Monday, October 26, 2009

Nik Aziz, Hadi and Najib: Malay and Muslim Unity?

Nik Aziz calls for EGM to determine whether Hadi, Hasan Ali and Nasharuddin Mat Isa should still be part of the leadership of PAS?

The call for mating between PAS and UMNO has resurfaced again. This call seemed to have irked PAS’s spiritual leader, Nik Aziz so much that he has called for an EGM to settle the matter once and for all. Obviously, he is not happy with the idea of the mating between the two Malay parties and he is also unhappy with Hadi Awang’s leadership of PAS. Nik Aziz writes on his blog:

“Maka pelik apa, kita panggil mesyuarat parti yang tergempar misalnya; mungkin dipanggil muktamar khaslah. Kalau nak kirakan, kitalah yang sepatut buat dulu. Demi “tajdid” kita perlu buat Mesyuarat Agong Luarbiasa ini. Bila Mesyuarat Agong tak mahu tukar Presiden, misalnya maka tidak mengapalah. Kita pakat-pakat belalah. Begitu juga dengan isu-isu disekitar Hassan Ali atau Mustafa Ali yang tak habis-habis dengan nak bekerjasama PAS dengan Umno ke arah kerajaan Perpaduan atau UG. Tenggelam-tenggelam, timbul, kemudian dihidupkan. Kemudian dimatikan pula bila nampak orang marah. Apa ni?”

His views are very clear. He is not happy with the pro-UMNO group in PAS. In fact his writings even hint that if the EGM still endorses Hadi Awang, he may leave PAS –“Kita pakat-pakat bela la”. Those open to the idea of PAS-UMNO Unity talks with the view of “forming a unity government or some working relationship seem to base their call on the noble sounding premise of “Malay and Muslim unity”. Admittedly, this is a very nice label that will touch the sentiments of both Malays and Muslims, especially the ordinary Malay Muslims of this country.

Najib too has commented on the unity government move but was clear to say that the nature of the cooperation has yet to be identified:

“He said that another group of leaders, who was willing to find ways to enhance unity among the ummah, was more inclined towards cooperating with Umno.

"What types of cooperation is not defined but they don't want to see disunity," he said”.

Obviously, any right thinking Muslim or non-Muslim, be they Malaysians or non-Malaysians do not want to see any disunity. People generally are not anarchists. Malaysians generally want to be united so that we can go about peacefully with the arduous task of living.

So what than really distinguishes this form of unity than the larger unity among Malaysians? The quick and simplistic answer which the politicians and the self anointed “Malay and Muslim champions” will give is probably this: “unity of the ummah” or “perpaduan umat”. Now, what is this? What do the politicians mean when they say this?

After all, we must always remember that we are not dealing with true blooded reformers but mere politicians where circumstances have catapulted them to positions of political power.

Unity of the Ummah?

Allow me at the very outset to state that I personally do not for a second believe that the politicians from all sides of the divide truly care about nor have they thought about what “unity of the ummah” really is. I believe (and I stand be corrected) that what they really mean is elitist Malay political unity. Effectively and in realpolitik terms what this means is the strengthening of Malay elitist political dominance in the country, which has nothing really to do with neither the ordinary Malays nor Muslims.

I can support this view simply by pointing out that to date, none of the parties have ever spoken on any Islamic issues or any reforms (tajdid) of “Islamic thinking” in the country when they speak of the so-called “cooperation between two Malay Muslim parties”. The moment you invoke Islam as a basis of unity, you must start from the premise of the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet. And this what Allah says in the Quran:

“And hold fast, all together, to the rope of God, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God's favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brethren; and you were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does God make His Signs clear to you: That you may be guide”d. (Quran: 3.103)

Firstly, Muslims are required to hold onto the “rope of God”. Has both sides of the divide spent some time thinking what this “rope of God” is? Have the leaders, in their respective parties, in true honesty and with thinking knowledge implemented this concept of “rope of God” in its true sense? One thing must be clear, the rope of God does not refer to mere expedient political solidarity. It may include political “unity” but the buck certainly does not stop there. If it did, then, what about the greater number of Muslims who are apolitical? For example, there are greater number of Muslims who are not politically inclined but perform deeds that may fall into the category mentioned in surah 3 verse 104 – the numerous individuals and NGOs who peacefully contribute to the best of their ability?

Further, God says the following:

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity”. (Quran: 3.104)

Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty,- (Quran: 3.105)

The entire of the Quran does not describe differences of views, methods or opinions as disunity. It is the forceful imposition of views and oppression against those with differing views that is strongly condemned as “mischief makers”.

