KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian conservative group’s insistence that Muslim men wearing silk was a ‘sign of the apocalypse’ prompted a call Friday for religious authorities to study whether to impose a fatwa on the fabric, a report said.
An activist with the conservative Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia told reporters on Thursday that silk was forbidden for men, citing Islamic literature that describes the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as taking that stance.
Such literature “also states that one of the tanda kiamat (signs of the apocalypse) is when pure silk is being worn,” association activist Sheikh Abdul Kareem S Khadaied was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail.
An official with Perkasa, an NGO that advocates stridently for the rights of the Muslim ethnic Malay majority, waded in Friday, saying the country’s National Fatwa Council needed to dispel ‘confusion’ over the issue.
“Right now, we don’t know what to do, what can we wear? We have to clear this matter up quick,” Irwan Fahmi Ideris, Perkasa’s youth chief, told the Malay Mail Online.
He did not specifically call for a fatwa, or ban, saying silk should be allowed if the wearer’s body was properly covered. AFP could not immediately reach either of the activist groups for comment.
No response has yet been seen by the National Fatwa Council, which issues religious bans on activities considered un-Islamic.
A silk fatwa could signal a fashion disaster for Malaysia, where the colourful traditional Batik shirt design - often printed on silk - is considered a national heritage item.
Also used on cotton, rayon and other textiles, batik is essential attire for government figures and at formal functions in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Though Malaysia practises moderate Islam, concern has risen in the multi-faith country over perceived Islamisation, particularly after elections last May in which the 57-year-old Muslim-dominated government barely clung to power. Islamic groups have since stepped up rhetoric against what they call threats to the Muslim-led status quo. Around one-third of Malaysia’s 28 million people practise other faiths.
In particular, tensions have spiked in recent weeks over demands by Islamic conservatives that Malay-speaking Christians end a centuries-old practice of using the Arabic word “Allah” to refer to the Christian God.
Among its recent fatwas, the council issued one on yoga for Muslims in 2008, saying it could erode their faith, and in 2012 ruled against foreign exchange trading by individuals, saying it “creates confusion” among Muslims.