Muftis at odds over ESQ

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
July 09, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Former Johor Mufti Datuk Nooh Gadot defended the Emotional Spiritual Quotient (ESQ) leadership centre today, after a decision by the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Council’s decision to declare it “haram” sparked a row about the suitability of its motivational programme for Muslims.“The role of ulama (religious scholars) is to preach and not give judgment. The Prophet has reminded us of this very clearly,” Nooh told reporters during a press conference today.

The member of ESQ’s Syariah panel explained that according to a “hadith” (Prophet’s sayings), the Prophet said that a man who wrongfully accuses his fellow Muslim as a non-believer will in turn become a non-believer himself.

The Syariah panel supervises and monitors ESQ’s training sessions and ensures that it does not contravene Islamic teachings.

Nooh was responding to the “fatwa”, or religious edict, made by the Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Zahidi Wan Teh.

Zahidi issued the “fatwa” banning ESQ on the grounds that its training breached Islamic teachings and “supports liberalism by making free interpretation of the Quran and [supports the concept of] pluralism in religions, which says that all religions are the same and true”.

He also denounced the training for using logic as the main reference instead of the Quran and Sunnah or prophetic tradition.

The ESQ leadership centre is a personal development programme integrating the use of intellectual quotient, emotional quotient and spiritual quotient based on Islamic teaching.

It was founded by Indonesian ulama, Dr Ary Ginanjar Agustian, and was established in Malaysia in 2006.

Only muftis from Penang, Perak, Kedah and Pahang have approved the training conducted by ESQ.

Earlier today, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria also denied ESQ was un-Islamic and said its programmes had nothing to do with liberalism or pluralism.

He also pointed out that the National Fatwa Council had found that ESQ was not against recognised Islamic teachings.

In his thinly veiled attack on the FT mufti, Nooh said today that the role of ulama was to preach, advise, and lead the community, but not to pass judgment.

Nooh said that ulama must be tolerant and open to discussion.

“That is why we must be careful because as ulama and scholars, we must be humble and careful of our knowledge,” he said.

Nooh stressed that ulama must not have malicious intent and should not make false accusations.

“There must be consultation before any decision is made but two opinions are better than one and obviously 14 opinions are better than two. Ulama must search for truth and justice,” he said.

He added that ulama must not be selfish and only consider personal interests, but should make decisions based on public good.

“We must follow popular opinion. Our role as ulama is to close the differences and not widen it. An ulama must be transparent in his actions. We must be able to accept and respect the opinion of others,” he said.

Source: The Malaysian Insider