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Islamic state, actually


PAS delegates lined up to salam with the incoming and outgoing leadership
after the muktamar officially closed on 7 June 2009

WITH PAS, it was never really about “progressives” versus “conservatives”, or “professionals” versus “ulama”. It is, and always has been, about setting up an Islamic state.

And so, given Malaysia’s dramatically shifting political landscape, this is the struggle within PAS: what is the best vehicle to deliver an Islamic state, especially now when the taste of political power is so sweet for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)? Would it be via steadfast cooperation with the PR? Or via negotiations with a much weakened, but still formidable, Umno?

In this sense, the debates during this year’s 55th muktamar were not very different from the debates held during last year’s congress.

Was the idea of cooperating with Umno for the “advancement” of Islam not mooted last year? It was.

Did delegates and party leaders not affirm, however, that PAS’s allegiances were with the PR? They did.

Were PAS’s grassroots convinced then, as they are now, that they have the capacity to not only form a coalition, but to lead federal government after the next general election? They were.

And did deputy spiritual leader Datuk Dr Harun Din not chastise the anti-Umno, “Erdogan” camp for not respecting the ulama? He did.

The only thing different about this year’s muktamar was that the party saw contests for some very high-ranking posts — namely for the deputy and vice-presidencies. And in that sense, we can be forgiven for wondering why the dynamics of the PAS elections so closely mirrored that of the Umno party elections in March 2008. The Umno elections, too, saw contests for nearly all high-ranking positions except for the presidency, which Datuk Seri Najib Razak, like his PAS counterpart Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, effectively won unopposed.

The difference between PAS and Umno’s elections, though, is this: the contest in Umno was symptomatic of an embattled party still entertaining delusions of grandeur. The infighting in Umno seems motivated by blame — people are offering themselves for leadership, therefore, to restore the party to its rightful, pre-March 2008 glory.

PAS, on the other hand, is actually a very powerful party whose grassroots are resenting having to kowtow to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the DAP within the PR. They want, and are confident the party can get, more.

And it is this unique position that is giving PAS an edge when it makes its political bargains now — when the party flexes muscles, it makes both Umno, and its PR partners jump.


A view of the stage where the delegates were seated

Islamic state paramount

Yet, despite its undeniable momentum, the party seems afraid. Delegates at this year’s muktamar repeatedly lamented that the party was leaving Islam behind in its quest for federal power. Again, this was a familiar complaint at last year’s muktamar.

Incumbent central working committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad says that this is merely the party’s “fear of success”. Last year, however, he told The Nut Graph that some quarters of the party were getting too big for their own boots. Back then, he said that harping on the Islamic state agenda would end up with PAS getting a “bloody nose” at the next general election.

Dzulkefly’s caution last year represents what endeared him and his allies within PAS — the “professionals” — to multiracial supporters of the PR. These were, as many pointed out, the “liberals” in PAS. Consisting of personalities such as Dzulkefly, Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad, and defeated deputy president candidate Datuk Husam Musa, they were staunch PR supporters and talked about democracy, multiculturalism and human rights.

This is the group that favours a “soft” approach to Islam. This faction, for example, opposes the BN government’s ban on the use of the word Allah in church services and Christian publications. It is thus willing to make certain multicultural concessions in the interest of attracting wider support for its overarching Islamic goals. It does not even want to mention the phrase “Islamic state” in its outreach campaigns. In its rhetoric, at least, the substance of the “Islamic state” is more important than the form.

And then there is the faction that favours a “hard” approach — namely the faction that is open to negotiating with Umno in the interest of Islam and Malay Malaysian rights. Judging from this year’s debates, this is probably the faction that wants the BN government to maintain the 30% quota for bumiputera equity.

But at the end of the day, both factions within PAS are united by a common goal: finding the best and most sustainable way to set up an Islamic state. And going by recent developments — from the party’s leadership right down to its grassroots delegates — neither the “progressives” nor the “conservatives” have ever abandoned the Islamic state agenda.

