Monday, June 6, 2011

A Springtide Into A Democracy of Faith?

Is it a springtide what happened at the Pas’ 57th general assembly and party supreme council elections?

Party president, Abdul Hadi Awang, after he summarily cast the suggested Unity Government with the Barisan Nasional (BN) into the cesspool in his policy speech on Friday June 3, he was greeted by a major change of the guards, leaving him and his ulama leadership substantially injured.

When observers pressed home the point that it had been a sweep of the progressive (“Erdogan”) grouping in the party which had the ulama (religious scholars) pressed against the wall, Hadi feebly resisted the popular perception.

He said all of the elected guards belonged to party supremo, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, and to himself, the duo held as the highlights of the ulama leaderhip that sprung the coup which ousted Asri Haji Muda from power in 1982 and is now quite clearly being wished out.

How shall the inroad of the progressives express itself in the party is a question that is already disturbing the Malay psyche that’s needing a point to regain coherence, cohesion and a collective perception of the recall in the Sino- and Indo-Malay stresses in this prodigal plural society British imperialism made as a lasting testimony of divide-and-rule.

Did Hadi Awang produce an answer to the racial and religious tensions that have already combusted twice in the past several years and causing the tensions to stretch stiff like hide dried in the sun?

Hadi had this time gone to great lengths to appease the DAP and other non-Muslims in his experimental tahaful siyasi (political alliance), reciting this verse from the Holy Qur’an,

"…those who have been driven from their homelands for no other reason than their saying. “Our Sustainer is God!” For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques - in [all of] which Gods name is abundantly extolled - would surely have been destroyed [before now]…" – Q. 22:40

It’s a well-chosen verse, of course.

But when he said this showed Islam acknowledges the plural society and provides for the freedom of beliefs, the scholar-president tripped on his toob and would not have been able to keep his posture if he had been confronted with his wanting different laws and separate judiciaries for the Muslims and for the others.

He wanted different taxes for the Muslims and for the non-Muslims as well.

Hadi had not the guts to wire his Islam to an all-inclusive party, nation and world-vision, something the younger among the progressives have grown into and are ready to live by.

While in neighboring Indonesia the Islamic Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) had openly dropped the Islamic State and become inclusive, the Pas under Hadi and Nik Aziz has merely provided non-Muslim members with a wing worth a handful of votes in the general assembly.

This could be a wracking experience in the Malay psyche, a disjointed remark in the historical evolution of a people that had been serially colonized and living within a political, economic and social compute they had no hand in its making.

Are the progressives in the party ready to take the high road into a cultural revolution of the kind that has made a quest for universal Islam in the sprawling island archipelago of Muslims, Hindus, Hindu-Buddhist, Christians, Taoists and animists?

It’s a sprawling archipelago much larger than Europe and keeping to a Unity in Diversity cast upon an idea of Tantular, the poet-saint of Jawa, a visionary of the distant past whose heritage it has been the life-blood and the breathing of this Indonesia, this marvel of island clusters of the Gods.

If Hadi has a problem with that, it should do him good to remind himself the Filipinos are mostly Christians but are all Malays, among whom was Sandokan, the swashbuckling buccaneer who is a legend in South America Kabir Bedi cast himself into on the wide screen several decades before.

How are we to resolve the division of a family by language, color and culture by the sectarian partitioning of a legalistic religion?

This legalism had divided the world into the Abode of Islam (Darul Islam) and the Abode of War (Darul Harb) while it maintained in its books that society must be seen stratified by gender, with men first and women a step below and followed by the slaves captured, bought and sold, and sometimes prostituted for a gain in the glitter of the gold on the dinar.

Is that at all Islam for this time?

Is that a recall of the human primeval condition fashioned by a God Who is Mercy and Compassion?

This is a statement of human ill, a medieval exposure to the nature of the wicked and the oppressive.

This warranted remark of the differences in time, of outlooks and values, of civilizations, is in the minds of the generations long liberated from the captivity of the religious mind, long severed from the writings on the papyri and long distanced from the superstitions imposed by clerics of one nature or of another, of the breeding by a mentality rendered null by substantial progresses of civilization.

Having failed to stump the progress of women, who are now in the Pas an array of blatantly successful professionals (how unbecoming!!), will you not consider to tolerate for the rest of us a simple confession of freedom of conscience, and not beat about the bush like in a medieval orgy of people in the lusty sensualism of satyrs and nymphs some Umno couples want to become?

There is an injurious growth in the Malay psyche, perhaps an abscess of faith issued from a standard refusal to admit Islam itself is an imperial system that has, since the 17th century, become the lordship in six extant monarchies in Riau-Lingga and the Malay Peninsular.

What these conjure is a simple but critical conflict in the Malay psyche.

The Malays, as Hindu-Buddhists, had developed among the largest empires in the world, leaving monumental structures like the Borobudur, Angkor Wat and Muara Takus.

The Muslims ruled over trading-states instead, like Malacca, or Brunei, and after many centuries they left as monumental structures and histories…..what?

What did they leave behind that were self-made, self-built, that were of self from self around which can be developed the pride and the historical mission for the existential sense to adhere by and become adhesive leading to a certain and formidable destiny?

How does Islam in the Malay world compare with Fatimid Egypt, or Ummayad Spain, or with Mughal India? Could the monumental have been the ulama? Like Nik Aziz and Abdul Hadi Awang?

And therefore, starting a new page of history, there was and is the revolt in Pas on June 3 that has caused an exuberant sense of hope and once again shall live in high expectation on the road to a new Malaysia. Will the progressives have the guts to do it, I wonder.

And with a 21 votes majority, how long can Mat Sabu withstand the backlash of the ulama when they decide to whip him and to boycott him is the question to ask.

What is happening in Pas is clearly another reflection of the Malays in social disintegration. Like Muhammad, the Prophet of the Arabs, going back to the root of the Semites in Abraham, the Malays have to do the same to regain the sense of social identity. It will mean going back to the Malay Way (here)or it would have to be going to an altogether new ideology, which will take time.

Islam, which is here no more than a rites of passage, is obviously ill-equipped to suggest a solution for the Malays and for Malaysia in this glorious geopolitical remaking of the world and the repeat contest of the Occident and the Orient.

Malaysia was Majapahit II, centered in Kelantan. This was about the most coherent ideological point of the Malay genesis. It was also the confluence of Malay culture and Islam. Will the Kelantan prince,Tengku Razaleigh, then step in to help?-----a. ghani ismail, 8 June, 2011

Ps. On June 8 the older ulama, Nik Aziz Nik Mat,was widely reported to boom again, this time saying it was Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and not Karpal Singh who ruined his attempt to apply the hudud laws in Kelantan and therefore, make the state he heads as Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) an Islamic State.

There goes the brief hope that Abdul Hadi Awang had meant to relief us of the hudud laws in his policy speech a few days ago. It's predictable, you see.