Last week, Perak deputy mufti Zamri Hashim called for the demolition for the iconic Eagle statue in Eagle Square (Dataran Helang), Langkawi as it was “haram (forbidden by Allah)”.
However, his request was met with backlash, as a tourism group in Langkawi has objected to his suggestion.
Langkawi Tourism Association (LTA) president Zainuddin Kadir, who represents some 8,000 LTA members, explained that the statue has become a “key tourist attraction” for the past 20 years, and is not a “place of worship or for activities that are contrary to Islam”. Zainuddin has also written to Zamri and hopes to have a conversation with him regarding the 12-metre statue.
Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai also said that the statue was “symbolic of Langkawi as well as being a tourist attraction”. He continued, “Let us be more open about this – embrace that Malaysia is a multi-racial society and be inclusive about this.”
The controversy began when Zamri wrote in his Berita Harian column on Friday (2nd September) that full-bodied statues of living creatures such as humans or animals are not allowed in the teachings of Islam. He also cited Muslim scholars from all Sunni schools of jurisprudence.
However, Kedah deputy mufti Syeikh Marwazi Dziyauddin acknowledged that this wasn’t the first time that the issue has been raised. He also explained that when the statue was first constructed, it might have missed the eye of the Kedah Islamic Religious Department.
The call for demolition was supported by the Ipoh chief of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), who said that if the aforementioned statues have been built, it is “wajib (compulsory)” for it to be demolished.
Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria also justified his deputy’s statement. Speaking to Astro Awani, he explained, “Any living creatures, except for trees, cannot be built as a replica or monument if it is done in a condition with all limbs complete.” However, he refused to comment on the call for demolition of the statue, with only a vague statement saying, “What has to be understood is, what is forbidden remains forbidden.”
Meanwhile, Datuk Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid, Kedah’s exco in charge of religious affairs, suggested that this issue be discussed with the mufti department of every state in Malaysia, as Terengganu has a turtle replica; Kuching has a cat replica; and so on.