Al-Arqam sect never ceased operations

KUALA LUMPUR: The Al-Arqam movement had never stopped operating. It only changed its methods of operation.

The movement’s former legal adviser Zabidi Mohamed said when the movement was declared illegal in 1994 by the Home Ministry, half of its former members repented, while the rest continued to practice the teachings in secret.

“They dressed normally to blend in with the crowd. There were no more skull caps and robes.”

He said Rufaqa Corporation Sdn Bhd, which former Al-Arqam leader Ashaari Muhammad set up during his detention, scouted for new recruits among students from public and private institutions.

Zabidi, who wrote a book in 1998 called Arqam — Tersungkur Di Pintu Syurga, and is now a full-time writer, said students were easier to target as they were more receptive to the movement’s teachings.

“They will slowly try to get them to join Rufaqa by claiming the organisation is new and has no links to the Al-Arqam movement,” he said.

He said there were also attempts at recruiting former members to rejoin the group and some of his friends, who were ex-Al-Arqam members, succumbed to it.

“How could there be a revival when it is still operating, albeit secretly, all this while?”

He said a book on Ashaari, entitled Abuya Ashaari Muhammad: Pemimpin Paling Ajaib di Zamannya, which was written by Ashaari’s wife Khadijah Aam, was recently launched in Malaysia and Thailand.

He believed the book sparked interest in Ashaari, which made recruitment easier.

He said daily pressures, especially from those who have financial and family problems, were among the reasons that drove people to the movement.

Asked on several members called “Sheikhs”, who were held by the authorities on Saturday, Zabidi said the only person he knew who used the moniker “Sheikh” was Ashaari.

“However, I believe these ‘Sheikhs’ are former senior followers of Ashaari,” he said.

Zabidi added that due to this latest incident, he planned to reprint his book by early next year.

Eye on sundry shops used as fronts

JOHOR BARU: Sundry shops are believed to be used as fronts for the revival of the Al-Arqam movement.

The Johor Islamic Affairs Department is investigating several shops suspected of channelling their profits towards the movement.

State Religion, Education, Higher Education, Human Resources, Science, Technology and Innovation Commitee chairman Zainal Abidin Osman said several shops here and in Kluang are linked to the movement.

“There are tell-tale signs. Those linked to the movement will have the photograph of the movement’s leader Ashaari Muhammad displayed in the premises.

“We will not stop them if they are operating a genuine sundry business. We will act if the outlets are used as a front for the movement.

“There are signs that the movement is being revived,” he said.

Zainal said the movement was banned as it disseminated false teachings of Islam.

“If we allow them to exist, they will only confuse the people.

“Although there are attempts to revive the movement in Johor, the response is poor. It is not easy to pollute the minds of Muslims in Johor, as their religious foundations are strong,” he added.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday November 28, 2006.
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