It is very superficial if UMNO was to regard itself as complying with Quran 3:104 simply because it was part of the government that had built many mosques and had aired various TV programs on “Islam”. Likewise, it is misleading of PAS to claim that it has complied with the same verse by giving endless ceramahs, insisting on the hijab for the women, banning alcohol in Shah Alam, etc.

Blind faith in the politicians? Taksub?

Both parties should ask this question: when was the last time they had ever requested for a tajdid of the syariah laws in this country to verify whether it is consistent with the times? More importantly, when did we ever undertake an exercise to determine whether the syariah laws in this country are consistent with the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet? Do the politicians think that the ordinary Muslims do not have a duty to Allah to know this? Or, do the politicians from both sides of the divide expect the citizens to blindly accept (taksub) the politicians’ word that every single law passed with the tag “syaria” must necessarily be consistent with the Quran and the Sunnah?

If PAS and UMNO is genuinely serious about “unity in the name of Islam”, should they then not be equally responsibly mindful of the following verse that affects the ordinary Muslim citizen:

And behold! you come to us bare and alone as We created you for the first time: you have left behind you all (the favours) which We bestowed on you: We see not with you your intercessors whom you thought to be partners in your affairs: so now all relations between you have been cut off, and your (pet) fancies have left you in the lurch!" (Quran: 6:94)

My reading of the above verse tells me that it is incumbent on any responsible Muslim government to explain to the Muslim citizens the basis of any laws passed in the name of God. If “ordinary laws”, are debated heavily in Parliament, why do we not hear of any syariah laws being debated more carefully? Is not the duty to God more onerous?

The Firaun Mindset v Quranic Mindset

The fact is this: our country has yet to see a true reformer of Islamic thought. What we have are graduates who have specialized in “Islamic curricula” who keep repeating what they have learnt in their respective universities from their respective university lectures. They also adhere to an unwritten code of ethics which is common to all disciplines - do not challenge accepted academic thinking. It is a politically correct type of behaviour that is encouraged. This is primarily because of the entrenchment of mainstream thought solidly supported by mainstream institutions. Any alternative thoughts and views are immediately put down and it becomes personally dangerous for any true reformer.

Politicians of the like we have in our midst today are not reformers, especially in matters of faith. True reformers are never inhibited by norms or mainstream thinking. This is because it could very well be that the current patterns of thinking need reform! This requires long term effort. However, politicians often opt for short term measures that span from one election to the next and will not touch on matters that are not politically expedient. Hence, thinking and writing on Islam which may differ from the mainstream is not given prominence.

Do both UMNO and PAS have a Firaun mindset” as follows?

“Said Pharaoh: "Believe you in Him before I give you permission? Surely this is a trick which you have planned in the city to drive out its people: but soon shall you know (the consequences)”. (Quran: 7.123)

"Be sure I will cut off your hands and your feet on apposite sides, and I will cause you all to die on the cross." (Quran: 7.124)

As it is clear from the above verse, matters of faith in Egypt then must be cleared by the Pharaoh or his priests first. It must have his approval and permission. To deviate from Pharaoh’s religion is met with severe punishment since it is a State crime. The exercise of “religious duties and faith” during Pharaoh’s time is through total compulsion with the aid of State apparatus. There is no exercise of mercy, discussions, or differing views. What do you see happening in this country?

We must remember that all the syaria laws and the religious institutions in place today occurred during the Barisan Nasional’s rule. This will give Muslims an idea of BN’s role in “Islamic development” in the country. Further, since PAS has never questioned the syaria law as implemented in this country, they must be taken to acknowledge BN’s role.

PAS’s “Islamic State” v UMNO’s Islamic Malaysia

PAS has been speaking of its aim to establish an Islamic state in the country. Logically, this means that according to PAS, Malaysia is not an Islamic state. If we cut though the rhetoric, we will see that PAS’s idea of an Islamic State appears to be one where the State implements “hudud laws”. PAS sees Islam as a set of legal criminal rulings. It is as simple as that. However, matters may become complicated when we wish to consider what PAS considers as “hudud laws”. Speculations arise because to date PAS has yet to outline its idea of Islamic State!

The sad fact is that many ordinary Muslims do not wish to get into this debate on the excuse that they are “not well versed”. It never seemed to dawn on them that if they do not enter the debate, laws could very well be imposed on them under the tag of “syaria” but deviating from the Quran and Sunnah. This has happened in many so-called “Islamic countries”.

