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Seek religious authorities advice first before organising Kuda Kepang performance, says Johor Islamic affairs rep

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

JOHOR BARU, Feb 18 — Johor Islamic Affairs Committee chairman Mohd Fared Mohd Khalid today said that the state government is undertaking additional research to examine and review the suitability of the traditional Kuda Kepang dance performance for public events.

He said this was to ensure that the Kuda Kepang performance does not involve elements of idolatry and worship that could disrupt the faith of Muslims.

"The final review will be carried out by the appointed research organisation which is the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) Batu Pahat.

"After that, the next step would be to get feedback from the state Mufti department,” Mohd Fared told reporters after the state-level Israk Mikraj event held at the Sultan Ibrahim Mosque in Muar last night.

He was responding to several TikTok videos that went viral showing a group involved in a Kuda Kepang dance performance that was believed to contain mystical elements of worship and possession in Tangkak.

The Kuda Kepang dance is synonymous with Johor and is known as a popular traditional performance to welcome tourists in the southern state.

Mohd Fared, who is also the Semerah assemblyman urged any Muslim cultural associations to seek the views and advise from the religious affairs office first prior to performing the Kuda Kepang dance at any events.

"I recommend all cultural groups to make the local Kadi’s office in their respective districts as a point of reference before partaking in any performance,” he said.

The Kuda Kepang dance is well-known in Johor and is mainly performed by the local Javanese community, particularly in the districts of Batu Pahat and Muar.

Popular belief points the dance, using a two-dimensional horse, as originating from the famed nine Islamic saints of Javanese lore, popularly called Wali Songo. It narrates the arrival of Islam to Java in the 15th century.

However, over the years the traditional folk dance became entangled in controversy as some alleged it went against Islamic principles due to its promotion of mysticism involving worship and possession.