Malaysia – After one of his party colleagues criticized Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh for wearing a hijab, a DAP leader today warned that Malaysians either accept the country’s variety and moderation or face irrelevance.
Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali, vice-chief of the Johor DAP, said such characteristics were critical given Malaysia‘s multiculturalism.
“We must not only respect others’ cultures, religions, and points of view, but also recognize that times have changed.
“We must keep up with such advancements or risk being left behind,” Sheikh Umar remarked in response to fellow Johor DAP member Dr Boo Cheng Hau’s criticism against Yeoh over the weekend for wearing a hijab headscarf to a mosque.
Sheikh Umar, who is also the Johor DAP Youth head and Paloh assemblyman, said Yeoh’s choice to wear the hijab while attending a mosque was acceptable.
He said that Islam does not forbid non-Muslims from attending mosques, as Syafi’e, Hambali, and Hanafi schools of thought believe.
“However, certain conditions must be met, including obtaining permission from the mosque’s management, dressing decently, including adhering to the mosque’s dress code, maintaining cleanliness, and abstaining from prohibited activities that jeopardize the mosque’s sanctity as a place of worship for Muslims,” he said.
Sheikh Umar, a graduate of Islamic studies with a concentration in Usuluddin, stated that visiting individuals to help them was also welcomed and advocated for in Islam, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin.
He mentioned a hadith (a compilation of tales comprising the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings) in which the Prophet Muhammad stood in reverence as a Jewish burial procession passed in front of him.
Sheikh Umar said that Boo should not have criticized Yeoh of wearing a hijab in order to garner Malay support, given that the group was also a constituent of hers.
According to him, The Segambut parliamentary seat (under Yeoh) has a majority of non-Malay voters, with Malays being roughly 28% and Chinese constituting 59%.
He also added that if Yeoh really wants to win the support of Malay Muslim voters in Segambut, this is commendable since it demonstrates her concern for minority communities in her district.
Sheikh Umar said that he first refused to take part in the debate.
“While it is good in terms of free expression, this cultural political debate between Dr Boo and Yeoh should not get so severe as to irritate many others,” he remarked.