Malaysian police are leaving it to the country’s religious authorities whether or not to ban writings by Islamic scholars whose views were used by IS militants to justify their terror attacks.
This followed a statement by principal assistant director of the Special Branch’s Counter-Terrorism Unit, Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, saying that some “extremist” teachings of 14-century Islamic scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah have been used by IS and other militants in the past.
“I hope those who are not happy with my statement will come and meet me to get a more comprehensive picture,” he told reporters after a forum on terrorism in Kuala Lumpur today..
Ayob said many quarters in the Muslim world had already restricted Ibn Taymiyyah’s works, including Egypt’s Al Azhar University.
“It is up to the government, some countries have banned Ibn Taymiyyah’s books, including Al-Azhar scholars,” he said, adding that Jordan has recently stopped Ibn Taiymiyyah’s books.
He said Malaysia’s failure to take action would make it difficult for the police to contain the spread of terrorist ideologies.
“We can arrest and charge them, but it will never end,” he said.
Ayob’s linking of the IS terror group with Ibn Taymiyyah drew the ire of local Islamic scholars, who said it was wrong to make the connection as IS teachings had nothing to do with Islam.
National Da’wah Council chairman Datuk Prof. Mahmood Zuhdi Abd Majid urged the authorities to be careful in making such allegations against Ibn Taymiyyah, who is widely regarded as an authority in Sunni Islam.
It also drew criticism from PAS Ulama chief Datuk Dr Mahfodz Mohamed, who said the views and works of Ibn Taymiyyah were widely used by universities around the world including Al-Azhar.
“Ibn Taymiyyah is not an extremist ulama, his works are read by Muslims of all schools of thought,” he told news portal Free Malaysia Today recently.
But Ayob today defended his position, saying while he was not accusing the renowned scholar as deviant, some of his extreme views were being exploited by IS militants to justify their cruel acts.
Ibn Taymiyyah, known in Islamic scholarship as “Sheikhul Islam”, was from the Sunni Hanbali school, and highly regarded as a theologian and logician who lived during the Mongol invasion.
Though highly respected for his works on Islamic theology, his views were often cited for their influence on Wahhabism and Salafism, the strains of Islam which are often linked to IS ideology.