Coming back to PAS, since its inception for more than 50 years, one has to ask what example of “Islam” has it promoted? If we look at Kelantan which has been under PAS rule (Islamic rule?) for decades, can we say that it is a shining example of what “Islamic rule” is all about? How many other countries have come to Kelantan to learn and adopt its model of “Islamic administration”? Surely, if it is truly “Islamic”, it should be a shining example?

Rightly or wrongly, the perception that some Muslims have of PAS is this: it thinks its interpretation of Islam is the divine interpretation. But then again, this has become a common trait among modern day “ulamaks” as opposed to the learned, humble, classical ulemas of the “golden age of Islam”. Matters have become worse when religion is now being abused in the name of politics.

UMNO, on the other hand has declared this country to be an Islamic country. WE must recall that this announcement was first made by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Since then we had two other prime ministers who may not understand where Dr Mahathir was coming from. Hence, looking from purely an UMNO perspective, we need to ask: Do the UMNO members generally believe that Malaysia is an Islamic country? I think if we look at the frequency or the level of discourses held within UMNO on Islam, this question may be easily answered.

I hope I have raised several issues (there are many more) that need to be addressed to understand the nature of the so-called unity government between PAS and UMNO.

Is PAS and UMNO moving towards the direction of a “united ummah” because they are moved by the Quran and the Sunnah and wish to spread “the justice and mercy of Islam” to all Malaysians? Or is this just another political mechanism wrapped in “Islamic” language to promote elitist Malay political solidarity and control?

If the effort is genuine resulting from the awareness of Allah’s injunctions in the Quran, as a Muslim I welcome this move. If this is just a ploy to use religion purely for political ends, may God have mercy on the players involved. Leaders who had used God’s name in vain had been removed from power with humiliation.

"Such as took their religion to be mere amusement and play, and were deceived by the life of the world." That day shall We forget them as they forgot the meeting of this day of theirs, and as they were wont to reject Our signs”. (Quran: 7.51)

“For We had certainly sent unto them a Book, based on knowledge, which We explained in detail,- a guide and a mercy to all who believe”. (Quran: 7:52)

Peace. (as usual, I stand to be corrected, of course).


caleb said...


Thanks. It is an article to think about and it has raised numerous other issues.

peace to you too.

Anonymous said...

Mr Jahaberdeen and readers,

You have throw something for the readers to think.I wish all the people you named them(Nik Aziz, Hadi, Nasharuddin etc)in the article should not lose the opportunity to read your opinion and suggestion.At least they can confirm your points or stay otherwise.

At the end of the day we also doubt whether all these people are doing for the sake of GOD or their own personal agenda or benefit???


Khalid said...

Good write up!
I smell a rat with all this unity talk.Does having many political parties to chose from means disunity? Do differing views mean disunity? Are Americans disunited because they have different political parties? Are Indonesians disunited now under multiparty democracy but united under the dictatorship of Suharto? Were the Egyptians united under Firaun but disunited when Musa challenged Firaun? Is multiparty democracy synonymous with disunity? Should Malays and Malaysians for that matter, have only one political party to chose from like China, for the sake of unity. Btw China and Cuba cracks down on dissidents because the authorities say the dissidents forment disunity.
I say long live true democracy, down with hypocrisy. Malays and Muslims should not be gullible. This unity talk is about prolonging and increasing the dominance of a certain political party and reducing and hopefully dismantling other organisations which refuse to toe their line.Multi party democracy, and having differing views DOES NOT equal disunity, it means having a vibrant community.
On another matter I just wonder if it is right to talk about Islam and Malay in the same breath given that Islam is non racial and certainly non racist.

jon pour do care said...

Salam Bro. Jay,

Well said but sad to say, the unity they are talking about is not about unity for the well being of the Rakyat but it is more on 'Political Survival'of certain individuals ! Itu aje, kan...kan...kan...!

Anonymous said...


"You who believe, obey God and obey the Messenger and those from among you who hold command. If you should quarrel over anything, refer it to God (Quran) and the Messenger (Hadith) if you believe in God and the Last Day; that will be better, and finer in the long run". (Verses 4:59)

So why does not Nik Aziz wants to make peace with fellow muslim brothers? Is that is not the command from God?

Badri said...

It saddens me. Is there no one who fears Judgement Day?

Jahamy said...

Nia sarah,

1. Why Nik Aziz does not agree with the "unity government", only Nik Aziz can answer.

2. I understand that Allah asks ALL to make peace with ALL - whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims.


Anonymous said...

Bukan Sarah yang tanyalah...Carey Hamid.

You do know my real stand when it comes to politic...ZZZzzzz (-.-)