Insults, insults, and yet more insults

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Some ‘religious’ leaders have decreed that Malaysia Today, in particular its editor, has insulted Islam. Well, under the Hudud law, one of the Islamic laws, this crime is called blasphemy and the punishment for blasphemy is death and confiscation of property. This is the same as the punishment for the crime of apostasy, those who desert Islam and join another religion.

I suppose Malaysia will now have to consider whether it would like to implement laws from the Koran such as Hudud or continue with its British (a.k.a. ‘kafir’) laws. If Malaysia chooses Islamic laws over the present judicial system, then I suppose my goose is cooked. They will have to chop off my head in a public square such as Dataran Merdeka in full view of the rakyat and whatever little I have to my name will now become the property of the rakyat.

Blasphemy and apostasy (Irtidad or Riddah) are crimes punishable under Hudud. I will gladly offer my neck for my head to be chopped off on condition that they declare I am to be tried under Hudud and that I will be tried alongside the apostates and that we all suffer the punishment of beheading. If not, then leave my head where it is.

Anyway, what is interesting is the man who proclaimed me guilty of blasphemy, the one-time Grand Imam of the National Mosque whom I have once said to be steeped in corruption. In fact, many a maintenance contractor has come forward to state that it is impossible to get contacts from the National Mosque unless the mosque caretakers are paid a commission.

And the National Mosque is not the only institution Malaysia Today has identified as corrupt. The Terengganu Religious Department, the Pilgrims Fund (Tabung Haji), and so on, have all been listed as amongst the most corrupt.

What is mind-boggling is the fact — as one-time Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was fond of saying — those whose turbans are too tight it restricts the flow of blood to the brain cannot understand that it is not Islam that I am insulting but the so-called religious leaders. They wear the garb and headgear of religious people — aping the way Prophet Muhammad used to dress in his time — but are actually corrupt to the core. They prohibit mosques from reading their own sermons and insist that only those of the religious department are read — or else the imam would be removed — but the religious department sermons are full of crap.

What is the real insult to Islam are the sermons the religious department churns out and the way they force it down the throats of the congregation during Friday prayers. Anyway, Malaysia Today is going to continue hitting out at those fakes and snake-oil merchants in Pusat Islam and the religious departments so they had better get used to it.

While on the subject of insults, there is going to be a contest for the Deputy Presidency of Parti Keadilan Rakyat this weekend. The incumbent is Dr Syed Husin Ali, one-time President of Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM), while the challenger is Abdul Rahman Othman, the one-time Deputy President of Parti Keadilan Nasional (keADILan).

Anwar Ibrahim has indicated he would like to see a no-contest for the two top posts of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, a merger between keADILan and PRM. He, however, will not forbid a contest as it is the democratic right of the members of any political party to challenge any and all posts in the party. But since the agreement between keADILan and PRM is that each would take the posts of President and Deputy respectively, it would be better if there was no contest to honour the spirit of the agreement.

Well, Abdul Rahman Othman is not taking this ‘advice’ from the Advisor to the party, a sort of slap in the face for Anwar. The members have some mixed feelings about this though. Some feel it would be an insult to Anwar if Rahman was to go ahead with the challenge. Others feel that the merger is wrong in the first place so why hand the post of the Deputy President to Dr Syed Husin on a sliver platter? If he wants the post, then make him fight for it and if he wins then well and good, but if he does not then too bad.

Many from both sides of the fence are in fact against the merger. Hassan Karim, a PRM ‘strong man’ has already left the party in protest against the merger. In Kelantan, almost the entire state leadership left the party and have applied to join the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS).

The Kelantan group said that keADILan is not that Islamic anymore since it has now merged with a ‘Communist’ party so they want to go join a true Islamic party, PAS. This is the flimsiest excuse I have ever heard. How can they say PAS is a true Islamic party when Prophet Muhammad never set up or headed a political party in his entire life? In fact, if Prophet Muhammad had set up a political party and had contested in a General Election he would have lost because the majority in Mekkah then were against him.

For all intents and purposes, the present parliamentary and election system that we have is based on the British Westminster system, what PAS at one-time used to call a ‘kafir’ system. Nevertheless, PAS still participates in the elections because that is the only route to power available to it. Once it forms the federal government it can then start thinking about how to change the system to something more Islamic.

So, what is the real reason those keADILan leaders from Kelantan deserted the ‘Communist’ keADILan to join the true-blue Islamic party, PAS? Why, because of positions of course. Take the Kelantan Wanita Head as one example. For three years she was a councillor in the Kota Bharu Town Council, earning more than RM1,000 a month. After three years they decided to rotate the posts and give others a chance to sit in the council. As soon as she was dropped she merajuk (sulked) and left the party, as did some other Kelantan state leaders who also lost their positions and monthly income.

When they were able to enjoy positions and salaries, keADILan was Islamic enough for them. Now that they no longer enjoy positions and a monthly income, keADILan is suddenly a Communist party. Their so-called perjuangan Islam (Islamic struggle) can be measured in Ringgit.

The post of Wanita Head will also be challenged. Animah Ferrar, the Wanita Selangor Chief, will be challenging incumbent, Fuziah Salleh. This will be the second time around that Animah is taking on Fuziah. The Deputy Wanita Head’s post will also see a contest. Zainon Jaafar will be challenging incumbent Irene Fernandez, also the second time around.

In a way, the contests for the top posts shows that the party is quite independent of Anwar and though Anwar has indicated he would rather see a smooth transition they are going ahead with the contests anyway. One must look at it positively rather than perceive it as an insult to Anwar.

Anwar, in fact, has to be extremely careful with what he says, now that he is a free man. When he was in incarceration, many ‘gave him face’ due to the overwhelming sympathy on what he had to endure. But now that he is free, this sympathy factor has reduced. People are now judging him on what he is currently doing and what he used to do when in the government. For example, Anwar’s present anti-ISA stand is being pooh-poohed and many are pointing out to the fact that Anwar did not oppose it when he had the power to do so; that is, when he was the Deputy Prime Minister.

Anwar can argue that he did indeed oppose the ISA, but he of course had to do so behind closed doors and not publicly since he was part of the government and could certainly not openly oppose any government policies. But such arguments are not good enough. Islam stipulates that if you see an injustice, then oppose it with your hands (physically resist it). If you are not able to oppose it with your hands, then oppose it with your mouth (speak out against it). And if you are still not able to oppose it with your mouth, then it is your Islamic duty to oppose it with your heart (despise it). However, those who only dare oppose it with their hearts are the weakest of Muslims.

Anwar can be believed if he opposed the ISA and other injustices only with his heart while in the government because his government position would disallow open dissent. But this would certainly reflect on his ‘weak’ Islamic credentials. A ‘strong’ Muslim would have left the government in disgust and would have refused to be associated with any injustices perpetuated by the government.

This is the present argument and not only those opposed to Anwar but even those who support him as well are getting wary of what he says in public. They feel Anwar must demonstrate consistency, and if it appears like he is changing his tune just because he is now outside the government, whatever he says would be taken with a pinch of salt.