Islamic Preacher Firdaus Wong Claims Muslims In Japan Refrain From Partaking In Bon Celebrations
On Saturday (June 11), Islamic preacher Firdaus Wong published a Facebook post which outlined his conversation with a friend, Salman Kyoichiro Sugimoto, a Muslim currently residing in Japan.
According to the post, Firdaus simply asked Kyoichiro via WhatsApp whether he, as a Muslim revert, would be celebrating Bon Odori.
“Of course not celebrating,” his Japanese counterpart promptly responded.
Firdaus went on to explain that the duo had met while attending the International Dawah Training Program (IDTP) run by Dr. Zakir Naik in Mumbai, India, back in 2016.
“As a convert and a preacher, he strictly advises fellow Muslims not to celebrate Bon Odori.
“In Sha Allah, we may meet in Japan soon,” he added.
Following that, Firdaus posted yet another text conversation today between himself and a Japan-bound Muslim friend named Zulkarnain.
This thread of messages revealed that Zulkarnain had attended Bon celebrations during his early years in Japan as he did not know that it was a religious commemoration.
He added that many Muslims were unaware of the event’s true nature in Japan and that it had begun to garner controversy there as well.
Earlier this year, 62 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) reportedly considered Firdaus as one of the many Islamic preachers who allegedly made seditious remarks to the King and the Malay rulers as well as expressing discriminatory statements about other faiths.
Firdaus’s measure to criticise and discourage Muslims from attending Bon celebrations opposes the Sultan of Selangor’s prior decree to allow the festival to commence, as His Highness believes that culture and religion are separate matters.
The Sultan had even urged Religious Affairs minister Idris Ahmad to attend the festival, which is set to take place in Shah Alam next month, in response to his warning that Muslims should avoid the Bon festival as partaking may allow them to be swayed by elements of other religious beliefs.
The Selangor state government also noted that the festival had been celebrated over the past three decades with no such issues.
However, the event continues to receive flak, with Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin suggesting that the festival be renamed to set it apart from Muslim culture.
Islamist party PAS also expressed adamant disapproval towards the celebration on Saturday, claiming that the Japanese ritual festival incorporates Buddhist traditions and beliefs that could disrupt one’s akidah (faith).
“Although some are under the impression that the festival is only to do with Japanese culture, we believe it does not counter concerns that it is not conflicting to Islamic faith.
“The reasoning that this is simply a Japanese cultural event does not carry enough merit to be considered,” explained PAS Ulama chief Datuk Ahmad Yahya in a statement.