these days through sermons prepared by the federal Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

"I moved to the Masjid India mosque on purpose, I do not understand Tamil, so I feel more relieved," he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Samad used to fulfil his Friday religious obligation at the As-Syakirin mosque in Kuala Lumpur City Centre where they called on the people not to demonstrate, but right after prayers, the congregation demonstrated.

That made him feel uncomfortable, so he moved to the National Mosque. But he found no relief there as the sermon was on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will be effective April 1, 2015.

Now, Samad seeks solace in Masjid India.

"The purpose of a sermon is to deliver positive messages and not to be used as a campaigning tool," said the man with the white flowing beard.

Samad said the sermons should be used instead to make Putrajaya realise its wrongdoings that have caused losses to the country.

"For instance, they should be talking about the sudden increase in the number of guns in the country. There is also a high influx of foreigners into Malaysia.

"Then the message that can be delivered is for our immigration laws to be tightened. Sermons need not be used to lay blame, but to rectify situations," Samad suggested.

After Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the GST in Budget 2014, Jakim had in its sermon promoted the new consumption tax, stressing that it will not burden the people and Muslims should support it.

The sermon reminded Muslims that the task of strengthening the economy of the community was entrusted by Allah and would be taken into account in the afterlife.

It had also said the GST would enable the tax system to be administered more efficiently, effectively and fairly to avoid taxpayers from paying "hidden" and overlapping taxes while overcoming leakages and misappropriations.

Muslims were urged to give Putrajaya their cooperation.

In the sermon titled "Strengthening the community's economy", the faithful were also told that Budget 2014 would be implemented based on the Islamic spirit and the "al-adl wal ihsan" (justice and goodness) principle.

And in its Friday sermon just before the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment on the Allah issue, Jakim called on Muslims to do their best to ensure the religion is protected from any attempt to insult or misuse the word.

The message from Jakim was also that any attempt to use the word Allah anywhere else other than the al-Quran will cause conflict in their faith, and added that they rejected the ideology of the Trinity (God, the Son and the Holy Spirit).

Some, like Samad, are uncomfortable with the tone of the weekly sermons. Hence, the need to go where the sermons are not understood.

Samad himself was recently in the news when he was detained by police and investigated under the Sedition Act for allegedly flying the Sang Saka Malaya flag on the eve of Merdeka celebrations at Dataran Merdeka.

He was picked up from his house in Bangsar just after midnight and taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.

Samad, the current co-chairman of polls reform group Bersih, was said to have been questioned for more than an hour before he was released.

To date, no charges have been brought against him. – November 15, 2013.