The Islamic Religious Council of the respective states in the country should play the role of a think tank and administrator of Islam under the aegis, supervision and direct monitoring of the King, said Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Nazrin Muizzudin Shah.
He said the councils also needed to act as a link between the Muslim community and rulers, between Muslims and the chosen government, and between Muslims and non-Muslims.
"The role of the Islamic Religious Councils must be widened and freed from outdated thinking that was deliberately constricted by the British (colonial masters). Their role should be defined wisely and empowered with thinkers and capable implementers so as to come up with sound ideas and dynamic programmes.
"Whatever the political scenario in the country, as long as the actions of the respective councils are not in conflict with the spirit of the Federal Constitution, they should be recognised as an institution with the important role of ensuring the perpetuity of Islam and survival of the ummah (Muslim community).”
Sultan Nazrin said this at the presentation of appointment letters to 14 members of the Penang State Islamic Religious Council and 25 Shariah court judges and registrars, in George Town, today.
Also present were Penang Yang Dipertua Negeri, Abdul Rahman Abbas and Deputy Chief Minister 1, Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman.
Sultan Nazrin, who is also the Perak ruler, said the loyalty of the appointed council members was to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and His Majesty’s consent must be sought before any policy, directive or activity on Islam were to be implemented.
He said all the council members needed to do re-engineering, removing the old mindset, and drawing up plans and actions that were more substantive for the glory of Islam and well-being of the Muslim community.
Sultan Nazrin also urged the respective religious councils to take on the responsibility of uniting the ummah and be free of any partisan political agenda so that their role would be seen as neutral and accepted without prejudice by the Muslim community.
He said in a situation where Muslims were seen to continue to be at odds on their stand and their spirit of ukhwah (brotherhood) declining, the councils’ unifying role became even more urgent and crucial.