PREACHER Haslin Baharim wants to seek an audience with Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar following a royal decree today banning him from preaching Islam in Johor.
Popularly known as “Ustaz Bollywood” for his use of Bollywood songs in his talks, Haslin said he wanted to explain himself in case the Johor ruler had been given the wrong advice, leading to the ban on him preaching in the southern state.
He said he hoped to gain an audience with Sultan Ibrahim and also meet Johor Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abd Mutalip Abd Rahim to defend himself.
“I am confident that the sultan of Johor is very open with his people, and very wise.
“I don’t think I (have done anything) wrong, but maybe, there was a lack of information about me and my case. Anyhow, I am sure of His Majesty’s wisdom ,” the former imam of Masjid Sultan Ibrahim in Kuala Selangor told The Malaysian Insight.
Haslin has a wide following on YouTube and social media due to his creative approach, which earned him the nickname.
Videos of his talks often get hundreds of thousands of views, and he has been invited to appear on radio and television programmes.
Haslin and Zimbabwean Mufti Ismail Menk were earlier banned from entering Singapore and from preaching abroad Islamic-themed cruise ships.
Singapore’s Home Affairs Ministry reportedly said Menk “has been known to preach segregationist and divisive teachings”, while Haslin “has expressed views that promote disharmony between Muslims and non-Muslims”.
Today, following Singapore’s move, Sultan Ibrahim decreed that the duo were not allowed to preach Islam in Johor, as the contents of their talks could cause unease in a multicultural society.
However, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had no issue with the duo.
Haslin, a graduate of Abu Bakar Islamic University in Karachi, Pakistan, denied the allegations, and expressed regret at being accused of dividing the people through his religious talks.
He said religious authorities should provide proof that his talks had caused a split in society, adding that if the claims were true, he would have been restricted from preaching much earlier.
“I am an independent preacher. I go where I am invited to give talks.
“I am not aligned with political parties or civil society organisations. I don’t belong to any party. When I speak, I rarely touch on politics.
“When I take questions, I give answers based on what Islamic law says. Like issues concerning insults against Islam and the Prophet. As a preacher, I have to defend the religion, and that can’t be taken as causing a divide among the people. ”
He said he had not been to Johor in the last two years to preach because of health issues.
“But, I am sure that the people in Johor, like in Mersing, who are familiar with my talks will support me as I have not done anything wrong.
“That is why I ask the religious officer to keep an open mind and see me. I also truly hope to have an audience with the sultan.”