There is no smoke without fire, and that is exactly what netizens are applying to the current JAKIM posting that seemingly came out of nowhere.
Today, at 6:19am, JAKIM uploaded an infographic onto their Twitter account that warns the public from making any derogatory statements towards the Sultans of Malaysia.
The quote written in the picture essentially translates to, “The Sultan (or the ruler) is a mirror image of God on Earth. To those who praise them, God will praise you. To those who insult them, God will insult you.”
The postings did not end there, for 3 hours later, JAKIM posted yet another infographic, reminding the public to respect the Sultans.
This time, the quote translates to, “The both of you must meet with the Pharaoh, for he has traversed the boundaries in his blasphemy. You must speak to him, in soft-spoken words, so he will be reminded and fearful.”
During recent times, the royals have been subjected to criticism after an article by Asia Sentinel was released, alleging that they had taken advantage of their of position of power in order to acquire vaccines far earlier than the nation they serve.
The report has since been rebutted by Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, who claimed that the report was baseless since such decisions must be approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.
Soon after that report emerged, the Queen became a popular topic of discussion due to the #DengkiKe Instagram debacle that led to a heated tug-of-war between political illustrator, Fahmi Reza and the police after he had created a series of satirical graphics that were seen as disrespectful towards the royal family.
Recently, a man by the name of Iswardy Morni was arrested for conducting a live video session, addressing the royals and implying that they had something to do with the lack of accountability during the handling of Covid-19. He was charged on May 29 and has pleaded not guilty to insulting the King.
Only today, the Pahang government has approved mining operations in the vicinity of Tasik Chini in Pekan to a royalty-linked company, despite its pledge to rehabilitate the country’s second-largest natural lake.
Due to what happened lately regarding the royals, JAKIM’s post was seen by many netizens as an effort to curb any incoming public criticism.
However, the quotes they included in their postings stoked the flames of netizens instead of putting them out.
JAKIM is no stranger to statements of this nature which have been disseminated by the department back in 2016 and 2018. So, it comes as no surprise that they would continue spreading these sentiments even today.
Despite that, the hadith (quotes/actions made by the prophet Muhammad) included in the post had questionable origins and authenticity since it had been deemed daif (weak in stance). This is because there are many other hadiths that contradict the ones posted by JAKIM.
To illustrate, Pejabat Mufti Wilayah Persekutuan’s website clarified the hadith by stating, “The hadith’s meaning shows that rulers have a special position of power compared to the rest of the nation that is placed under them. May God direct these Muslim rulers towards God’s good graces.”
Essentially, in Islam, equality amongst classes is regarded in a high esteem so amplifying a message that implies that rulers are not of the same standing as their nation, goes against the teachings of the religion.
In addition to that, one of the biggest sins in Islam is syirik, which is equating God to anything/anyone else. The statement which implies that royals are a mirroring of God leans dangerously close to committing syirik.
Netizens are even advising JAKIM to look closely into the statement in fear that their overzealousness might lead them to sin.
Another hadith was also shared by Dr. Ahmad Sanusi Azmi in his book 40 Hadis Tentang Politik dan Kepimpinan, titled ‘Pemimpin Jangan Menyusahkan Rakyat’ which translates to ‘Leaders Must Not Inconvenience The Nation’ states,
“God Almighty, to whomever who has been elected to manage responsibilities and have inconvenienced others, may You inconvenience them. To whomever who have managed their responsibilities in a benevolent way, may You show benevolence to them.”
To translate into simple terms, leaders must ease the burden of their nation since they carry a responsibility towards it. If they inflict hardships and struggles onto their nation, then they themselves must go through the same plights.
With that, netizens believe that JAKIM should not have posted the quotes since its authenticity and message can be regarded as questionable, especially on a platform such as Twitter, where the limited caption doesn’t allow for detailed explanations hence leading to misunderstandings and slander.
Whilst the discussion mainly revolves around JAKIM’s first posting, their second infographic should not be ignored, for it sparks an incendiary conversation as well.
Comparing the tumultuous situation now to the era of the cruel Pharaoh is far-fetched to say the least. However, JAKIM made the comparison in order to prevent the public from criticising the royal family. Laughably so, they are indirectly equating the current King to that of the malevolent Pharaoh.
If we’re basing arguments on religion, then one should be reminded that God sent down disasters and plagues after the Pharaoh refused to take advice from Moses, making him arrogant and criminally sinful.
The Pharaoh was also known to be a blasphemous dictator which was why Moses parted the Red Sea to prove God’s divine intervention.
In the midst of this messy rhetoric, some netizens wondered if Datuk Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, the Minister of Religious Affairs, had anything to do with the postings.
In a tweet, he quickly denied the allegations by saying, “I did not instruct them to do anything. It’s normal for JAKIM to post hadith onto their platform. Praise God, I am happy to see the masses beginning to accustom themselves to the hadith, including understanding its meanings and avoiding the act of cherry-picking.”
At the moment, netizens are expressing their disappointment in JAKIM and questioning the reason for the large sum of taxpayer funds invested into the organisation, especially since the federal government agency failed to detect the selling of kangaroo, horse and diseased meats as ‘halal beef’ late last year.
They have also been criticised for conducting an extensive manhunt on transgender celebrity entrepreneur, Nur Sajat with the help of Jabatan Agama Islam (JAIS), which included up to 122 officers when in reality, it was reported that they only needed 4.
JAKIM was also unaware of a polygamous marriage syndicate that involved elites and corporate figures. It was only after members of Persatuan Pengguna Melayu Malaysia (PPMM) discovered the syndicate that JAKIM began their investigation into the matter.
So, despite all the hullabaloo online, the initial questions still remain: Why did JAKIM post these quotes? Who told them to do it, if anyone, and why now?
It’s either they did not anticipate the inundating backlash or they did, and this is all a perfectly-planned trap.
Who’s to say?
The only thing we can legally say about this situation is…
The Sedition Act in Malaysia carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison and/or RM5,000 fine for first offenders, banning all forms of speech, publications and acts that criticise the royals and the government.