Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We received a video showing a woman who is trying a prayer ritual in a temple as part of a visit to the house of worship of other religion. Regardless of whether it happened in Malaysia or not, the important thing is understanding the ruling related to it for it involves the limitations of the faith of a Muslim.
The instrument used by the woman is used in fortune telling ritual. What can be observed from the video is a ritual known as kau cim. It is found in most temples everywhere around the world. It involves a person shaking a container with small bamboo sticks until one of the sticks is flung out. Fortunes are written on every stick which will then explained by an oracle. 
There is another instrument in the video known as Pwak Pwee. It is also known as Jiaobei which is a ritual which includes two sticks shaped like a crescent which is thrown on the ground or land, before asking for guidance from the deity and others. The answer is determined according to how the stick lands on the ground, front facing (open) or back facing (closed). When one of the sticks is open and the other close then the answer is Shi Pui which means agreement or positive. When both of the sticks are open, it means the deities are laughing, however this means a negative. When both of the sticks are close, it means the deity is angry and the answer is Ba Pui, which has a negative meaning. 
The Ruling of Fortunetelling
Fortunetelling is an act of predicting the future or matters of the unseen which is unknown to a person. Fortunetelling is prohibited for only Allah SWT has the knowledge of the unknown. Allah SWT state:
وَعِنْدَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ
“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him.”
Surah al-An’am (59)
In another verse, it is stated:
قُلْ لَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
Say, "None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah,”
Surah al-Naml (65)
Allah SWT clearly commanded the believers to avoid fortune-telling:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَنْ تَسْتَقْسِمُوا بِالْأَزْلَامِ ذَلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ
“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience.”
Surah al-Maidah (3)
According to Syeikh Mustafa al-Maraghi, the above verse regarding the prohibition of divination meant it is prohibited to ask for an unknown knowledge determined for someone based on arrows as practised by the Arabs. See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 6/52.
The same is stated in another verse:
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.”
Surah al-Maidah (90)
(الْأَزْلَامُ) according to Ibnu Abbas, Mujahid, Ata’, Sa’id ibnu Jubair, al-Hasan and others said the arrow (is without a fletching and a nock) is used for divination as narrated by Ibnu Abu Hatim. See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3/161.
The word (الرِّجْسُ) according to Imam Fakhruddin al-Razi literally means something that is seen or considered as dirty or disgusting. Stating that it is among the practise of shaytan completes the meaning of the act that is seen or considered as dirty or disgusting for the shaytan itself is najis (religiously considered as impure) and khabith (bad/filthy/nasty). See Mafatih al-Ghaib, 12/423.
Tasyabbuh (Resembling) the Worship of Disbelievers
The Prophet PBUH prohibit us from resembling the disbelievers. The Prophet PBUH said in a hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma:
مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
“He who copies any people is one of them.”
Sunan Abu Daud (4031)
According to the above hadith, a Muslim is prohibited from imitating or resembling the style, action, clothing especially the religious eminence/symbol or celebration that could lead to misunderstanding of others which resemble other religions.
Imam al-San’ani Rahimahullah said, the above hadith proves that whoever imitates fasiq people, the disbelievers, or those who commit bid’ah in any matter specified to them in terms of clothing or actions in his self, then he is considered to be among them. See Subul al-Salam, 2/647.
It is also stated in another opinion that tasyabbuh (resembling) also happens internally (in one’s heart) such as i’tiqad or iradat (belief and wants) and external matters in terms of words and actions that is a form of worship or custom. See Faidh al-Qadir, 6/104.
The Ruling of Trying the Ritual of Fortune-Telling
According to the above discussion, we consider the action of the woman is included as a form of tasyabbuh (resemblance) of other religious ritual which is prohibited in Islam. Surely, there are other numerous ways which do not contradict syarak in learning and understanding the matters of other religions. However, we think that the woman does not know about its prohibition. We suggest for the public to stop spreading the video of the woman for:
- It will lead to misgivings and negative perception.
- It is degrading.
At the same time, we would like to remind the Muslim ummah to try their best to avoid anything that could lead to fitnah and accusation. This in accordance with Islamic legal maxim:
اتَّقُوا مَواضِعِ التُّهَمِ
“You should be careful towards matters that lead to accusations.”
This maxim is taken from the words of Saidina Umar RA:
مَنْ سَلَكَ مَسَالِكَ التُّهَمِ اتُّهِمَ
“Whoever take the road that could lead to suspicion, then he will be accused.”
Whatever that has a risk towards fitnah should be avoided the best we could for it will have a negative impact on us whether it is in short or long term.
Hopefully, we all could contemplate on the importance of protecting and maintaining the limitations set in our aqidah in our daily lives. Wallahua’lam.