Religious Affairs Minister Says Muslims Shouldn't Participate In Bon Odori Festival

Many netizens called on others to respect the religion as the annual Japanese festival celebrates the custom of people praying to the spirits of their deceased relatives and ancestors.

Cover image via Bernama via New Straits Times & Embassy of Japan in Malaysia (在マレーシア日本国大使館) (Facebook)

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Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad has advised Muslims in Malaysia not to participate in the Bon Odori Festival that will take place on 16 July

This is because the festival — which will be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex — is found to contain elements of other religions, Bernama reported him as saying.

"A study conducted by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) found that the festival does have religious elements, so we advise Muslims not to participate in it," he told reporters at an event yesterday, 6 June.

Datuk Idris Ahmad (centre) attending the ceremony for the Selangor Islamic Education Foundations (YAPIS) Education Complex Project in Mukim Sungai Panjang, Sungai Besar, Selangor on Monday, 6 June.

Image via Bernama

The minister made the statement after he was asked to comment on the organisation of the annual Japanese festival, which features a kimono-clad woman wearing a hijab on its event poster

"That's why we hope such confusion does not arise," he said.

"JAKIM as the coordinating party (of Islam in the country) advises Muslims not to participate in programmes like this or any programme that could affect our religion and beliefs."

The event poster was uploaded on the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia's Facebook page on 31 May, attracting over 1,300 shares and 420 shares

"After two years, Bon Odori is finally back!" read the post that was also shared on Bon Odori Malaysia's Facebook page.

"Come and join the fun this 16 July at Kompleks Sukan Negara Shah Alam (Panasonic). It is free admission for everyone so what are you waiting for? Tag all your friends in the comment to spread this news!"

Some netizens expressed their excitement over the news in the comments section, while some cautioned others about attending the event, citing that the festival is a custom where people pray to the spirits of their deceased relatives and ancestors.

A news article on the issue found many netizens thanking Idris for his advisory and reminder.

"To the non-Muslim who may be confused and can't connect the dots about Islam (especially related to the post), we Muslims have a few red lines whenever it's related to our creed, the pillar of faith (Iman). Yes, you may say this is just a festival, let's have fun and all, but to us, for Muslims, it is not that easy, as we need to avoid the biggest sin in Islam, which is Shirk (making partners of Allah)," read a comment.

"Actually it's true, if the Muslim cannot attend then we should respect their belief, they also never forced non-Muslims not to attend. I think this is fair, if they say that they cannot attend this festival then we should just respect their wishes and decision. We should not [continue giving] negative comments or say something to provoke them," added another Facebook user.

Image via Facebook

Last month, Idris warned Malaysians against dressing up their stand fans with telekung:

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