Prof. Dr. Din Syamsuddin chief of the Muhammadiyah, Indonesia`s second largest Islamic organization

JAKARTA – The accusation by a Malaysian mufti that the Emotional and Spiritual Quotient (ESQ) leadership training institution is haram (forbidden by Islam) is based on a misperception and misunderstanding, Din Syamsuddin, chief of the Muhammadiyah, Indonesia`s second largest Islamic organization, said.

“In my view, the accusation leveled at ESQ is highly deplorable and regrettable. As far as I know, there is no reason to state that the institution has given misleading and haram teachings,” Din Syamsuddin said here on Monday.

Din made the remarks following a meeting with ESQ President Director Ary Ginanjar at the Office of the Muhammadiyah Executive Board here.

The Muhammadiyah chief said none of the ESQ leadership training programs deviated and violated Islamic tenets so that there was no reason for any other party to state the training institution was haram.

On the contrary, he considered the institution very important to improve human resources, particularly in Indonesia which was in dire need of quality human resources.

“ESQ has been acceptable to the middle to upper classes in the community and many politicians and bureaucrats have become its alumni. I support the ESQ,” he said.

He asked the ESQ executive board to hold intensive dialogs with the Malaysian mufti to explain the institution in details.

“Dialogs with the Malaysian mufti and ulema are necessary and a must. I myself suggest the ESQ executive board to hold such dialogs,” he said.

What was more, the ESQ once taught or encouraged people of other religion to convert to Islam, he said.

Meanwhile, Ary Ginanjar said the accusation had had a negative impact on the institution as well as on its alumni who numbered more than one million.

“Admittedly, the impact of the accusation has harmed our interests. Many of our almuni in Malaysia, Brunei and Europe have also been affected,” Ary said.

The Mufti, or professional interpreter of Islamic law, of the Federal Territories of Malaysia Wan Zahidi Bin Wan Teh, issued a fatwa last month banning the training, which he deemed to be a breach of Islamic teachings.

Zahidi was quoted by the Jakarta Post this month as saying that the training “supports liberalism by making free interpretation of the Koran and [supports the concept of] pluralism in religions, which says that all religions are the same and true”.

ESQ combines Islamic teachings with other religious teachings, including Judaism and Hinduism, he was quoted as saying.