It looks like PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar has bitten off more than she can chew for allegedly promoting apostasy among Malay Muslims. She may be a rising star within the Opposition party, but that cuts no ice with Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria.
He rejected Nurul Izzah's recent comments that religious freedom was for all communities, including the Malays.
"Nurul Izzah needs to do her homework before she can talk about the religion (Islam)," Harussani said.
"Although there is no compulsion for non-Muslims to embrace Islam, once they become Muslims, they are bound by Islamic religious laws," he added.
Nurul Izzah appears to be pushing a controversial liberal agenda that has upset Muslim scholars and could derail ties with coalition partner PAS. At a forum on Saturday, she reportedly discussed religious freedom, allegedly claiming 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," she was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
"In the Quran, there is no specific term to Malays as to how it should be done," Nurul Izzah reportedly said to a question from the audience on whether Malays had freedom of religion.
Harussani responded on Monday, saying such views should not be condoned as they had elements of liberalism.
This was corroborated by Chairman of the National Fatwa Council Tan Sri Abdul Shukor Husin, who said that Nurul Izzah should explain her statement as it 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.
Jati president Datuk Dr Hasan Ali also criticised Nurul Izzah – who is the daughter of de facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim – for allegedly expressing her support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community at the forum.
"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," Hasan said, challenging PAS leaders to come out against Nurul Izzah's comments.
Yet PAS has been conspicuous by its absence. The Islamist party has not yet commented on Nurul Izzah's remarks, but it must be irked as her comments go against the Islamic ideals that are close to PAS.
With personal mudslinging still taking place between PAS and DAP over hudud, religion is already a touchy subject within Pakatan Rakyat. Many in PAS are uncomfortable with the idea of a Chinese-dominated party dictating terms to Muslims on religion.
Kulim Bandar Baru MP Datuk Zulkifli Noordin said that PAS should make it clear whether it approves or disapproves of Nurul Izzah's statement.
"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.
Meanwhile, Nurul Izzah has denied voicing support for Muslims to leave their religion. She said she would take legal action against newspapers Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian for allegedly twisting her comments.
"I have ordered my lawyers – Hanipa Maidin and Sulaiman Abdullah – to take legal action against Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and possibly a few media including blogs, relating to reports with elements of faith defamation (fitnah aqidah) that has twisted part of my full statement the other day," Nurul Izzah wrote in a statement Tuesday.
She told reporters that she is ready to cooperate with the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) over the issue.
But the damage has already been done. The strained ties between DAP and PAS are only likely to get worse, following Nurul Izzah's alleged comments on religious freedom.