No deal with PAS

Unless PAS is prepared to abandon its raison d’etre of wanting to establish an Islamic federal administration in the country, I cannot foresee a truely feasible, viable and dynamic administration at Putrajaya if the Pakatan Rakyat manages to oust the Barisan Nasional from power. To say otherwise is to conceal the truth. 

Thomas Lee Seng Hock

That PAS is insistent on its Islamic state agenda should not surprise anyone, since the very fundamental reason it was set up way back in the 1950s was to work for the creation of a government administration based on the spiritual, doctrinal, theological, moral and ethical precepts of Islam.

What should really surprise us is the fact that the party has apparently soften its previously preceived uncompromising adherence to a firm policy without the readily perceived prudence for the feelings and sensitivities of the non-Muslim citizens of the multi-racial, multi-religious, and multi-cultural nation. This is obvious from the fact that it is seen as even prepared to readjust its foundational ideological stance of wanting a full-fledged Islamic governing state to adopt a seemingly watered-down welfare state administration. The new direction, albeit considered a pragmatic political conveniency by many people, was approved and adopted its national general assembly earlier in 2011.

But the so-called new political pragmatism of PAS is, for all intent and purpose, a mere illusion.

The current controversy over the party’s declaration of wanting to implement Islamic rule in the states it controls, i.e. Kelantan and Kedah, with the accompanying proposed imposition of hudud judicious practices, is something inevitable and unavoidable, given the basic nature and character of the Islamic party. Sooner or later, the theoretical and practical considerations of this Islamic agenda must be objectively and honestly dealt with by the component parties of the multi-idelogical alternative coalition Pakatan Rakyat. As the Cantonese saying “Jee um pow tak chi for” (“paper cannot be used to wrap around fire”), so the PAS Islamic idealism and focus will eventually shatter the pretentious peaceful co-existence among the the three Pakatan Rakyat components of the DAP, PKR and PAS.

Being an Islamic party, PAS certainly has a duty to strive for an idealogical political state based on the basic foundation for the religious, political, economical, social, and cultural system that is practised in all Islamic countries which impose the Islamic rule and law.

An Islamic state is essentailly an ideological state, based on the concern for submission (the word being the meaning of Islam) and faithfulness to the seedbeds of the Islamic faith — the Quran and Sunna. Muslims all over the world are clamouring to establish Islamic rule in their communities, to give Allah his rightful place as the Soverign Ruler in their lives and societies. In an Islamic state, the ultimate sovereignty and authority belong to Allah as the Lord of the whole Universe. For the Muslims, Islam is not just a religion per se, but a complete way of life covering every aspect of life, lifestyle, and thoughts.

Hence, it is understandable that those in PAS, in seeking to create and promote an Islamic state in Malaysia, are basically being true and honest to being part of the faithful and the submitted of the global Umma, the universal community of all Allah followers and worshippers. 

Syed Abul A’ala Mawdudi, a Pakistani Sunni journalist, theologian, and political philosopher, and a major 20th century Islamist thinker, summarizes the basic differences between Islamic and secular states as follows:

(1) An Islamic state is an ideological state, whose people are divided into Muslims, who believe in its ideology, and non-Muslims who do not believe.
(2) Responsibility for the policy and administration of an Islamic state rests primarily with Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot undertake or be entrusted with the responsibility of policy-making.

(3) In an Islamic state, there is a marked distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims, but the Islamic Shari`a law guarantees certain specifically stated rights to the non-Muslims, beyond which they are not permitted to meddle in the affairs of the state. However, if they embrace the Islamic faith, they are made equal participants in all matters concerning the state and the government.
Mawdudi’s view represents that of the Hanifites, one of the four Islamic schools of jurisprudence. The other three schools are the Malikites, the Hanbilites (the strictest and most fundamentalist of all), and the Shafi`ites. All four schools agree doctrinally and dogmatically on the basic creeds of Islam but differ in their interpretations of Islamic law which is derived from four sources:

(a) The Qur’an

(b) The Hadith: The collections of Islamic traditions, including sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad as heard and recorded by his contemporaries.

(c) The Al-Qiyas: The legal decision drawn by Muslim jurists based on precedent cases.

(d) The Ijma’ (consensus): The interpretations of Islamic laws handed down by the consensus of reputed Muslim scholars.

Textual laws prescribed in the Qur’an are few. The door is left wide open for prominent scholars versed in the Qur’an, the Hadith, and other Islamic discipline to present their Fatwa (legal opinion and pronouncement).

