Dhummies wishing upon the moon
By Peter Masry
Also by Peter: Understanding why DAP is so dhimmi
A commentator calling himself Fabian Sim replies to my write-up above, saying: “Having Islamic principles would not mean bad governance. If we were to adhere to what is in the Constitution, we ALL have our rights…”
My response to Fabian, as below.
Several comments here allude to the notion of “waiting for a perfect party” to take hold in Malaysia. I don’t think anybody anywhere is deluded in thinking there is a perfect party.
That is NOT the same as saying one has to settle for second or third best, however one individually defines it. There is political space between the spectral ends of extreme altruism and extreme utilitarianism.
Fabian, you are free to espouse the right of Malaysians to choose Islamic institutions if they arise out of political processes. I think you are wrong, but to paraphrase the great French philosopher Voltaire, I will defend your right to be wrong.
We have a model of failed Islamic institutions in the guise of secularism; it’s called present-day Turkey, where the Islamic Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is steadily and surely Islamicising previously secular Turkish public and private institutions (it is debatable whether most Turks support this; we will have to await the next election in Turkey).
Civil institutions, previously secular and civilian, in Lebanon have been bastardised by Hizbullah which has turned Lebanon, once again, into a Syrian and Iranian client state. So much so that, ironically, we hear talk again among some Lebanese Maronites that Israel should go into Lebanon again to save some of the Christians and dethrone Hizbullah (probably unwise whatever the political merits in the short run).
Secularism an anathema to PAS
Many fellow Malaysians assume, wrongly in my view, that political Islam and Democracy (with a big ‘D’) are compatible, in Malaysia, at least, if not in the Middle-East and South Asia.
Since PAS, like any Islamic party, is beholden to Quranic precepts (no practicing Muslim can have it any other way) and the literal and absolute interpretations of Salih al-Bukhari and other Hadiths (and, of course, all the Surahs), there is no possible way – short of interpreting the Quran as a doctrinal smorgasbord from which to selectively choose and interpret – that any Malaysian or other Muslim voting for any Islamic party anywhere can accept democratic and secular precepts and institutions.
If, and when, such an Islamic party comes to power, there is no way it can accept democratic and secular precepts, let alone attempt to implement them at the societal and national levels. I invite any individual to provide an actual example to contradict this statement.
There is absolutely nothing (as has already been discussed by many local columnists) in the Malaysian federal constitution about Islamic principles.
I state openly that I contest that Islamic principles can lead to any good governance anywhere on planet Earth but not because such Islamic principles are mentioned or not mentioned (as I said above, they aren’t) in Malaysia’s constitution.
I state the inability of Islamic principles to lead to good governance because they didn’t lead to good governance in 7th Century Medina (Yathrib) and Makah in Arabia when they were formulated by the Prophet Muhammad.
No escape from emulating the Prophet
The goal of any Islamic party is to emulate the Nabi and his precepts, none of which involved concepts of democracy.
Naturally anticipating the rebuttal from some readers, “Well, Judaism and Christianity” were not democratic either 1400-2000 years ago. Indeed they weren’t, but a large portion of the adherents of Christianity and Judaism has accepted the various religious reformations that have taken place since 2,000 years ago.
Islam has undergone few reformations that have been sustained. Whatever changes instituted by the Abassids, Moghuls or Ottomans did not involve rejecting Islamic precepts but codifying them under local ethnic and cultural interpretations (whether Arab, Indic, Turkic or Persian).
In the current ‘revolutions’ in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and elsewhere (Iran is an open question at this stage), very, very few of the protesters are calling for secular institutions; the secular Muslim elite in the Arab, Persian and South Asian world are in hiding, quiet, or have moved overseas to the EU, Australia and USA for greener pastures.
When the day comes – to use a simple example – when Salman Rushdie can put in print whatever he chooses, whether we agree with it or not, without a fatwa being put out to lop off his head, Islam will be headed in the direction towards reform.
I do not expect this reform to happen anytime soon.
Hartal note: While the write-up is Peter’s (that he submitted as a comment but which we felt deserved airing as a posting), the headline is ours.
Related posting: Salute to Norman Fernandez, deputy chairman DAP Johor