For example, as Husam demonstrated in January 2009 in his public debate with current Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, even the “liberals” would defend hudud if push came to shove. And Husam’s slip was not the only example of the kind of Islamic state the party wants. Even the division that “liberal” Khalid leads, Shah Alam PAS, during this year’s muktamar called for the women’s rights organisation Sisters in Islam to be “investigated” and “rehabilitated” by the National Fatwa Council.


The crowd still packed the hall on the last day of the muktamar

Whose and which Islam?

And so, it is an amazing sight to see the party’s grassroots merge so swiftly when it comes to addressing those who disagree with the Islamic state agenda. PAS Kota Raja Member of Parliament Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud says the party is very unlike Umno in this sense. She says the grassroots, especially, will decide what is best in the interest of Islam — and she is right. This is probably why it is much easier for PAS leaders who are at loggerheads to reconcile, compared to those in Umno. Deep down, PAS leaders know that they are all struggling for that altruistic Islamic state.

And given recent political developments, it is easy to sympathise with PAS. For instance, new Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has cracked down on many an activist and PR politician, including PAS leaders and supporters. The humiliation that embattled Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin has suffered at the hands of the Umno-linked media is astounding.

But this does not remove the need for citizens to ask PAS some difficult questions now. Namely, why does the party’s leadership still insist on keeping its Islamic doors to Umno open despite being criticised so badly, including from within the party?

More importantly, PAS needs to be asked, point blank, what it really envisions as its ideal government, whether or not it calls it an “Islamic state”. The questions must go beyond such easy-to-fudge concepts as “democracy” and “good governance”.

What will the party’s position be on apostasy? On the religious conversion of minors? On homosexuality and bisexuality? On moral policing? On concert banning? On the rights of other religious communities? On turning personal sins for Muslims — not going to the mosque on Fridays or not fasting during Ramadan, for example — into crimes against the state? On the status of “deviant sects“? On marital rape? On polygamy in Islam?

PAS delegates and leaders have been using the metaphor of marriage ad nauseum to describe their position within the PR. In these analogies, party leaders joke about polygamy as though it is second nature and desirable in many circumstances.

Is it any surprise then if PAS feels it can stay married to its PR partners and court Umno at the same time — especially if consummation of these marriages gives birth to an Islamic state?

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25 Responses to “Islamic state, actually”

  1. siew eng says:

    Where are the women in the pictures?

  2. Well, what did you expect? It’s an Islamic party that believes in polygamy. They’re just looking for their “third wife” after PKR and DAP.

  3. Sharani says:

    I am very uncomfortable with these pics in a multi-racial and multi-religious country. It reminded me of Taliban (sigh).

  4. JohnTan says:

    I always knew that PAS can never be trusted. Only the DAP is desperately seeking their coalition. Nik Aziz is okay but remember he cannot be forever living. Someone will take over. Eat your heart out now, DAP and PKR – you are all power money and power. What Karpal Singh warned was right all this while!

  5. tkwah says:

    Our founding fathers did not agree on establishing an Islamic state where all people of all races and religion can co-exist in harmony to build a peaceful and prosperous nation.

    It could be a national tragedy of unsurpassed proportions for all Malaysians, if we end up like a “failed state” like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where their “practice” of syariah law has not led to peace and harmony, but instead has bred bloodshed, violence and tyranny towards women and people of other faiths.

    It is time for all non-Muslim supporters of PKR and the DAP to wake up to the reality of current Malaysian politics and the edge of treachery that they may be treading on when they engage PAS.

    Of course, they must also remember that Umno is of the same yoke as PAS.

  6. Sharani says:

    Nik Aziz is okay. But he won’t live forever. So don’t vote for him but vote for the party which could bring democracy to our country.

  7. BSJT says:

    Being an Islamic state will be huge step backwards for Malaysia, socially and economically, we’ll see resistance from non-Muslims, anarchy and the idea of hardcore Islamism will chase away investors. Democracy will be stifled, women’s rights will be trampled (starting from Sisters of Islam), education standards will drop. Malaysia is disconnecting with the west and the world. I can’t imagine if this scenario comes true. Sigh.

