"Syria is not a final battle": Malaysian mufti

A religious leader calls on Islam's followers to reconsider the concept of jihad.

By Alisha Nurhayati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur

July 29, 2014
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On the subject of increasing numbers of his countrymen waging jihad in Syria and Iraq, one prominent Malaysian cleric voicing concern is clear: all Muslims should avoid killing.

  •  Syrians carry a body after a bombing in Aleppo on July 10th. Malaysian leaders warn Muslim youth against falling for jihad recruiters spreading false messages. [Aleppo Media Centre/Khaled Khatib/AFP]

    Syrians carry a body after a bombing in Aleppo on July 10th. Malaysian leaders warn Muslim youth against falling for jihad recruiters spreading false messages. [Aleppo Media Centre/Khaled Khatib/AFP]

"This is a time for Muslims to rethink their decision before they depart for Syria," Kelantan Mufti Mohamad Shukri told Khabar Southeast Asia. "The conflict in Syria occurred among Muslims . It is not fair to call the movement a jihad.

"It is wrong to use Syria as a final battle. Syria is not a final battle. As good Muslims, we should help women and children and not add more suffering by supporting the war in the region," he added.

Malaysian intelligence officials estimate at least 30 Malaysians are currently fighting in the Middle East.

"It is a growing concern, not only for Malaysia but also other countries," Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi told reporters last month. "We are still continuing our investigation on the number of Malaysians killed in Syria , but also tightening security in our country as well.

Malaysian authorities arrested "a number of militants" before they could go to the Middle East, noting many of these suspects signed up for the militant cause through social media, he said.

Wan added Malaysian youths should be wary of calls for jihad via social media. "If you see any dangerous call posting through social media-- including YouTube-- please do call your closest authorities," he said.

Manipulated to fight

The case of Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, who went to the Middle East for jihad, made headlines back home in Malaysia.

The alleged member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Ahmad, 26, died May 26th while carrying out a suicide car bombing in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq, according to The Star newspaper.

A factory worker in Pahang, Tarmimi became radicalised after communicating with militants through social media.

Another alleged jihadist youth Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi, 21, was recruited by his cleric Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, who regularly posted videos from Syria calling for jihad.

Malaysian youth can be lured into taking up arms for jihad because of charismatic leaders and issues in their own lives, said Elina Noor, a terrorism expert at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur resident Januar Jaffar takes measures to ensure his two teenagers won't join a faulty jihad, in part by staying in close communication with their teachers and by watching out for possible manipulation at the mosque.

"Our government has been monitoring this closely. Hopefully, in the near future this effort can give us good results," Januar said. "Other than that, it is also our responsibility as Malaysian citizens. We should look after each other."

Reader Comments
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    • amy
      August 19, 2014 @ 08:08:58AM
    • If there were no followers who fight to defend the welfare of their fellows, do you expect the infidels to defend the welfare of the faithful today, even if you must bow to the cruelty of the Jews?
    • hamba
      August 10, 2014 @ 05:08:49AM
    • The replies to reader comments don't sound like Muslims, going against the flow to restrict Muslims from carrying out jihad. They sound like the words of Christians.
    • William Boeder
      July 28, 2014 @ 09:07:28PM
    • What drives the killing of Muslims by other Muslims? The casualties are inevitably women and their much loved children, family elders, why? The Western countries though they may not be perfect, they do not declare holy war on their fellow countrymen, this World-wide slaughter of the innocent is a poison to the mind spread by your religious leaders. Why not send them to the battlefields?
    • hana
      August 7, 2014 @ 02:08:08AM
    • Islam forbids cruelty and wickedness towards creatures, whether they are humans, animals, and plants. Religion has prevented it but humans are shallow, driven by lust motivated by the will of the Devil.

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent Muslims.

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