Islam has often been abused by political parties for personal gain, according to an academic at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Mohamad Faisol Keling, an associate professor in the university’s College of Law, Government and International Studies, was responding to PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s closing remarks at the party’s inaugural annual general meeting on Saturday.

Mahathir had questioned the country’s muftis over their silence on several critical issues in the past, including the violent Memali clash of 1985 which saw 18 people killed in Baling, Kedah.

The former prime minister who was in power at the time of the incident said if the muftis had stood up and intervened, the deadly tragedy could have been prevented.

“The muftis in question had indeed failed to act against the issuance of an extremist fatwa during the 1980s. Hence, the Memali incident resulted in bloodshed in 1985.

“It was clearly against Islamic teachings and had resulted in loss of lives and division among the Muslims,” Faisol said, recalling the incident.

Mahathir also asked what right did PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang have to accuse those who did not join PAS as being infidels (kafir).

“Why didn’t the muftis, who are advisers to the rulers, not correct their (PAS’) remarks about those who did not join PAS being kafir?

“In this context, I see that the views by certain politicians who accuse each other of being infidels or extremists is against the teachings of Islam,” Faisol told FMT.

Faisol also cited verses from the Quran which stressed on the importance of unity, respect and forbids extremists acts through wrongful ways.

“So accusing each other of being a kafir is clearly prohibited by the religion and God,” he said, adding that the efforts of muftis and ulamas calling for unity and the prevention of division on this issue of calling other Muslims infidels, seems to be ineffective.

Faisol said this is proof that religion has been misused by politicians – going beyond Islamic teachings that are against God’s orders.

“Fatwas have been negatively influenced by politics and has seen Islam being used for personal interests,” he said.

In October, Mahathir, 92, had claimed that the “Amanat Hadi”, a speech delivered by Hadi in Kampung Banggol, Kuala Terengganu, on April 7, 1981, had contributed to the Memali incident, leading to 14 villagers and four police officers losing their lives.-FMT

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