In an Islamic state, the political head of the state must inevitably be a Muslim, because he is bound by the Shari`a to conduct and administer the state in accordance with the Qur’an and the Sunna. The function of his Cabinet is to assist him in implementing the Islamic principles and adhering to them. Anyone who does not embrace the Islamic faith and ideology cannot be the head of state or a member of the Cabinet. If Malaysia is an Islamic state, Lim Guan Eng would not be qualified to be the Chief Minister of Penang, and there will not be non-Muslims serving as Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Federal Government. This is the case even in the civil service, whose heads and top officials must be Muslims.

But Mawdudi, apparently conscious and aware of the circumstance of the modern world, seems to be more tolerant toward the non-Muslims. Hence, he said: “In regard to a parliament or a legislature of the modern type which is considerably different from the advisory council in its traditional sense, this rule could be relaxed to allow non-Muslims to be members provided that it has been fully ensured in the constitution that no law which is repugnant to the Qur’an and the Sunna should be enacted, that the Qur’an and the Sunna should be the chief source of public law, and that the head of the state should necessarily be a Muslim.”

According to Mawdudi, under these circumstances, the sphere of influence of non-Muslim minorities would be limited to matters relating to general problems of the country or to the interest of the minorities, and their participation should not damage the fundamental requirement of Islam.

Mawdudi’s view does not receive the approval of most other schools of the Shari`a which hold that non-Muslims are not allowed to assume any position which might bestow on them any authority over any Muslim. A position of sovereignty demands the implementation of Islamic ideology. It is alleged that a non-Muslim (regardless of his ability, sincerity, and loyalty to his country) cannot and would not work faithfully to achieve the spiritual, ideological and political goals of Islam.

Apparently, the political arena and the official public sectors are not the only areas in which non-Muslims are not allowed to assume a position of authority. Even in the conduct of business and trade, there are such restrictions too.

Mawdudi, who is more liberal and lenient than most Muslim scholars, presents a revolutionary opinion when he said that in an Islamic state that “all non-Muslims will have the freedom of conscience, opinion, expression, and association as the one enjoyed by Muslims themselves, subject to the same limitations as are imposed by law on Muslims.”
His views, however, are not accepted by most Islamic schools of law, especially in regard to the freedom of expression like criticism of Islam and the government.

So, how should we non-Muslims look at PAS, given the indisputably absolute Islamic agenda the party is committed to, whatever the conspicious political compromise it is currently seen as advocating?

First of all, I believe we need to exercise wise caution, discernment and practise discerption in our evaluation of PAS and what it stands for.

In our anger against what we perceive as more than half a century of extremely offensive and oppressive rule by the Barisan Nasional, and in our euphoria over the March 2008 political tsunami and enthusiasm to send the recalcitrant politicians of Umno, MCA, Gerakan, and MIC packing at the next general election, we may become irrational and irrepressible, even irresponsible, and opt to jump from the frying wok into the fire, throwing away the baby with the bath water.

Are we sure that PAS and what it stands for are what is good for the nation at this juncture? Can we be sure that PAS will not seek to impose its exclusive Islamic agenda to achieve its fundamental aim of making Malaysia an Islamic state, if ever the Pakatan Rakyat manages to take control of Putrajaya?

Why is PAS so adamant about the appropriation, propagation and implementation of the doctrinally framed hudud jurispudence in Kelantan now?

We need to be sensible and realistic to know that whatever political propagada PAS may convey to us now, to win our support and vote, the party would never give up its objective to make the country an Islamic state, or else it would not be PAS anymore.

The uneasy and unaligned alliance between PAS and the DAP within the Pakatan Rakyat alternative coalition is surely unapt, like trying to combine oil and water into one substance, PAS being an exclusive religious party, and the DAP a secular socialist-orientated set-up.

If we look objectively, analytically, critically, and honestly at the PAS Islamic agenda, we cannot help, but will come to understand and realise that the uncanny association of PAS and the DAP in the Pakatan Rakyat is simply an electoral expediency to win the Battle for Putrajaya. After that, what?

Unless PAS is prepared to abandon its raison d’etre of wanting to establish an Islamic federal administration in the country, I cannot foresee a truely feasible, viable and dynamic administration at Putrajaya if the Pakatan Rakyat manages to oust the Barisan Nasional from power. To say otherwise is to conceal the truth.

Hence, I appeal to leaders of the DAP, and perhaps the PKR, to reconsider the unequal yoke they have with PAS. The political marriage of covenience will inevitably end in a bitter divorce, and may be costly for the well-being of the nation.

Much is at stake in the Battle for Putrajaya, and we should not allow PAS to derail the march towards reforming, regenerating, and revitalising our beloved country to become a better place for all who call it home.