KUALA LUMPUR: PARTI Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar has come under heavy fire from Muslim scholars for allegedly promoting apostasy among Malay Muslims.
Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said one should not simply renounce one's faith after becoming a Muslim.
"Although there is no compulsion for non-Muslims to embrace Islam, once they become Muslims, they are bound by Islamic religious laws.
"Nurul Izzah needs to do her homework before she can talk about the religion," he said.
Harussani said this in response to Nurul Izzah, who on Saturday was reported to have said that religious freedom was for all, including the Malays.
Nurul Izzah, who is also Lembah Pantai member of parliament, was speaking at a forum titled "Islamic state? Which vision? Whose responsibility?" where she emphasised the message of religious freedom, saying that there should be no compulsion in any religion, including Islam.
"How can anyone say the freedom of religion only applies to non-Muslims? It has to be applied equally.
"In the Quran, there is no specific term to Malays as to how it should be done," she said to a question from the audience on whether Malays had freedom of religion.
Harussani said such views should not be condoned as they had elements of liberalism.
Chairman of the National Fatwa Council Tan Sri Abdul Shukor Husin concurred and said Nurul Izzah should explain her statement as this could create confusion among Muslims in the country.
"Although we are free to choose our faith, but once we are Muslims, we are bound by its laws," he said.
Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said liberal thinking that could create chaos and rift among Muslims in the country must be rejected at all costs.
Jati president Datuk Dr Hasan Ali said Nurul Izzah's statement could trigger a movement of apostates.
"They have the machinery and ability. Her statement will open the floodgates and provide them an avenue to deviate from the religion," said the former Pas leader in a statement.
Hasan also lashed out against Nurul Izzah, who is the daughter of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, for expressing her support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the forum, where she was reported to have allegedly said the group should not be victimised by laws but they should avoid displaying their sexual orientation in public.
"This shows they have become more vocal on views that go against Islamic principles. This is a result of Western liberalism, brought in by someone influential like Anwar," he said, and challenged Pas leaders to come out against Nurul Izzah's statement.
Kulim Bandar Baru MP Datuk Zulkifli Noordin said Nurul Izzah's statement could destroy Malays who were synonymous with Islam.
"We are unsure if she is ignorant or just playing politics but her statement is congruent with the view of liberalists and pluralists who equalise all religions," Zulkifli said, adding that Pas, which called itself an Islamic party, should state its approval or disapproval of her statement.
Nurul Izzah, when contacted, denied voicing support for Muslims to leave their religion.
"Once you become a Muslim, you are bound by the Islamic principles enshrined under the syariah code, just like Malaysians are bound by the provisions of the Federal Constitution.
She said she was merely quoting a verse from Surah al-Baqarah of the Quran (a chapter in the Quran) which said religious freedom was for all mankind.
"And I also mentioned that I support the education process for Muslims to better understand their religion and strengthen their faith in Islam."
Selangor Islamic Religious Department director Datuk Marzuki Husin said the department had started an investigation into the matter.