By Farish A. Noor
As if this country doesn’t have enough problems to worry about, what with the impending global recession, Malaysia’s inevitable slowdown and the fear of capital flight from the country and the region as a whole; now we have to deal with the very real and somewhat nasty prospect of an Islamic state being smuggled through the back door (apologies for the metaphor!) while the Islam Hadhari ship of state remains stuck in the doldrums of non-governance.
According to The Star’s report today (30th July 2008), the Spiritual Leader (Murshid’ul Am) of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, has stated that ‘PAS will propose the implementation of Hudud Law and Qisas (law of retaliation) if the proposed PAS-UMNO merger becomes a reality’.
That, of course, is precisely what Malaysia needs at the moment and it is bound to be the ultimate cure for all our economic and structural-institutional ills. One can imagine the miraculous transformation of the Malaysian economy instantaneously, and the hordes of eager foreign investors who will be falling over themselves in their mad rush to invest in Malaysia as soon as we start implementing Islamic law and imposing Hudud punishments.
What is even more startling is the simple fact that the simple-minded people in UMNO seem to be playing with fire without taking into account the attendant risk that one can get burned, sometimes severely. Malaysia’s Islamisation experiment began in the 1980s with both UMNO and PAS trying to out-Islamise each other, while struggling for the same Malay-Muslim vote base. Now this grotesque war of ideas has taken on tragic-comic proportions and the Islamic revolution, so to speak, is about to devour its own children.
For jaded cynics like myself who have had enough with politicians soiling the pages of holy books and defiling religion for the sake of realpolitik, this is the straw that has broken this camel’s back. I have seen religio-politics gone badly wrong all over Asia: at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists in India, Buddhist fundamentalists in Sri Lanka, Muslim fundamentalists in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The thought that three decades of development can only bring us to this, a watered-down toothless Islam Hadhari with no critical acumen and reconstructive potential and an Islamic state being snuck in via the Trojan horse of a Malay-Unity merger between PAS and UMNO reeks to the heavens of majoritarian supremacy more than anything else.
So, before I pack up my books again and head off to saner climes, I would like to ask the wise men of PAS these questions:
1. What, in the respected opinion of the esteemed men of knowledge who lead PAS, is the correct Hudud punishment for someone who kills a Mongolian model and then has her blown to bits by explosives (C4, for instance)?
2. In the learned opinion of the respected men of knowledge of PAS, what should an Islamic PAS-UMNO government do with weapons that were bought from Russia, a state that was known for its rather nasty habit of murdering Muslim Chechnyans?
3. Would the wise men of PAS consider buying some more armaments from our beloved Russian allies in the future when they come to power as the bedfellows of UMNO, such as, perhaps, used Kalashnikovs or other weapons of destruction that were perhaps also used to kill Muslims in Chechnya too?
4. The UMNO-led government has been praised by Washington as a key strategic ally in the ‘War on Terror’ and its leaders have demonstrated their eagerness to work with other developed Western powers in this war. PAS, on the other hand, declared the Taliban to be their brothers in 2002. Will the new PAS also join hands with UMNO in the great Washington-led Crusade against Islamic terror when they come to power?
5. PAS in the past condemned the UMNO-led government for its alleged dealings with Israel. If PAS comes to power, will the learned wise elders of PAS find the necessary scriptural sources to help promote further dealings with Israel too?
6. Between 2004 to 2008, the wise men of PAS declared that Islam Hadhari was fundamentally un-Islamic and when PAS came to power in several states in 2008 it even declared that it would no longer help promote the idea of Islam Hadhari. Now that PAS may be on the threshold of its new honeymoon period with its beloved UMNO, will PAS finally admit the error of its ways and accept that Islam Hadhari is indeed the truest expression of normative Islam and do its utmost to promote Islam Hadhari to its own misguided followers?
7. PAS’s leaders have claimed that they wish to further the Islamic cause by getting closer to power. Will they now help to Islamise the Internal Security Act and other repressive laws to show that the ISA is, after all, compatible with Islam (especially Islam Hadhari)?
8. When PAS ousted its fourth President Asri Muda at the PAS assembly of 1982, its new Ulama leaders condemned Asri as a ethno-nationalist who sold the party to UMNO and debased its Islamist ideology with ideas of racial communitarianism. Now will the same leaders of PAS please apologise to the departed Asri Muda and accept that Asri was right after all, and that the Ulama’s ideology of Islamism was in fact an abberation that confused the minds of Muslims?