The Universiti Teknologi Malaysia has come under fire after education slides claiming that Islam had introduced civility and body cleanliness to the Hindus was leaked on social media on Tuesday (14 June).
The slides were part of the university's Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies module. The slides also claimed that Hindus considered dirt on their body as part of their religious practice to achieve nirvana. There have been calls for sedition charges to be brought against the person who had created the slides.
Another slide alleged that Sikhism was a combination of Hindu and Islam. It also claimed that the founder of Sikhism had a shallow understanding of Islam.
The module was made mandatory for all university students, regardless of their religion, in 2013. The university's Vice Chancellor, Professor Dr Wahid Omar, claimed that the slides were an isolated incident and that a thorough investigation into the teachings of the module will be conducted.
He said the slides were not part of the Massive Open Online Courses, endorsed by the Higher Education Ministry, and did not reflect the true content of the public university's Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies.
"On behalf of UTM, I would like to express our utmost regret and deep remorse for the lack of sensitivity on the part of our lecturers teaching the TITAS subject," he said in a post on the university's Facebook page.
"We are currently conducting a thorough investigation of this incident, and due action will be taken as necessary. We are truly sorry for what has happened," he added.
"What was written on the slides does not reflect the true content and has been presented out of the full context," he said. To ensure such an incident does not recur, he said lecturers will be asked to use ministry-endorsed slides for the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies module.
Academics have also been reminded to be "more vigilant of the language and context in their presentation slides and modules." Experts in Asian Civilisation will also be consulted for input where necessary, Wahid added, according to Malay Mail.
Intolerable for one of Malaysia's oldest public university to make silly mistake
A politician from the Malaysian Indian Congress, Sivarraah Chandran, lambasted the university, saying that the damage had been done because screenshots of the module slides with the university's logo had gone viral on social media.
"It is intolerable for one of the oldest universities in the country to make such a silly and stupid mistake," he said. He said all teaching materials should have been vetted for accuracy, adding that Malaysia is a multi-religious society and that religion is a sensitive matter.
"Those modules that disparage one religion, should have never been allowed. It also shows the type of lecturers we have at our universities, very shallow in their thinking and they do not read widely to broaden their knowledge. They understand very little about other races and religions and always think that they are better off than others," Sivarraah said.
Darshan Singh Dhillon wrote: "The intriguing question is, how could this be a mistake — that too, by an institution of higher learning? The error in question was indeed a material distortion of fact."
Noting that institutions of higher learning predominantly preaches citation of source and accuracy of information, Dhillon said it is difficult to refute the belief of many that the error was a deliberate attempt to ridicule Hinduism and Sikhism.