Jakim: Don’t be so touchy about use of animal symbols during Chinese New Year

TTF: A news editorial by Malaysia Outlook

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) is urging Muslims not to be so touchy about the use of animal symbols and images during Chinese New year.

Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha in a statement yesterday, said the use of animal symbols and images during Chinese New Year is something that must be respected by everyone.

He was referring to 2018 being the Year of the Dog.

“Even though animal symbols are used during Chinese New Year, the concept of co-existence (fiqh taa’yush) dictates that all parties need to respect this practice and maintain harmony between all races,” the Star Online quoted him as saying.

“This is in line with the government’s policy of using a wasatiyyah (moderate) approach,” he said.

He said all parties needed to exhibit wisdom and fully understand the spirit of co-existence in order to ensure unity among Malaysians of all faiths and ethnicities.

Dogs are considered unclean under Islamic tradition and Muslims are required to carry out a washing ritual if they come in contact with the animal.

Chinese communities worldwide will celebrate the first day of the Chinese New Year on Feb 16.

In Chinese astrology, each year of the 12-year zodiac cycle is represented by an animal.

The 12 traditional Chinese zodiac animals include a dog and a pig, two animals Muslims consider unclean.

Jakim’s statement follows recent reports of some businesses in Malaysia playing down the portrayal of dogs in Chinese New Year decorations.

Reuters had reported an upmarket mall in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s tourist hotspot of Bukit Bintang had not shown any images of canines, but instead focused on its 10th anniversary celebration as its décor for the Chinese New Year.

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur marketing director Kung Suan Ai told Reuters that religious and cultural sensitivities were a determining factor in conceptualising decorations.