Malaysia is a beautiful, multi-cultural country where everyone comes together to celebrate the different festivities throughout the year. This year is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese zodiac and some establishments might be a little wary about using the canine in their decorations.
To clarify this issue, director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has released a statement. If you have any reservations about using dog images for your Chinese New Year decorations, you can be rest assured because he has said that “The use of animal symbols and images during Chinese New Year is something that must be respected by everyone.”
The Star reported that Othman said, “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. This is in line with Government’s policy of using a wasatiyyah (moderate) approach.”
This statement was released after there were news about some businesses who decided to err on the side of caution about the decorations this year. Dogs are generally considered an unclean animal for Muslims and they need to carry out a special washing ritual if they come in contact with canines.
Meanwhile, the Chinese zodiac incorporates two animals that are considered unclean by the Muslims, which include the dog and the pig. Coincidentally, the year of the Pig is next year. Othman said that all parties needed to exhibit tolerance in this matter wisely to ensure that the unity and harmony would remain among the diverse community of Malaysians in the country.
Jakim was previously embroiled in the controversy surrounding the usage of the word “Dog” in Auntie Anne’s, the popular pretzel chain’s halal certification. The chain ultimately decided to change the name of its “Pretzel Dog” to “Pretzel Sausage” to comply with requirements.
We’re all Malaysians and should always show love, tolerance and respect to our fellow citizens! <3
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