Islamic party accuses Malaysian judge of insulting Islam in turban ruling

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Malaysia's opposition Islamic party has accused a top judge of insulting Islam by ruling that a Muslim boy need not wear a turban — as the Prophet Muhammad did — to prove his faith.

The case began when three Muslim boys sued the government because their state school expelled them for refusing to remove their turbans. The boys lost their case, and appealed — but a Federal Court dismissed the appeal.

Judge Abdul Hamid Mohamed said in the ruling last week that it isn't necessary for Muslims to do exactly as the Prophet Muhammad did.

"Islam is not about turbans and beards. The pagan Arabs wore turbans and kept beards. It was quite natural for the Prophet, born into the community, to do the same," the judge said.

Even in Malaysia, very few religious clerics and hardly any Shariah Court judges wear a turban, he said, adding that the Prophet also rode a camel but "does that make riding a camel a more pious deed than traveling in an airplane?"

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, said the judge should have been more restrained in his comments since he is not an expert on Islam.

"Parts of what he said insults and belittles Islamic teachings," PAS youth chief Salahuddin Ayub said. "We want the Federal Court judgment to be reviewed. According to our religious teaching, wearing a turban is part of the Islamic way of life."

Malaysia's civil and criminal codes are based on secular laws, but its Muslim majority also must adhere to a separate set of Islamic laws covering issues such as inheritance, births and deaths, marriage and divorce.