PETALING JAYA: The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) should be an independent body free from politics, says an Umno grassroots leader.
Former Bandar Tun Razak Umno division secretary Zaharin Mohd Yasin added that the Government should have no role in Jakim or Islam.
"It is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to have authority over Islamic matters," Zaharin said.
"The Federal Constitution only states that Islam is the official religion of the Federation. But it doesn't in any way give the Federal Government authority over Islamic affairs," he said.
He pointed out that Islamic affairs is currently under the purview of the state governments, therefore Jakim is unconstitutional.
"Islam should not be politicised, it should instead be an independent body free from government intervention," he said.
Zaharin said that Jakim and its officers should instead be answerable to Parliament.
He noted further that the position of minister in charge of religious affairs, a position held by Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, should also be scrapped.
Zaharin also voiced his disagreement with Jakim's practise of intervening in the lives of Muslims and shaming those who are deemed un-Islamic.
"I don't agree with Jakim's practice of shaming people. I think that is an embarrassment to Islam.
"Jakim has raided hotels or residences to catch people in close proximity (khalwat) and they bring the media with them. They shame them. And I don't agree with this," he said.
Jakim's role came under the spotlight after the eldest son of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tawfik Ismail, called for the abolition of the religious body. However, Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha responded to Tawfik saying that the department is still very relevant.