  8. aidan says:

    Wow, great piece! Rather scary about how PAS wants to achieve its goals. By polygamy, it can marry anyone anytime (PKR, DAP, even BN, or whoever / whatever which serves its purpose) and divorce them anytime (when they’re no longer needed). Sounds like an unfaithful man!

  9. attack says:

    Looks like most readers here prefer to attack the religion rather than the persons who navigate PAS. You all end up provoking the Muslims and Malays, ending up uniting the Malays, which is what BN intended. There goes GE13.

  10. Zedeck says:

    Hello attack:

    “Looks like most readers here prefer to attack the religion rather than the persons who navigate PAS.”

    I’m confused — I don’t see any of comments before yours actually disparage Islam as a faith … Are you sure you are not making the fallacy of confusing PAS with Islam, yourself?

  11. Nehemiah says:

    If PAS marries a prostitute (corrupt Umno) in order to produce godly children (Islamic state), then it is making a fatal mistake.

    By marrying Umno, PAS will end up being bought for money, power, position and be morally corrupt. Not that it is not already morally corrupt by talking about unity with Umno.

    What does this say about Islamic practitioners in Malaysia? That they are willing to use unjust means (power and alliances with whoever) to achieve a just end (Islamic state)?

    Solution: Members and leaders of PKR and DAP who do not trust PAS should form a third party to flush out the extremists. Then come GE13, voters will have a better choice in seeing three parties begging for our votes instead of jumping from one ship to another.

  12. attacka says:

    To Zedeck,

    If you can recall, there two sides of a coin, even though, when someone gives you a coin, showing one side, of course, that person won’t be telling you what he/she had intended to mean was the other side of the coin. Go figure.

  13. Zedeck says:

    Hello attacka:

    Hm. While I appreciate your command of metaphor, I’m not sure as to what you’re trying to say …

    I’m guessing that you’re trying to say that, when comments blast PAS, they are really blasting Islam. But that would just be conjecture on your part, wouldn’t it? As much as I’m assuming — without proof — that this is what you’re saying.

  14. attacka says:

    To Zedeck.

    PAS = Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party or the Islamic Party of Malaysia (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia). Go figure.

  15. Zedeck says:

    Hello attacka:

    I’m sorry: you’ve asked me to “go figure” twice, but you’re still being a little opaque, here.

    Anyway, is your stating of the obvious meant to lead me to conclude that, yes, an attack on PAS is an attack on Islam? That’s like saying: “An attack on Umno is an attack on Malays!”, isn’t it?

  16. kamal says:

    We should hand it to PAS, they have never lied to anyone about their intentions to create an Islamic state. Agree or disagree with their politics, they are at least honest to the public and this includes their grassroots. The challenge for people who may be skeptical as to what an Islamic state entails, let’s ask them for clarification.

  17. Hong says:

    Does this mean if I start a political party tomorrow called the Teapot Party of Malaysia (Parti Teko Se-Malaysia), I can lay claim to all the people who pour their tea from pots? And if I should issue a statement to the effect that these teapots be used exclusively to brew Darjeeling tea – the only true tea in the world – and people tell me I’m being unreasonable, I should take that to mean they are attacking teapots? Best not provoke the teapot users!

  18. arah says:

    Why anyone should worried if we have in PAS leaders with the following example?

    One day, the closest Companion of the Holy Prophet Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam, Saiyidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq @ The Truthful One, Radhiallahu Anhu (May Allah be pleased with him) visited the home of his daughter, Saiyidatina Aishah, Radhiallahu Anha (May Allah be pleased with her), the widow of the Blessed Messenger (SAW). Abu Bakar asked Aishah, ” O my child, is there any habit of my beloved (Prophet) that I have yet to carry on?”

