The spirits, they knew Haron Din By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Malaysiakini : “Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.”
- Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) in ‘Unforgiven’
COMMENT Writing of the dead
American Christian extremist Reverend Jerry Falwell, Christopher
Hitchens who died of cancer some years back, said, “The evil that he did
will live after him. This is not just because of the wickedness that he
actually preached, but because of the hole that he made in the ‘wall of
separation’ that ought to divide religion from politics.”
As that particular type of Muslim Malaysian, Haron Din did not
believe in that “wall of separation” between mosque and state. Indeed,
he believed that the enemies of Islam - always Islam, never his
political adversaries - were those who believed in “the wall”,
liberalism, freedom of religion and speech, in “Western” human rights,
those things that the spiritual leader told his flock were anathema to
His weltanschauung was a wall of separation between those who
believed in his version of Islam and those who were the enemies of
Islam, in other words those who believed in anything else, including
different interpretations of Islam.
The apogee of his crusade against the so-called “enemies” of Islam
was when he accused former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and de facto leader of the opposition of working with the enemies of Islam, implying the DAP and well, anyone who disagreed with him.
This did not go down well with me and I wrote,
“What happens if an IS (Islamic State) sympathiser reads Haron Din’s
hate speech and carries out an attack on the DAP or somebody who
supports the DAP or a Muslim who supports the DAP or just that unlucky
Malaysian who is caught in the cross hairs? What is the difference
between Haron Din’s view of Islam and the view of those IS members
waiting to murder for their cause?
“I am talking about perspectives here, not methodology. I have no
idea if the spiritual adviser supports the methodology of IS. I know
that he shares the same views. I know that what he wants to achieve is
exactly what they want to achieve but for now, someone like him is
comfortable using hate speech in service of a democratic agenda.”
This was what was so frustrating for many others and me. Haron Din
was willing to use democracy to legitimately gain power and subvert
those very principles once in power. Of course, the fault is in our
hands. We legitimised Haron Din and his political party in the hopes
that common sense would prevail over religious impulse.
Three years ago, in a piece titled, ‘Mat Taib, Haron Din and PAS' hudud games’, I wrote:
“I have always argued that PAS is the sole ideological coherent party
in the alternative alliance and with the exception of PSM (which is on
unsteady ground when it comes to a strict reading of its ideological
bedrock) will probably be the last party standing together with Umno,
when the non-Malays lose the racial demographic war.”
In those days, opposition supporters were furious that Haron Din was
on the campaign trail telling the faithful that the only way to
implement hudud was gaining federal power. He rallied his supporters;
those supporters who were now mainstream thanks to the ‘PAS for all’
kool aid, which spillage on the Internet ruined many a commentary.
Some people, as I wrote, “dismiss people like Haron Din as Umno sub
rosa provocateurs (sic) but the reality is that this is a very real
dialectic within PAS.” Many opposition supporters believe that the
dialectic was over when Amanah was formed and of course even more so now
that Haron Din has passed, but this is not the case. There will always
be the dialectic simmering between the spiritualists of PAS and the
middle ground technocrats, which ultimately will determine the fate of
the party and unfortunately the country.
However, the mundane world of Malaysian politics, the 'muggle world'
so to speak, was just part of the complex realities that Haron Din
operated within. While your average online partisan would mock the
spiritual leader for betraying whatever cause the opposition claimed
they were part of, they were thousands of Muslim Malaysians who viewed
the man not as a politician but rather as a spiritual warrior on the
frontlines of defending their souls.
As Haron Din toldAFP 11
years ago, “They have problems, not only physical problems but also
spiritual problems, including black magic." While Haron Din was the bete
noire of opposition supporters, it was these people - his real
followers - who fervently believed in the austere Islam he promised them
was their salvation and Malaysia’s.
While disowning the title of “bomoh” - "The term bomoh in the Malay
community is different to the Islamic healer. The bomoh uses inhuman
words, perhaps words of the wild spirit. This is prohibited in Islam" -
he honestly believed in the dominion he had over the supernatural world. (It is my experience that Islamists in the Wahhabi mode disown their
culture in favour of whatever is peddled by the House of Saud.)
From the AFP article: “Haron, an intense, compact man in a
blue tunic and white Islamic cap, finds no conflict between his deeply
held religious convictions and his dealings with the world of ‘wild
spirits’, which he says are addressed in the Quran.”
The world of wild spirits sound much like Malaysian politics, only
much more exciting. Evicting spirits seemed to be Haron's main mission.
He was extremely conscious of the fact that we were sharing this world
with other beings - "This world does not belong to human beings only,
this world belongs to the creatures, animals, plants, trees and the
spirits. When we want to build our houses or projects we don't care
about them, we just go ahead and clear areas. When that happens, there
is a reaction on humans."
In his life, Haron Din evicted, and sometimes relocated, wild spirits
who were attempting to plague the Muslim Malaysian community and at the
same time, he was defending Islam from the numerous enemies that
attempted to subvert its true purpose, a purpose that Haron Din was
custodian of. If anything, his politics and his spirituality were not mutually
exclusive and he never claimed they were.
Maybe having spent so much
time safeguarding the spirituality of his flock, he truly believed that
aligning PAS with Umno would hasten the eviction of “wild spirits” from
Malaysia.I have no idea why he would want to be buried in San Francisco, the
epicentre of everything he despised but ultimately it is not important
what people like me and other opposition supporters say about him. The
Haron Din we think we know is the least interesting thing about the man.
There are many who will mourn his passing for reasons that we will
never understand but as he once said, "Most of the spirits in Malaysia