As states in the country go on heightened alert against a possible revival of the outlawed Al-Arqam, Negri Sembilan Wednesday announced it had detected attempts to bring back the movement under two or three other names, including a "nasyid" (religious choir) group.
Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the Al-Arqam followers operated in the guise of running an organisation or business but their intention was to revive the teachings which had been categorised as deviant through a "fatwa" (ruling) in 1994.
"Their targets are young people in urban areas and people who have little knowledge of religion and can be easily influenced compared to rural people who have more in-depth knowledge of religion.
"We know these people and have been monitoring their activities constantly.
"They use other names and operate in splinter groups, all for the same purpose," he told reporters after chairing a weekly meeting of the state executive council, here.
Mohamad said so far no action had been taken and no arrests made because there was no evidence to show that these people had violated the law.
He said the people who had been calling on Ashaari Muhammad, leader of the Rufaqa Corporation and former leader of the Al-Arqam movement, at a house in Nilai were also being monitored by the police to ensure they did not forge an association.
"So far, their activities have been within the law. These people are very smart. The way they approach people is very subtle and it is very difficult to see what they are doing is against the law, but we are monitoring them," he said.
Tuesday, the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) asked state governments to evaluate the teachings of the Rufaqa Corporation which are said to be deviant and more perilous than the Al-Arqam teachings.
Last Saturday, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) detained about 100 people suspected to be practising Al-Argam teachings in a raid on a shophouse in Section 13, Shah Alam.
Four men in their 40's addressed as "sheikhs" by their followers were also held as they were delivering a talk at the premises.
A Jais investigation found that members of the Rufaqa Corporation regarded Ashaari as their saint.
In KANGAR, Perlis Islamic Affairs Committee chairman Azam Rashid said the state was monitoring the activities of Rufaqa to ensure that it did not impose any deviant teachings on the people.
He said investigations indicated that Rufaqa members from outside Perlis were actively soliciting for support among Muslims in the state.
However, he added, the people's understanding of the teachings of the Quran prevented them from falling prey to any deviant teachings.
Azam said enforcement officers of the Perlis Islamic Religious Department (JAIPs) often met with members of Rufaqa Corporation and had been assured that the latter would not carry out any activity contrary to true Islamic teachings.
"Nevertheless, stern action will be taken if there is evidence that members of Rufaqa attempt to assimilate deviant teachings into Islamic teachings as this tantamounts to violating the state's Syariah law," he added.
In PENANG, the state government today directed the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) to detect Rufaqa activities that gave rise to problems.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah, who is chairman of the State Religious Committee, told reporters that there had been no reports so far on the existence of the group in the state.
Nevertheless, he wants MAINPP to request religious administrators in the districts to report any activity of the organisation in the state.
In IPOH, the Perak Islamic Religious Department (Jaip) will hold a special meeting to determine whether action should be taken against Rufaqa.
Jaip director Datuk Jamry Sury, who will chair the meeting, said Rufaqa had been detected to be active in Ipoh and Manjung and that Jaip had been monitoring the activities of the 50 to 100 members.
He said Jaip received the assistance of the police, immigration and customs authorities as well as the Internal Security Ministry in monitoring the activities of the group.
Jamry said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry was also helping with the monitoring because Rufaqa operated under a business licence.
"One of the aspects of the monitoring is to ensure that they do not organise talks or lectures at their premises with a view to recruiting more members," he said.
In ALOR STAR, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the State Security Committee and the Kedah Islamic Religious Department (JAIK) were monitoring two settlements, in Pulau Pisang, Jitra, and Merbok, which seemed to function along the lines of Al-Arqam villages.
He said the state government constantly kept a watch on the growth of deviant teachings in the state and checked them.