Kuala Lumpur: Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, a moderate Malaysian Islamic spiritual leader who studied in India and gained popularity for his advocacy for harsh Islamic criminal punishment in the multi-faith country, has died.
Nik Aziz died from?prostate cancer?in his?home in Kota Baru in northern Malaysia late yesterday at the age of 84. He was buried today.
His wife Sabariah Tuan Ishak, 10 children along with thousands of people attended a funeral in northeastern Kelantan state for Nik Aziz, popularly known as "Tok Guru" or "the teacher."
An Islamic scholar who studied at Darul Uloom Deoband University in Uttar Pradesh before taking up Quran studies in Pakistan. He also obtained a degree in Arabic studies as well as a masters of arts in Islamic law from Egypt.
Nik Aziz was a top leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), a member of the three-party opposition alliance. He helped keep his party in the alliance amid calls from conservative members to leave the bloc.
He was respected for maintaining the party's appeal to the Muslim ethnic Malays who constitute more than 60 per cent of Malaysia's population.
His death is the second big blow to the Opposition, after alliance leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed for five years on Tuesday for sodomy.
In 1986, Nik Aziz became a legislator of Kelantan state, where he was born. Later in 1990, he was appointed chief minister of the state, which is the most poverty-striken state in the country.
Duringh his 23-year rule as Kelantan chief minister, Nik Aziz banned gambling, alcohol, nightclubs, unisex salons and massage places. He has also said women attracted social ills by wearing skimpy clothing.
Despite his calls for huddud -- criminal punishments including severing of limbs for theft - his humble lifestyle won him respect and he was viewed as a moderate leader.
Nik Aziz resigned in 2013 after the general elections due to poor health.