It's a mistake to disregard Abdul Hadi Awang - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Malaysiakini : “Modern fanaticism thrives in proportion to the quantity of contradictions and nonsense it pours down the throats of the gaping multitude, and the jargon and mysticism it offers to their wonder and credulity.” ― William Hazlitt
As someone who has led men and women of various faiths, I have to tell
you, nobody has ever come up to me and said that they fear they are
going to hell because they were led by a Hindu. I do not know what the
situation is like now. Has anyone from the state security
apparatus come up to Abdul Hadi Awang and confided that they fear going
to hell because they were led by non-Muslims? What is the position of
the friends of PAS camp?
Some people consider Hadi a joke. I am
not one of those people. Ever since May 9, there has been a consistent
move by religious extremists, the crypto Islamists within Harapan, the
Malay far right and the religious bureaucracy to undermine the secular
values in this country.
The call for mosque activities to move
beyond the environs of the mosque, extremists preachers like Zakir Naik
being allowed to roam our countryside, and various “nanny state”
policies intended to hoodwink a gullible public point to a renewed
process of Islamisation.
Hadi, as I have argued, is merely the
politically incorrect face of Islam. When people mock the current PAS
leadership for making deals with kleptocrats, they forget that this is
exactly how religious extremists in so-called Islamic states turn
national tragedy into political gain, by making deals with corrupt
regimes and slowly but surely, establishing themselves as the power
behind the throne.
When Hadi says that Muslims who are led by non-Muslims are going to hell,
what about non-Muslims who are led by Muslims? This would mean that all
non-Muslims here in Malaysia who are led by Muslims are going to
heaven, right? Unless, of course, there is a precondition that anyone
entering heaven must be a Muslim.
Hadi claims that even if the
Muslim leadership were cruel, Muslims would still go to heaven because
of the faith-based system of governance under these “cruel” Muslim
leaders. But supposing those Muslim leaders were cruel but did not
impose religious laws, would Muslims still go to hell?
reasoning, all Muslims in the West are going to hell. Every Muslim who
voted for a non-Muslim candidate is going to hell? Muslims living in
China are going to hell, so are Muslims in certain African countries,
Muslims in South America, Australia and any other country led by
non-Muslims, but who have Muslim communities.
The only Muslims who
are going to heaven are the ones in Middle East dictatorships and yes,
Malaysia because our federal government is led by Muslims. But this is
still not good enough, because the federal government has not declared
that syariah laws apply to all, but more importantly that Quranic law
does not supersede secular law.
Which brings us to the Muslims in
Penang. Are they going to heaven or hell? Penang is led by a Chinese
chief minister and a party which PAS routinely demonises with speeches
that should be considered seditious, but apparently is not. I say
“seditious” because if a non-Muslim used the rhetoric coming out from
PAS and other zealots, he or she would be charged with sedition.
even though the federal bureaucracy is Muslim-led, does this save the
poor Muslim souls in Penang? Look, non-Muslim leadership in this country
have always acknowledged what is “halal” and “haram” in the Muslim
community. But is this enough? The Muslims in Penang, for instance, who
voted for a non-Muslim political party, did not vote for a party which
did not acknowledge the importance of what is kosher or not in the
They voted for a political party which they
believed would improve their standard of living and not engage in the
corrupt practices of the ruling federal government. They did not vote –
or at least, I think – they did not vote with the belief that their
choice would lead them to heaven or hell.
Political power through religion
of course, is an interesting example, because of its rich tradition of
Muslim culture which was not separate from Indian culture, which is what
the House of Saud acolytes would have you believe.
is also an interesting observation of the way how various hegemonic
powers have attempted to use Islam to subvert the Muslim community and
keep them enthralled to political power through religion.
Last year in May, the New Straits Times carried an interesting piece by Alan Teh Leam Seng – whose work I have been following sporadically - about the origins of Penang’s oldest mosque. The history, of course, is complex enough which means it subverts commonly held perceptions of Islam in this country.
I found extremely interesting beyond the kind of tribal politics
between two mosques vying for interpretive control, was the narrative of
what happened during the Japanese occupation of Malaya and how the
colonialist attempted to use religion as a basis for fidelity to the
Japanese empire. From the piece, quoting a Penang Shimbun article:
article continues with a rather vivid description of the previous
year’s Hari Raya Puasa celebrations which fell on Oct 12, 1942. It said
that about 5,000 Muslims assembled at the Chinese Recreation Club field
at around 9.30am to perform their traditional Aidil Fitri prayers.
"The ceremony started in earnest half an hour later with the arrival of General S Katayama, the Lieutenant Governor of Penang. "I
rub my eyes in disbelief when I reach the final part of the text. Once
the prayers and sermon were over, the entire congregation got on their
feet and changed their position from the Masjid al-Haram, the Grand
Mosque in Mecca, and began facing the direction of the Tenno Heika or
Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
"After the people had finished
paying their respects to the Japanese Emperor, the ceremony ended with
representatives from the various Muslim communities swearing allegiance
and loyalty to the Imperial Japanese Army. They promised to uphold the
peace and obey the laws in Penang.”
By Hadi’ reasoning would
those Muslims go to hell? What of those Muslims who fought the
imperialists, but were communist? Would they go to hell too? Here’s
the thing. If you look at the history of Islam in Malaysia, all it has
been about is political operatives in cahoots with religious zealots to
subvert religion, to further agendas which are anathema to democratic