Rufaqa' absolved sins and bestowed power

The Star, Malaysia/November 30, 2006

The Rufaqa' movement allegedly organised an absolution of sins and power bestowment ceremony for former members of the disbanded al-Arqam as well as potential members from within and outside the country recently, a former member of al-Arqam revealed.

Zul Asnan Haron, a former al-Arqam secretary for Kedah, claimed that during the programme, held during the fasting month in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, participants were required to pay a RM30 registration fee each and surrender their valuables, including money and jewellery, if they wanted their sins to be cleansed and “transferred” to former leader of al-Arqam Ashaari Muhammad.

Ashaari (known as Abuya to followers) set up Rufaqa' Corporation Sdn Bhd in 1997 while he was under restricted residence in Rawang. He is the executive chairman of Rufaqa' Corporation.

Zul Asnan said his two sons had secretly joined the programme after receiving an SMS about it from their friends in Rufaqa'.

“My two sons, aged 19 and 21, travelled all the way from our home in Shah Alam to Nilai. They called me to inform me that they would not be back as they had joined the programme,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

“They were screened and given clean sets of clothes and quarantined for three months during the programme. The condition for having their sins cleansed was that they had to surrender their valuables,” said Zul Asnan, who was in al-Arqam since he was 16 in 1977 until it was banned in 1994.

“They were taught how to obtain supernatural powers and asked to utter Abuya 11 times during mass prayers,” said Zul Asnan, who now concentrates on his travel agency.

Sheikh Hussein Sheikh Omar, a former personal assistant and driver of Ashaari, who claimed that Ashaari invited him for a dialogue on a book last June, said Rufaqa' was not reviving the banned teachings of al-Arqam but actually continuing the teachings all along.

Sheikh Hussein said the book, written by Ashaari's wife Khadijah Aam, included Ashaari's claim that he had a dialogue with Prophet Mohamad and commentaries on the political situation in Malaysia and the feud between Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It is now being circulated.

“Rufaqa's registration as a legitimate business entity under the Companies Commission of Malaysia is just a facade,” said Mohd Fakhruddin Arrazi Abdullah, who was a former al-Arqam head in Perlis between 1992 and 1997.

“The name may have changed from al-Arqam to Rufaqa', and the followers wear skullcaps instead of turbans, but their faith and beliefs have not changed. Now they use different tactics.”

Meanwhile, in Shah Alam, state executive councillor in charge of religious affairs Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil said the state government would ban the Rufaqa’ movement after the Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS) meets on Dec 21.

“Once the Rufaqa’ issue has been discussed at this level, the movement and its business arm Rufaqa’ Corporation Sdn Bhd will be gazetted as being deviationist,” he added.

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