Recently, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Datuk Idris Ahmad has urged Muslims in the country to avoid going to the Bon Odori festival as the ministry believes the festival is ‘un-Islamic’.
In response to the minister’s remarks, Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that Bon Odori will proceed as planned in July and he said all decisions must take into consideration the diversity and beliefs of the state’s residents.
At the same time, the Sultan himself had also attended the event a few years ago and he found no elements that could erode Muslim beliefs.
“It is just a social event involving Japanese businesses and their employees in Selangor.” said His Royal Highness.
However, despite the royal decree, PAS continues to call on Muslims to stay away from the Bon Odori Festival due to concerns of “religious elements” that could sway people’s faith.
According to The Star, both the PAS Ulama Council and its women’s wing issued statements on Thursday (9 June) to discourage Muslims from participating in the festival.
“Although there are views that say the festival is only related to Japanese culture, it does not in any way dismiss concerns that the event still contains elements of Buddhist religious rituals.”
“This is in line with statements issued by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), muftis and religious experts. Their positions are based on public interest so that people do not fall into traps that could lead to a violation of aqidah (faith).”
“The reasoning that this is a Japanese cultural event is not merited enough for it to be considered together.” said PAS Ulama chief Datuk Ahmad Yahya in a statement
Meanwhile, PAS believes that the festival contains elements of Buddhist religious rituals and its women’s wing believe that Bon Odori is a festival to honour ancestral spirits in which Japanese people return to their hometowns and clean the graves of their ancestors.
On the other hand, Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin suggested that Bon Odori be renamed to prevent confusion among Muslims, reported The Star.
In a Facebook post on 10 June, he suggested alternative names such as the Japanese Cultural Festival or the Japanese society to avoid confusion with the original festival that has elements of syirik (polytheism) and khurafat (superstition).
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