Ulama know PAS best, says wing’s chief

(MM) – Amid a rumoured rift between ulama (Islamic clerics) and laypersons in PAS, the former today came out to say the group understands the Islamist party’s struggle best as they are more knowledgeable in the Quranic teachings that form PAS’s core values.

However, at the PAS ulama wing annual muktamar here, the group denied that it is hungry for power when it suggested for the ulama to have more prominent roles in administration.

“We do not want power, we are not power hungry, we are not power crazy.

“But for PAS, which is a party based on Islam, PAS’ constitution states that its highest laws are Quran … So who in (the party), who understand the party’s policies more? Who understands more besides the ulama?” said wing chief Datuk Harun Taib in his launching speech here.

But he denied that his saying so undermined those not from within its ranks or that was he acknowledging a rift between the two groups.

In September, eight resolutions were passed at a convention held by its clergy class in Kedah, during which it also called for PAS’s two top posts to be reserved for the ulama.

The meeting, dubbed Multaqa Ulama Se-Malaysia (Convention of Malaysia’s Ulama) further demanded that the members of the group be given government posts in PR-run states – an unprecedented move that suggests discontent over the lack of recognition accorded to the class that forms a powerful bloc in PAS.

Despite admitting that the party’s 59th annual muktamar had been made “hotter” from the wing’s resolutions, Harun claimed today that he and the ulama faction had been unfairly attacked, which he said had resulted from misunderstandings.

Harun was speaking to a 500-strong crowd in the wing’s muktamar, themed “Ulama Haraki Menangani Fasad, Mengisi Kemenangan” (Progressive clerics handling damage and fulfilling victory).

The ulama’s resolution in September calling for the party to return to its Islamic struggle and the strengthening of ulama leadership in the party — with a resolution for the president and his deputy to come from the faction — could signal the return of Islamic conservatism in PAS.

The influential ulama wing had also last month renewed calls for the party to relook ties with partner PKR and its position in the federal opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat.

In the last party polls, PAS grassroots overwhelmingly supported the progressives at the ulama faction’s expense, in a tactical move aimed at garnering more non-Malay support in the 13th general election.