Respect the use of animal symbols during Chinese New Year, says Jakim

File photo: A staff poses with a dog-shaped gold figurine at Chow Tai Fook Jewellery store on Dec 14, 2017, ahead of the Lunar New Year of the Dog.

Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) has said that the use of animal symbols and images during Chinese New Year must be respected by everyone.

In a statement on Tuesday (Feb 6), Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha said: “Even though animal symbols are used during Chinese New Year, the concept of co-existence (fiqh taa’yush) dictates that all parties need to respect this practice and maintain harmony between all races.”

“This is in line with Government’s policy of using a wasatiyyah (moderate) approach,” added the statement quoted in The Star. Othman did not specifically name any animal in his comments.

Chinese New Year which falls on Feb 16, marks the start of the Year of the Dog in the Chinese lunar calendar.

In Chinese astrology, each year of the 12-year zodiac cycle is represented by an animal including the dog and pig, which are considered unclean by Muslims.

Othman added that all parties should be wise in understanding the spirit of togetherness to ensure unity among all faiths and ethnicities in Malaysia, reported Malaysiakini.

Jakim’s statement comes on the back of reports that some businesses and malls are scaling back the use of dog images in their Chinese New Year decorations and that some clothing lines have removed dog and pig symbols from the Chinese zodiac.