Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has come out with a statement rebuking discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Asri said, while same-sex intercourse is a sin in Islam, there are hadith (actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad) which espouses Muslims not to interfere in matters of personal sin.
"A sin is a sin. However, a sin does not justify other sins being committed against the sinner.
"In the context of today, the right to education, business, employment, justice, property and so on for those who commit major sins, including the LGBT must not be disturbed as long as they don't break any regulations on those matters.
"On the principle of justice, all regulations should apply to everyone involved in a fair and balanced manner," he said in a lengthy Facebook posting,
He said there must only be public opposition if such personal sins are done publicly or there is a campaign to influence others on the matter, as this has entered the public sphere.
Asri's remarks came amid heated public debate on LGBT rights, after activist Numan Afifi (photo), the interim press secretary of Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, had to resign due to backlash over his sexual orientation.
Asri had cited two hadith to support his remarks.
The first was a hadith where the Prophet Muhammad repeatedly rejected the confession of a man who claimed to have committed zina (illicit sex).
"As such the Prophet Muhammad rejects cases of personal sin from being prosecuted. Meaning, if someone admits to zina or homosexuality we should ignore it. That is a matter of repenting between him and Allah," he said.
The second hadith is how the prophet chastised an individual who cursed a man he had whipped for drinking alcohol
"A man who was there said, 'O Allah, curse him, how often he is brought (to punishment for this reason)!” But the Prophet said: 'Do not curse him, for by Allah what I know about him is that he loves Allah and His Messenger'," read an excerpt of the hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari.
Asri also cited an incident involving the second caliph Umar al-Khattab, who while on patrol in Madinah, was chastised by a companion for disobeying Allah's command not to "spy" on others.
Meanwhile, he also argued that while same-sex intercourse is a sin, it is also a test for some individuals, and that everyone commits some form of sin.
"Just as we hope for forgiveness from Allah, so to do some of them (seek forgiveness).
"As such, our joined duty is to help one another return to Allah, to receive his forgiveness," he said.