Fatwa panel allows controversial ESQ programmes
UPDATED @ 12:07:13 PM 14-07-2010
By Boo Su-Lyn
July 14, 2010

PUTRAJAYA, July 14 — The National Fatwa Council has approved the Emotional Spiritual Quotient (ESQ) leadership training subject to certain conditions, contradicting the Federal Territories Mufti’s June 10 “fatwa” or religious edict banning the course.

National Fatwa Council chairman Tan Sri Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said their decision was made in a muzakarah last June 16, after research from a panel set up by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and explanation from the company, which was founded by Indonesian cleric and motivator Ary Ginanjar Agustian.

“The ESQ leadership training can be conducted in Malaysia with full supervision by the Syariah panel appointed by the ESQ,” Abdul Shukor told reporters today.

“This is because the muzakarah is satisfied that most of the elements of doubt in the ESQ leadership training course can be rectified,” he added.

Abdul Shukor stressed that the company’s syariah panel was responsible to monitor the contents of the ESQ training course and to report any future contradictions against Islamic teachings.

The ESQ syariah panel is headed by Datuk Mustafa Abd. Rahman (a former Jakim director-general) with Datuk as-Sheikh Nooh Gadut (Johor Religious Council advisor), Datuk Paduka Sheikh Hasbullah Abdul Halim (former Kedah Mufti), Tan Sri Kadir Talib (former Wilayah Persekutuan Mufti) and Dr Adnan Yusof (Dean of the al-Quran and Sunnah faculty in the Islamic Science University of Malaysia).

“Most of them do not have any vested interests in religious councils or ESQ matters,” the National Fatwa Council chairman added.

The ESQ leadership training has sparked disagreements between muftis or chief cleric on its adherence to Islamic teachings.

Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Zahidi Wan Teh issued a “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”.

However, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria and former Johor Mufti Datuk Nooh Gadot have defended the programme, with the former saying that the ESQ courses had nothing to do with liberalism or pluralism.

The ESQ leadership centre established in Malaysia in 2006 is a personal development programme integrating the use of intellectual quotient, emotional quotient and spiritual quotient based on Islamic teaching.

When asked if all states except the Federal Territories now accepted the ESQ leadership course, Abdul Shukor said, “Yes.”

“Eight muftis who are members of the Muzakarah also attended the ESQ programmes,” said Abdul Shukor, naming Perak, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Pahang and Sarawak muftis among the participants.

The National Fatwa Council chairman added that several Indonesian ulamas and Muslim organisations confirmed that the ESQ course did not contradict Islamic teachings.

“In Wilayah (Persekutuan), the ESQ is not allowed because of the gazette against it,” said Abdul Shukor.

“That is the right of the Wilayah Persekutuan mufti and we respect his decision,” he added.

Abdul Shukor said that the council’s decision to approve the ESQ course was not legally binding and that it was up to the states to accept or reject it.

However, he reminded state muftis to consult each other before issuing religious edicts if the issue concerned was of national interest.

“If the issue concerns national interest, the opinion of the muzakarah needs to be consulted before the state issues a ‘fatwa’,” said Abdul Shukor.

“And this (ESQ leadership course) is a national issue,” he added.

Source: The Malaysian Insider