PETALING JAYA – Perlis Mufti Asri Zainul Abidin’s caustic poem about those who “idolised cows” has not gone down well with Malaysian social media users.
However the poem, posted on the mufti’s Facebook page this morning, was “liked” by almost 5,000 Facebook users, shared over 650 times, and commented on by more than 320 people at the time of this article’s publication.
While some expressed support for Asri’s poem, which they believed was directed at Hindus opposed to the presence of Mumbai-based preacher Dr Zakir Naik in Malaysia, others condemned it for being racist.
“Even the mufti is emotional in this ZN (Zakir Naik) issue. (But) as a mufti, (you) have to calm the situation down and not pour oil on the fire,” said Mukhlis Eddie.
“Don’t just because of him (Naik) alone, all Malaysians end up fighting with one another. (And) don’t forget that the continent has the largest Muslim population, larger than Indonesia.”
He was referring to a part of Asri’s “Friday morning poem”, which spoke about a continent that “teaches people to make castes, to the unfortunate point of being called pariahs”.
Another Facebook user, Tharmeni Narendran, called for Asri to learn about Hinduism first before making statements about the religion. She also said it was unfair of him to condemn Hinduism or any other religion being practised in Malaysia.
Naim Fahmi, on the other hand, suggested Asri was likely fuelled by anger when he wrote the poem but advised that it was better to think before speaking or writing.
JT Tan didn’t hold back his words when he stated outright that Asri’s “terrible” poem showed the mufti as being “no better than the racists and bigots in this country”.
Muhammad Akmal also questioned the words used by Asri, saying, “Are these the words of a religious member? Not every Hindu in Malaysia is against Zakir Naik.”
This was echoed by Nages Ravoo who said that in the Muslims’ holy book, the Al-Quran, it was stated that the disciples of Islam should not insult the religions of others.
Asri’s poem, which criticised “cow worshippers” for trying to have “our preacher” handed over to a tyrannical government, did not mention any names.
However the mufti has in the past criticised Hindu rights group Hindraf over its opposition to Naik, who is under investigation by the Indian authorities for money laundering and for promoting hatred.
Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy and other activists have initiated a legal suit against the government for allowing Naik to stay in the country, saying he was a threat to national security.
Naik’s speeches have often touched on Christianity and Hinduism, and have been criticised for stoking hatred among different communities.
It was recently revealed that Naik was given permanent residence by the Malaysian government five years ago.