Tuesday marked a watershed moment in the history of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), with the launch of an Independent Advisory Panel. The soon to be formed panel will provide the ulema body with special expertise on a range of issues, to help better the service it provides to the community. Although many have lauded the bold step taken, the announcement has also been met with skepticism from some sectors, who have questioned the validity of the panel’s status as ‘independent’.
But media commentator Mahmood Sanglay said it would be too early to comment on whether the formation of an advisory panel would quell some of the criticisms that have dogged the MJC over the years. The announcement and formation of the advisory panel also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the MJC, which he viewed as “a little curious”.
“I think this has come a little suddenly. There have been many opportunities in the past when the MJC was severely criticized for not having this kind of announcements. I’m a little surprised that it has come now,” he said.
Despite this, he acknowledged that the announcement was a milestone moment in the ulema body’s history, which signaled an important change within the MJC structure.
“Bear in mind that the MJC represents our ulema. These are people that we look up to conduct our marriages, lead our masajid, and are involved in a number of religious functions within our community. They are a very important part of society. So when they make this kind of announcement that projects transformation, it needs to be taken seriously,” he said.
Sanglay also advised caution with the announcement, especially since this was not the first time the MJC had purported to establish an “independent” body. He highlighted the case of the Orion halal saga, where an independent review panel was formed. Many questioned the credibility of the panel, with its final report receiving widespread criticism. The panel further made recommendations for transformation within the MJC’s Halal Trust, which many on the outside believe has not taken place.
“That entire process has been secretive. We don’t know whether the recommendations were actually implemented. The report itself from the panel was not satisfactory. An appointment was made to have those recommendations implemented, but no report has been made to the community or media about that process since,” he said.
Despite the skepticism, Sanglay expressed hope the panel could remain credible from the start and that the MJC would meet with the promises it had made upon its launch. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)