De facto Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa said today that his position on Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has not changed despite having met the latter last week.
Mujahid said he had used the meeting to explain Malaysia's situation to Zakir.
"We talked about rahmatan lil alamin (blessings for all) and maqasid syariah (objectives of syariah). I explained to him Malaysia's reality and problems.
"I think it was a good meeting. I told him about Malaysia's Islamic administration. He has a better picture now," he told reporters at the sidelines of a Women's Day seminar at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
"What's important is that people out there stop pitting me against him. That meeting was not a 'U-turn'. No.
"The meeting was for me to explain matters to him. I didn't have the opportunity before this," he added.
Following his meeting with Zakir last week, Mujahid had described Zakir as an "inspirational" person.
"His experience in dakwah (preaching) in all corners of the world serves as an inspiration for us to continue with our preaching efforts.
"May Allah strengthen his preaching efforts to guide humans to know Islam," he had said.
Last September, Mujahid was cited stating that Zakir's style of preaching was not suitable for Malaysia, and suggested that the latter's preaching methods involved ridiculing other religions.
The preacher is wanted in his home country of India over money laundering charges. The previous BN administration had granted him permanent resident status.
Mujahid's meeting with Zakir had elicited condemnation from various groups, including G25.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya branded the preacher a "divisive and offensive" figure, and wondered how Mujahid could find him "inspirational."
"Keep it up Mr Minister… at this rate you can join back PAS soon!" tweeted the Lawyers For Liberty executive director.
In a related development, Mujahid said the inaugural National Islamic Affairs Council meeting was held last Thursday and was chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said the council involved all menteris besar and chief ministers.
All decisions on Islamic matters, said Mujahid, will then be conveyed to the Conference of Rulers.