    Aisyah replied, ” Dear Father, you are verily a follower of the Sunnah (Habits) of the Prophet and there is none that you have yet to do except for one deed only!” ” What is that?” asked Abu Bakar. “Every morning, the Prophet of Allah will go to the end of the marketplace, bringing food to a blind old Jewish beggar who lives there and feed him by his hand,” said Aishah.

    The next day, Abu Bakar As Siddiq went to the marketplace with food for the blind beggar. Abu Bakar As Siddiq approached the beggar and started to feed him. At the first handful of food being fed to him, the blind Jewish beggar became angry and shouted out ,” Who are you?” Abu Bakar answered ” I am the one who usually feeds you every morning”.

    “No! Don’t you lie to me!” objected the blind beggar. Abu Bakar was shocked, thus he asked” Why do you say so?” Answered the blind Jewish beggar, “Because when he comes to me, I always felt it easy to hold his hand and found it easy to chew the food he fed me! The man who used to feed me would make the food fine before feeding it to me!”

    Abu Bakar As Siddiq could not hold back his tears anymore and he burst out crying and had to disclose who he actually was to the beggar. “Verily, I am not the one who used to come and feed you.

    I am one of his Companions for the noble one is alive no more! He was none other than the Blessed Prophet of Allah, Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam!” “Muhammad?” asked the blind old Jewish beggar, totally shocked with what he had just heard. “You mean to tell me that the one who came each morning without fail and fed me by his hand was Muhammad?” asked the beggar. “Yes! It was Muhammad!” answered Abu Bakar. Immediately, the blind old Jewish beggar wailed out in despair and cried so pitifully coming to realise that it was none other than the Holy Prophet who had been feeding him all this while. “All this while!…all this while, I had been cursing him, I had been slandering him! Not once has he ever scolded me ! He kept coming every morning to feed me! He is so noble!..” cried the old blind Jewish beggar as he wiped away his flowing tears on his cheeks.

    The blind beggar reached out to Saiyidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq, the first Caliph of the Muslims and testified before him the Kalimah Shahadah :’Ash har doo Allah ila ha ill lall Lah! Wa ash har doo anna Muhammad darr Rasulullah!’ declaring that There is No God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah! From that moment onwards, the blind old Jewish beggar became a Muslim.

  19. tebing tinggi says:

    Don’t just pay obeisance to PAS and its leadership, forgetting that PAS leaders are also human beings. They are not saints – greed for power and money are part of human nature.

    PAS are not in the position like Umno yet (well they can’t do anything much yet!) but the days are yet to come.

    What we can tell from the past is that they were calling each other kafir as political labeling.

  20. attacka says:

    Hi Zedeck,

    Maybe you should try condemned OIC first in order to get your answer.

    Go figure … if someone were to say Chinese Years of Civilization in respect of women is full of orgies, adultery, cheating … what would have been your response? Go figure again … I don’t think you’ll be offended. Because that someone is not talking about Chinese people, just their history. Am I right?

  21. racist says:

    To Zedeck,

    There is so much racism in your comment in reply to attacka. Why do you have to bring in the word “Malay”? Such bigotry.

  22. Alibaba says:

    Indonesia with 95% Muslim is not an Islamic state.

    Malaysia with 60% Muslim wants an Islamic state?

    Must be the sponsor (Umno) that got the muktamar to create the talk.

  23. Isma says:

    As Muslims, we do not recognise woman as equal to man, that is why no pictures of woman.

  24. Angela M. Kuga Thas says:

    It’s time to vote for individuals who are concerned about substance (human rights, multiculturalism, democracy, compassion) rather than form and structure (force, discrimination, draconian). Why rely on parties with pretentious “holier than thou” attitudes? The issue is not about Islam but the type of government we want.

  25. racist says:

    This attacka is responding racially to Zedeck’s remarks…. this will go on and on… wonder who is to be blamed… the one who started it first or the one responding to it.. or both.. but if someone did not start it first, it wouldn’t have happened….. really wonder…


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