KUALA LUMPUR – Leader of the deviant “Sky Kingdom” cult, Ayah Pin, died in his hometown in Terengganu last night.
Ayah Pin, whose real name was Ariffin Muhamad, died at his home in Kampung Batu 13 in Hulu Besut, Besut around 8.30pm.
According to a police report lodged by his wife, Che Jaharah Awang, 56, the-74-year-old died due to old age and in the presence of family members.
She also claimed there was no criminal element to his death.
He was buried at a cemetery near his home this morning.
At the height of his popularity in early 2000s, the self-proclaimed God who claimed to have direct contact with the heavens, reportedly had more than 50 followers and four wives.
The Sky Kingdom commune was reportedly formed in the 1980s but its buildings â€“ a giant teapot, vase, umbrella and concrete boat â€“ were erected in Besut in 1995.
In 1997, the Terengganu fatwa council issued a fatwa against the group.
Ayah Pin denounced Islam in 2001 and was charged with â€œbelittling Islamâ€ that same year. He was sentenced to 11 monthsâ€™ jail and fined RM2,900.
Despite that, the Sky Kingdom cult continued to grow, attracting new followers in the form of university students and Orang Asli.
In 2005, before the Sky Kingdom buildings were demolished by officials from the Besut Land Office, a group of masked men attacked the premises. More than 50 of the banned cultâ€™s followers were arrested as well as three of Ayah Pinâ€™s wives.
Ayah Pin, however, escaped arrest and remained a fugitive until he died. – Astro Awani