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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sabah varsity cancels fake ex-priest-turned-Muslim’s talk

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and SIDMA college distanced themselves today from a talk tonight featuring a Muslim scholar alleged to be a former Christian priest from a German church.

In a brief conversation this morning, SIDMA College chairman Prof Morni Kambrie told Malay Mail Online that alleged ex-Episcopal priest Ustaz Ayub Abdul Rahman’s event scheduled at the college’s Sabah campus has been cancelled.

“It’s not happening,” Morni said. “I don’t see any more rationale to expand on this issue”.

A flyer on the Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department's (Jheains) Facebook page had named SIDMA College, Sabah, as the venue for Ayub's talk titled Perjalanan Hijrah & Dakwah ― Catatan Kehidupan (Chronicles of life ― a journey of migration and Islamic missions).

In the flyer on an April 12 Facebook post on Ayub’s talk tonight, he was described as a former priest at the Church of St Augustine of Canterbury at “Frankfurter” in Germany and the 2005 recipient of the Maal Hijrah Personality award for Sarawak in the category of new Muslim converts.

The Episcopal church in Wiesbaden, Germany, told Malay Mail Online that Ayub had never served as a priest nor held any official functions there.

The flyer on the Jheains Facebook post also claimed that UMS was one of the organisers of Ayub’s talk, but the public university said it was a “misunderstanding”.

“This event is not organised by UMS and not allowed in campus,” UMS’s deputy vice-chancellor Assoc Prof Dr Ismail Ali told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

He added that UMS does not recognise Ayub and always conducts background checks on speakers before inviting them to the university.

He explained that the university does not permit religious events to be held within its campus, and only allows cultural events such as Chinese festivals and the Harvest festival to be held there.

UMS also distanced itself from endorsing Ayub in a brief post on its official Facebook page late last night following Malay Mail Online’s inquiry, clarifying that it was only providing the venue for a separate talk titled “Ibrah Al-Quran untuk Wanita” featuring independent Muslim preacher Dr Ruziah Gahzali.

“UMS is not involved in the organising or the provision of venue for Ustaz Ayub’s talk,” said UMS.

“The confusion arose because the UMS logo was placed on the promotional materials @publicity, when UMS is only the venue for Dr Ruziah’s talk,” the university added, attaching the flyer featuring UMS’s mosque as the venue and UMS as one of the organisers for Ruziah’s event.

A check of the Facebook page of Institut Pengajian al-Quran (IPaQ) — one of the listed organisers —showed that it had posted on April 19 a similar poster about Ayub’s talk.

This version however did not feature UMS’s logo under the organiser heading and also did not mention Ayub’s alleged ex-priest position.

Ayub’s talk is part of a series of events in conjunction with Sabah’s first-ever “Mahrajan Ilmu Al-Quran Sabah 2016” organised by IPaQ that runs from today onwards and ends tomorrow, according to the institute’s Facebook post.

The institute this morning removed the Facebook post, which had also named the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (Maiwp), Jheains, the Sabah Islamic Religious Council (Muis) and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) Sabah branch as co-organisers for the “Mahrajan Ilmu Al-Quran Sabah 2016” convention.

The institute’s Facebook page describes itself as a non-governmental organisation and a foundation based at Petaling Jaya’s Masjid Tun Abdul Aziz, also stating that it conducts programmes covering the appreciation and application of knowledge from the Muslim holy book, al-Quran.

Malay Mail Online was not able to immediately obtain clarification from those listed as the organisers of Ayub’s talk, which is advertised as free and open to the public.

A woman called Mrs Mahira, who was named as a contact person for registration for IPaQ’s two-day al-Quran convention, said the information mentioning Ayub’s alleged former priest position was “old” information that has been rectified.

She said Ayub’s talk would revolve around his journey for “dakwah” for Islam or Islamic missionary activities.

“We are not doing it there (SIDMA college) to avoid a few matters, but we will continue on,” she told Malay Mail Online in a brief conversation, adding that a new venue for Ayub’s talk tonight has yet to be decided on.

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