By G Manimaran
Bahasa Malaysia Editor
KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — Wahhabism and Shia Islam are key threats to Malaysia’s security and should be kept under close watch to ensure they do not lead to extremism, a Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) official has said.
The National Security Council (NSC) put a group of clerics on its terror watch-list last week for preaching Wahhabism, a puritanical strain of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia. Several Shia Muslims have also been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for their beliefs.
“The biggest threat to the country at the moment is Wahhabism and Shia (Islam) ... extreme teachings,” Islamic Training Institute of Malaysia’s assistant director Zamihan Mat Zin told The Malaysian Insider before last week’s NSC meeting.
He said if the group was not watched, their teachings could potentially to threaten the ethics of Islamic affairs management in Malaysia.
“(The government) needs to curtail them to harmonise Sunni teachings in Malaysia.”
Zamihan stressed that, if left alone, Wahhabism and Shia Islam could “sow the seeds of extremism as seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia and Chechnya”.
He said certain parties were now actively promoting both teachings with financial assistance from foreign missions here.
“There are preachers who receive huge allowances every month... They will deny it if anyone asks them but we have proof,” said the cleric who is in the Quran and core knowledge division in the institute.
Zamihan added that, according to his research, Wahhabism and Shia Islam have about one million followers each in Malaysia.
He previously claimed that Wahhabism receives protection from politicians and has made inroads into religious agencies at national and state levels.
Zamihan also told The Malaysian Insider that the question of stopping the spread of Wahhabism should not be seen as a diplomatic issue but one of national security and mutual interest.
“For instance, if an Iraqi come to Malaysia and is caught trying to bring in drugs... will this jeopardise bilateral and diplomatic relations? I think not, and it’s the same for religious teachings,” he said.
“Don’t bring in teachings that can threaten national security.”
Putrajaya said yesterday that Wahhabism is not a national security threat, only a week after the National Security Council (NSC) put several influential Islamic scholars on a terror watch list for alleged links to the ideology.
Former Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim revealed that Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom had announced Putrajaya’s findings during a top-level government meeting recently, stating that there was “no such thing” as
Wahhabism’s links to terrorism in the country.
A source told The Malaysian Insider that the NSC has decided that while the practice of Wahhabism does exist in the country, it does not pose any immediate security threat.
The source also admitted that Malaysia’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been affected following the threat of Wahhabism being linked to the Arab country.
It is understood that the matter was also raised during Friday’s Umno supreme council meeting.