KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 ― A surau provided shelter for about 70 non-Muslim flood victims in Penang despite criticism from some Muslims.
Harian Metro reported yesterday that the Taman Free School surau in George Town has been providing shelter for non-Muslim flood victims, since floods submerged at least 80 per cent of the Penang island following continuous rain and storm over the weekend.
“I do not care what people say, what is important is that their lives can be saved,” Taman Free School surau chief Sapno Tukijo reportedly said.
About 70 Chinese and Indian residents from villages near Lengkuk P. Ramlee were housed at the surau, he said.
Sapno said that he was aware of criticisms regarding his decision to provide shelter to non-Muslims but said that he would feel “more guilty” if he saw people having “nowhere to go” during the floods.
He also reportedly said the flood victims had initially wanted to seek shelter at a temple and were hesitant about going to the surau out of “respect”. But the waters were too fast and had reached chest level, leading him to invite them to the surau.
“They finally gave in and took shelter at this surau. In fact, some were shirtless because they just came out in whatever they were dressed in.”
Penang assistant adviser on Islamic matters Wan Ji Wan Hussin backed the surau’s move and also criticised those who were condemning the fact that non-Muslims were allowed to use a Muslim place of worship.
“Islam as friendly, peaceful and harmonious is the approach taken by Penang people. We ask that any action that can bring enmity among the people not be brought to Penang,” the Muslim preacher said in a Facebook post.
However, controversial preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, who recently was subjected to royal ire for remarks made about Chinese people during a religious talk, in his own Facebook post, criticised the surau’s move.
After citing several religious scholars, Zamihan concluded that the Penang flood situation should not be categorised as an “emergency” in order to give shelter for non-Muslims.
“There are still other alternatives for their needs. And the management should remind them of manners and conditions to protect the purity of the mosque,” he said.