Political Islam, ignore it at your own peril


What you first need to do, and do it fast, is to openly declare whether Malaysia is a Secular State or a pseudo-Theocratic State. And if Malaysia is a Secular State then amend the Constitution so that this can be specified in the Constitution. Until then many Malays will be convinced that Malaysia is not a Secular State. And since we have Syariah laws that means Malaysia is more or less or almost an Islamic State.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The son of quite a famous Mufti told me this joke about ten years or so ago (and the only reason I am relating this joke is because the son of quite a famous Mufti told it):

There was this man who had three sons. The first son was clever so he went on to become a doctor. The second son was also clever so he became an engineer. The third son was not too clever, though, so he did religious studies and went on to become a Mufti.

No, that is not what my article is about. It is just that this is quite a serious subject, and very sensitive on top of that, so I thought I should get you relaxed a bit before we jump into the subject.

I have been saying this so many times for quite some time but none of you appear to be listening. What I said was you must not cure the symptoms of the disease. You need to cure the cause of the disease. Curing the symptoms of the disease is not curing the disease.

For example, let us look at malaria. If the patient is shivering (which you assume is from the cold) you do not just cover him or her with layers of blankets. You need to cure the patient of that malaria. And most important of all, you need to remove the patient from the environment (or clean up the environment) that caused the malaria in the first place.

So, first of all, cure the malaria. Next, clean up the environment that breeds mosquitoes. Then you send the patient home. If not the patient will never be cured and will get malaria again the instant he or she goes home.

Now, many people are shouting and screaming and foaming at the mouth regarding what the Pahang Mufti said. Some even said he has shit for brains. And the cursing and swearing are not confined to just the non-Muslims but even Muslims are condemning the Mufti.

I do not know how many of you paid attention over the last 20 years when I wrote about political Islam. Did you even understand what I meant by political Islam and when I said that Islam is not just a religion but an adeen or way of life? And when I said that Islam is a complete political and administrative system did you grasp that meaning?

Muslims would just say I am not qualified to talk about Islam and that I should go learn more before talking. Some would suggest that I must bersila (sit cross-legged on the floor) in front of a guru who can speak Arabic. Others question my credentials and ask which Islamic university I studied Islam.

These people do not understand that when I talk about political Islam I am not trying to tafsir (analyse) the Qur’an, or am trying to teach you the Hadith, or am trying to explain the doctrine of Islam, etc. I am talking about something absolutely different and am relating it to the history, development, progress and spread of Islam over 1,400 years until now (and why Islam is what it is today).

Anyway, no need to go through 1,400 years of Islamic history because that is going to be a thesis. Let me just talk about the last 60 years of Islam in Malaysia. Islam became the dominant religion of Hindu-Buddhist Malaya only about 600 years or so ago (although Islam had already touched down in places like Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu 400 years earlier).

In short, Islam has been around Malaya for about 1,000 years but did not become the main religion until 400 years later (so it took 400 years for Islam to grow and take root). And then after it become the dominant religion it practically dictated what the Malays did and did not do for 600 years.

But the Islam that we knew during the pre-Merdeka days was a different form of Islam. You would see beer or Guinness Stout advertisements with Malay models and Malay girls/women using knee-length skirts and bareback dresses and so on. And ronggeng and joget (even samba, rumba and cha-cha) were the favourite dances of the Malays. (And have you seen the old black-and-white Malay movies of the 1950s and 1960s?).

I have also said this before. Most elite Malays drank and if you were ‘somebody’ then your house would have a bar well stocked with the best liquor. Let me assure you, during the pre-Merdeka days till the 1950s-1960s, Malays had more class than the Chinese and Indians when it came to drinking. Chinese and Indians drank like it was orange juice and they did not know how to appreciate fine liquor.

Then came Merdeka and the British went home and the days of the ‘Brown Englishmen’ (and Eurasian-Malays like me) were numbered. But for the first 20 years or so after Merdeka it was still okay. I mean even in the 1960s Hari Raya was when we got drunk.

