An internationally renowned whiskey brand from Malaysia, TIMAH, came under fire by the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), who said that the brand is insensitive to Muslims, The Star reported.
The mufti for the state of Penang, Wan Salim Wan Noor, called on the government to order the company to change the name of the whiskey, so it does not "trigger the sensitivity of Muslims in the country".
The PAS Ulama Council (an association of religious scholars and teachers) also urged the government on Oct. 18 to shut down the company "to avoid a precedent of new liquor companies emerging," the party's information chief Mohd Nor Hamzah said, as reported by The Star.
Why is TIMAH considered insensitive?
According to the The Star, Wan Salim claimed the word "Timah" was derived from the word "Fatimah", the name of Prophet Muhammad's daughter.
He also added that what made the branding worse was the purported image of "a religious man in a beard and skullcap".
"We hope the country's leaders, particularly those who are Muslim, will also state their opposition towards the insensitivity shown by this alcohol manufacturer," he said.
According to Free Malaysia Today, Wan Salim also argued that most Muslims are not aware of the origins of its name and the identity of the man on the bottle.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad echoed the mufti's sentiment and called on the company to change the name of the whiskey.
According to Malay Mail, Idris said that they "do not agree with the principle of using the ‘Timah’ brand name. What does the company mean by that name? Is there a new normalisation? This is what we are worried about."
Timah: Translation for tin
The whiskey company posted a clarification on its Facebook page on Oct. 15 about "misinformation".
The statement said that "any interpretation of our name unrelated to Malaysian mining is false."
Timah, according to the company's statement, is a local translation for the word "tin".
"The name of TIMAH Whiskey harks back to the TIN MINING ERA during British Malaya," the statement added.
As for the depiction of a bearded, religious man, the company clarified that "the man on our bottle, Captain Speedy, was one of the men who introduced whiskey culture back then."
On its Instagram account dated Apr. 10, TIMAH also posted a piece of trivia regarding Captain Speedy and his connection to Malaya.
Speedy was the Assistant Resident of Perak, and he established and named Malaysia's oldest town Taiping, meaning Heavenly Peace.
TIMAH ended the clarification by stating that "TIMAH is meant to be enjoyed by non-Muslims above the legal alcohol purchasing age."
Netizens unimpressed by the call
In contrast to the criticism from the clerics, some Malaysian netizens were rather less worked up.
Timah means tin. END OF STORY. Why is this even a thing. No Fatimah was hurt in the making of this whiskey, at least as far as I know.— Darsh Kanda (@darshkanda) October 18, 2021
Some Malaysians were also confused as to why there was a big deal over the branding of the whiskey.
Malays are angry about using ‘Timah’ to name a whiskey. What Malays do not understand is PH and BN both consider Malaysia a secular and not an Islamic country. So Malays must accept that they cannot get sensitive over this issue. You cannot have it both ways. So live with it.— Raja Petra Bin Raja Kamarudin (@RajaPetra) October 19, 2021
Others even pointed out there are liquor brands with Arabic script on the bottles in reference to a Muslim poet, Abu Nuwas.
Still kecoh pasal TIMAH? Wait til they find out that liquor in the Middle East has Arabic script on it. Mau gegar satu negara. pic.twitter.com/Nf8yY46AAL— Dean of Deen : (@Mulut_Cabai) October 18, 2021
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Top images via Lim Guan Eng/Facebook and TIMAH/Instagram