July 23 2010
KUALA LUMPUR — Muslims must not wear the famous Manchester United red jersey because of the “devil” emblem on its team crest, Malaysian clerics said Wednesday.
Manchester United and the rest of the English Premier League are massively popular in Muslim-majority Malaysia and the rest of the Asian region, but conservative religious scholars said the jersey is un-Islamic.
Also off limits are the shirts of teams including Brazil, Portugal, Barcelona, Serbia and Norway, all of which carry images of the cross on their team emblems.
“This is very dangerous. As a Muslim, we should not worship the symbols of other religions or the devils,” Nooh Gadot, a top Islamic cleric from the southern Johor state, told AFP.
“It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons,” said Nooh, an advisor to the Johor religious council.
“Even if it (the jersey) is a gift, we should decline it. It is even more sinful when people realise this is wrong and still buy these jerseys to wear,” he added.
Nooh said there was no “fatwa”, or religious edict, against the shirts but that one was not needed when it was clearly wrong for Muslims to don such a garment.
“These Muslims should repent, repent immediately,” he said.
Another leading cleric, Harussani Zakaria, a cleric from northern Perak state, agreed that devils should be shunned, not celebrated.
“Yes of course in Islam we don’t allow people to wear this sort of thing,” he told AFP. “Devils are our enemies, why would you put their picture on you and wear it? You are only promoting the devil.”
Malaysia is a generally moderate Islamic country, but conservative clerics have issued controversial edicts in the past including a ban on the ancient practice of yoga, which is criticised for including Hindu religious elements.