Then, 20 years after Merdeka came the days of the Islamic movements. And one such movement of many, but the more prominent of the many, was ABIM, which was led by Anwar Ibrahim after he was released from ISA detention in the mid-1970s.

Anwar toured Malaysia to spread the word that Umno is Kafir because those who act like Kafir become Kafir. He whacked places like Lake Club and Selangor Club where Malays congregate to drink like the Kafir do. Those who ape the Kafir by dressing like the Kafir and wear western clothes become Kafir — because when you act like Kafir you become Kafir.

Because of the impact that ABIM and Anwar made, even people like me stopped drinking and stopped playing gin rummy. I started to learn how to read the Qur’an (imagine that was almost age 30) and learnt how to pray (and I never missed my five times a day prayer no matter where I was). In 1982 I did my first pilgrimage to Mekah and did a total of ten trips to Mekah over about the same number of years.

Hell, I even joined an Iranian organised anti-Saudi/anti-US demonstration in Mekah. I supported the Iranian Revolution, the Afghan/Taliban war against Russia, Iraq’s (first) war against the Allied forces, and believed that Malaysia should be turned into an Islamic State — either an Islamic Monarchy or Islamic Republic if the Rulers resist and insist of maintaining a Secular State system.

Yes, we are talking about developments that started 40 years ago and which were allowed to go on unchecked. And I should know because I was caught right in the middle of it. I would agree to blood being spilt in Malaysia if that is going to help the country become the Islamic Republic of Malaysia or the Islamic Kingdom of Malaysia.

Yes, but then maybe a million are going to die. So what? You need to break the shell to fry the egg. And one million deaths is collateral damage to see Malaysia end its secularism and become a true Islamic State.

Of course, I am now 65 and all that happened when I was half my current age. When I was in my teens and my twenties I just wanted to get drunk. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties I wanted to see an Islamic revolution in Malaysia. Now I just want to see my grandchildren as often as I can.

But my generation is the minority in Malaysia. The majority are what we now call Generation Y. And the Islamic Putsch is coming from Generation Y, the age that I was when I supported the Iranian Revolution, Iraq’s war with the west, the Afghan/Taliban war against Russia, the move to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State, and much more.

So, you ignore political Islam at your own peril. For hundreds of years Malaysia was peaceful and Malays could drink, dance and do whatever they wanted with no hassle and harassment from anyone.

Do you want to hear another story? Back in our jahiliyah days (meaning the era of ignorance) I attended one Hari Raya open house of the brother of one of the Sultans and everyone was drinking and getting drunk in full view of the Mufti and the Imam of the State Mosque and about five other senior religious people.

I really found that amusing and although I am sure they felt most uncomfortable, the Sultan’s brother and the rest of the Malays who were drinking did not care, while all those religious leaders pretended they did not see anything. Can you imagine what would happen today if we still did that?

Okay, another story, I once bumped into an ex-teacher (from my school days of the 1960s) who was lamenting about this son. “He has now become so religious and has joined the dakwah (missionary) movement…sigh…I don’t know where I went wrong with him.”

So stop grumbling about the Pahang Mufti. There are one million more such people where the Pahang Mufti came from. You can arrest the Pahang Mufti and send him to jail like some people want to see happen. But that will just turn the one million into two million.

What you first need to do, and do it fast, is to openly declare whether Malaysia is a Secular State or a pseudo-Theocratic State. And if Malaysia is a Secular State then amend the Constitution so that this can be specified in the Constitution. Until then many Malays will be convinced that Malaysia is not a Secular State. And since we have Syariah laws that means Malaysia is more or less or almost an Islamic State.

Cure the disease, not the symptoms. When people call non-Muslims Kafir that is not the disease. That is merely the symptoms of the disease. The disease is we do not know whether Malaysia is or is not a Secular State. And until we do then Islam is our system and the Qur’an is our Constitution.

Now tell me, do I need to translate this into Bahasa, Chinese or Tamil before you can understand this? Or do I need to keep repeating this for yet another 20 years before you can get it?