Monday, June 08, 2009

Pasti Ada Sudahnya - charting the future

The latest PAS Muktamar delivered no surprises.

Make no mistake, PAS will always maintain its ambition of creating an Islamic state, despite toning down its clarion call during the last general election to garner multiracial support (which of course drew criticism from some quarters within PAS who see this as a concession in exchange for a bite of the cherry that is federal power.)

Of course we all know this.

I am sure that I am not the only one, who in support for the Opposition, derived more than a little comfort supporting a coalition that had PAS on one end of the table and DAP on the other, and Keadilan in the centre keeping them from killing each other.

Be it a belief in checks and balances, or foolhardy optimism, we rejoiced in that there was a viable alternative to an Umno-led government.   

But back to the annual AGMs and Muktamars –we have the same rhetorical regurgitation that endears the politicians to their grassroots. I guess when in Rome.. or Kota Bahru in this case. 

So does it make a difference to us, the new generation of non-muslims and non-traditional voters of PAS, whether the party is helmed by the ulamas or the “Erdogan”, if it is to be conservative or progressive, if at the end of the day an Islamic state is their ultimate aim?

I would venture a yes. Because despite being a party that still functions at the will of the grassroots, it will be the leadership that defines and articulates what an Islamic state is to be. 

To quote Shanon Shah:

PAS needs to be asked, point blank, what it really envisions as its ideal government, whether or not it calls it an "Islamic state". The questions must go beyond such easy-to-fudge concepts as "democracy" and "good governance".

What will the party's position be on apostasy? On the religious conversion of minors? On homosexuality and bisexuality? On moral policing? On disconcerting-concert-banning? On the rights of other religious communities? On turning personal sins for Muslims — not going to the mosque on Fridays or not fasting during Ramadan, for example — into crimes against the state? On the status of deviant sects? On marital rape? On polygamy in Islam?”

Answers that I have been seeking too but nobody seems to be able to enlighten me.

With PAS’ resolution for the National Fatwa Council to investigate, ban and rehabilitate members of Sisters in Islam, the language quickly brought to mind my long history lessons on Soviet Russia. Freaky I know.

With punitive action identified even before engagement with SIS has even commenced, it will be an uphill battle for PAS to convince the masses that it is not out to hang SIS. Despite the press statements where PAS leaders say that they disagree with the punitive actions, the fact that the resolution was adopted and without debate even, the impression that PAS is out to smother opposing/liberal views is already cast.

Bad PR? You bet.

While I am certain that rehabilitation by the National Fatwa Council is not via exile to the frozen plains of Siberia, the obvious question here would be rehabilitation by whose Islam? 

Far be it for me to say whether SIS’s “views caused confusion and were a threat to Muslims' faith” yet SIS’s efforts in championing Muslim women’s rights and access to the legal system is very noteworthy, it being an unpopular and lonely road.     

There is good chance that this resolution would further alienate the modern Muslim woman who is comfortable and confident enough in her religion to not let anyone be it SIS or PAS, to dictate to her the terms of her own belief.

I have yet to read the responses of my compatriots in SIS who fall squarely within "the younger generation and those who have a secular education".  I am anticipating a hailstorm.

I have yet to meet a SIS member who is not educated, articulate, fiercely intelligent and not capable of giving you whiplash should you even suggest that peranan SIS bertentangan dengan syariat Islam.

Being a non-muslim and only a Friend to the Sisters in Islam, I very obviously lack locus standi on the matter of the authenticity of faith. Yet I strongly believe that the right to hold a differing opinion is enshrined in the constitution. But then I can anticipate the not unfamiliar, "Kafir, keep out," retorts to that. 

And if SIS is banned on the basis of confusing Islamic society and also infiltrating the minds of Muslims, as a multiracial society, should we be concerned as to where it would stop? The potential to "corrupt" may come from unconventional scholars, to next door churches to even Akademi Fantasia – seek and thou shall find thy bogeyman.  

Surely we have had enough of those to last us a lifetime? 

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