Pictures of a topless Chinese man sitting in a surau in Georgetown have gone viral, eliciting mixed reactions from social media users.
While many praised the surau's bilal for helping non-Muslims amid the devastating Penang floods, others criticised the etiquette of those seeking refuge at the building.
However, 50-year-old bilal Sapno Tukijo who allowed those seeking refuge into the Taman Free School surau said he was unfazed by the criticisms.
"I know there are some that have criticised my action. But I would feel even more guilty if I let them wander aimlessly or worse - get washed away by the strong current," he was quoted as saying by Berita Harian.
In the 2am incident yesterday, Sapno said many residents were trying to save themselves as the water level had reached chest level.
They first sought refuge at a temple but were thwarted by the strong current of flood waters.
"The temple was only opposite the road and I tried to bring them there by tying a rope to an electrical post but failed as the current was strong.
"In the end, I invited them to stay at the surau and they agreed for the sake of their safety," he was quoted as saying.
Sapno said a total of 70 people, including Chinese and Indians from the village nearby stayed at the surau while waiting for the water to subside.
They have since returned to their homes.
Penang saw its heaviest rainfall in recorded history on Nov 4 and 5, causing unprecedented floods on the mainland and island. Parts of Kedah was also severely affected.
The heavy rainfall was caused by a tropical disturbance referred to as "Invest 95W", according to the Pacific Disaster Centre.