ALOR SETAR - Non-Muslims in Kedah need not be worried or confused over the recent amendment to an 1988 enactment that bars non-Muslims from using Islamic religious words and terminology.
State exco member Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid said no non-Muslim had been arrested in the state under the enactment for using terms that are exclusive to Islam and Muslims.
Mohd Rawi said non-Muslims could still use the words in their daily conversations, but not in their own prayers, public speeches or in religious publications.
"If you say you want to go to a masjid (mosque), why not? If you ask me where that masjid is, there's no problem with the usage of that term," he said yesterday.
"But if you call a non-Muslim religious house of worship a masjid, then that is wrong. Of course, you cannot call a temple a masjid.
On Wednesday, the Control and Restriction of The Propagation Of Non-Islamic Religious (Amendment) Enactment was passed at the state legislative assembly.
Among the major changes are that the number of words and terms that cannot be associated with a religion other than Islam has been increased from 24 to 40.
Among the words included in the amendment are masjid, surau, zakat, ulama, mubaligh, haji, hajjah, mufti, kadi, Quran and sheikh.
The amendment also added 15 expressions which are not to be used by non-Muslims.
Mohd Rawi, who is in charge of religion, Indian and Siamese community affairs, human resources and tourism, said it was wrong for non-Muslim opposition leaders to use the Islamic greeting in their ceramah.
Kedah Environment, Chinese Community Affairs, Health and Unity Committee chairman Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong said there were no major changes in the enactment that would affect non-Muslims.
"The title of the enactment may be alarming, but I've raised the matter during the state exco meetings and have been briefed about it.
"The law is not to prevent non-Muslims from practising their faith, but we should follow certain things such as not allowing non-Muslims to propagate their faiths to Muslims.
"We must not misuse certain words such as calling your temple a masjid because it is wrong and offensive," he added.
Dr Leong, who is also Kedah MCA deputy chairman, said non-Muslims were free to use the Islamic words in their daily conversations and when singing the state anthem.