Perlis Mufti Suggests Renaming Local Bon Fest To Deter Conflict & Distinguish It From Muslim Faith

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source: Malay Mail

Earlier today, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin published a Facebook post expressing his belief that tweaking the name of the Bon Odori festival, on a local scale, could help curb confusion and conflict over the religious nature behind the celebration.

In his post, he clarified that its true origins, as a traditional Japanese form of commemoration towards ancestors, could encourage syirik (polytheism) and khurafat (superstition) among local Muslims.

source: Facebook

“The event can simply be rechristened, or given an additional name to explain its background. For example, it could be explicitly branded as a Japanese cultural festival.

“This step will allow the event to proceed while also diminishing critique and worry, ” he explained.

In the same post, Asri also urged the festival’s organising committee to guarantee that there will be no religious aspects present at the official event.

Idris Ahmad. (source: Astro Awani)

Over the past week, the festival has gained massive attention and criticism nationwide.

On Tuesday (June 7), Religious Affairs Minister Idris Ahmad warned Muslims against partaking in the annual festival, claiming that they may be introduced to or influenced by external religious beliefs.

His statement was followed by an opposition from Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor, who shared a similar perspective, adding that Muslims were responsible for maintaining the purity of Islamic faith.

However, the festival, set to take place in Shah Alam next month, was promptly defended by the Selangor state government, netizens and the Sultan of Selangor Himself.

source: Malay Mail

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah noted that He did not recognise any extreme religious aspect to the festival that could harm Muslim faith. His Highness has also attended the event in the past.

The Sultan also prompted Idris to witness the fest for himself to help draw a distinction between culture and religion.

source: Facebook

The Bon Odori celebration has been an annual affair throughout the country over the past three decades, earning minimal mainstream attention until recently.

The last Bon event took place in 2019, as organisers were forced to take a short hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s celebration will mark the 40th anniversary of Malaysia’s Look East policy, an initiative established by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad with the intention of strengthening ties between Malaysia and Eastern nations.

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