Monday, 28 September 2009

Islamist Politics: The Making of Fascists?

What I do know is that I’m looking for is a book that will give me a sense of what Islam is, the real version as opposed to one that has been unjustly hijacked by extremism and media alike.
-Abby Wong,
Seeking the truth,


The above is a very compassionate perspective of a "revolutionary" philosophy from the time of Mohamed. Well written, by a searcher, I must say.
(Frankly - I'm not so kind to the "religious world" ..... even where the Christian doctrines/dogma are concerned). However, I do believe that the prophets of old were real visionaries, were geniuses in their own right and really did have some "divine inspiration" - just as many of our modern "prophets" in politics, philosophy & the sciences of today. In their time, they were all, nothing short of radical and revolutionary - and had to be "guided by some force", considering the absence of "education as we know it.

There is obviously a spiritual aspect of religion - but religion per se doesn't need spirituality to condition men to its dictates. Beyond spirituality, they tend to raise more questions instead of providing answers - and it is these unanswerable questions that evoke fear in the hearts of the ignorant and gullible, and render them ripe for psychological manipulation by "religious predators". As such, what I wish to address here isn't the spiritual aspect of it, but rather the religiosity advocated by the clerics.

Religion to me is simply a guideline on morality and ethics, meant to create a proper social order - other than that, they are excellent tools of exploitation when politics is added to its "divine flavour". The evolution of every religion has to be understood within the historical context in which they evolved - or else, we tend to misinterpret the meaning of the words used to narrate the incidences, or decisions that were made into laws. Much of what Mohamed preached was in response to the cultural & socio-political trappings of the time. What is practiced today however, often don't take these factors into consideration - and hence the literal interpretations we get. The Quran is indeed a magnificent book (revealed or not) which reflects much of the Judeo-Christian ideas/philosophy in creating social order out of the chaos of pagan Arabia.

"Where is the life we have lost in the living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information ?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries
bring us farther from God and nearer to dust."
- T.S. Elliot

However, the sad fact is that what may be true academically (as you & I may see it), is far from the reality that is practiced by our religious brothers/sisters in their attempt to "out-do" one another. More often than not, they advocate political authority for the clerics who haven't the faintest clue about statecraft. Meanwhile, we of course, have the more intellectual & rational ones cowering at the sight of the imbeciles who make up the clerical hierarchy and dish out edicts like they were the word of God him/herself. Scant regard is payed to the fact that they are usually less than educated or intellectual, and have an inherent inability to think beyond the confines of their skullcaps. - it was what led to the dark ages of the "Holy Roman Empire".

There are many parallels that we can draw between the Christianity of the middle ages and the Islam of today. Nations in the "east" which are "Muslim" today, IMHO, are doomed to regress, due to their psychological subservience to the Arab-Muslim mindset. The "enlightenment" of the Muslim ummah will come from the "evil west", who are more "innovative and creative" in their thinking, due to their lack of reverence for the clerics in their "fashionably pious outfits". Any religion that depends on the clerics for its philosophical evolution is doomed to fail socially, economically and politically. We can only wait to see how our Malaysian intellectuals react to the mindless clerics, who seek to stifle society in their straight-jacket of religiosity.

Lately we had the son of the late Yusof Rawa from PAS (pretending to be very intellectual -while telling all others to "use your brains"), trying to give his perspective of the Islamic State in "Islamic state debate, revisited and revised" and "Islamic State 2: Revised and Revisited". He claims that Islam is "a way of life" (like as if all other religion aren't!!) and thus, inseparable from politics. He makes it sound like with what he proposes, he could create for us a heavenly Malaysia - just as we saw in all the Islamic states of the past (and present, too).
In all their arguments for an Islamic state, never will they articulate how the rights of citizens (as per Universal Declaration of Human Rights) will not be trampled upon. The philosophy of "Liberty" and "Legitimacy" are the farthest things from their minds. Their arguments are usually quite simplistic - that these laws are "God-ordained", even if they were made by man "based on study of the scriptures". There used to be plenty of debate on this matter (those days) in Malaysia Today, and RPK did come out with an article (after March 8, 2008) saying that he isn't for an "Islamic State". (The article on "Islamic state" in TNG did draw some interesting perspectives).

To many "Islamist" politicians, the proof of their Islamic credentials lie in their ability to persecute (legally or otherwise) those who do not share their convictions. They take potshots at those who do not agree, as being "kafirs", "munafiqs", "liberals" or "secularists" (like it is such a bad thing). But of course - we have proponents of an imaginary "Islamic State" in PAS who will go on saying that Islam cannot be separated from politics, and hence should be able to govern (despite all the historical evidence to the contrary).
Yes - in the Islamist's vocabulary, these are "four letter words" which are supposed to translate to being "unIslamic" - when it is the secular and liberal states that are progressive and practice human rights - which are more "Islamic" than many an Islamic nation worldwide.

What many readers who agree with these "Islamist" views don't realize is that these apologists for the "Islamic State" often support the Fascist state in a very subtle way - but of course, it will be in the name of "God". It means that they have to do away with the Federal Constitution and Democracy as we know it. They also forget that under the medieval "Islamic State" concept, they strive to create a tiered society that advocates "apartheid". This is definitely not the the end - and these voices advocating "Islamist" dominance of the Malaysian political landscape would only grow louder as time goes by (especially when corruptions permeates the system and the intellectuals seek to hide themselves - lest they face the religious edicts of unthinking clerics).

There is a very real possibility of Malaysia descending into the world of mediocrity and orthodoxy, should the poor governance and hypocrisy advocated by our "leaders" be perpetuated. We will without doubt see the rise of the Fascists & extremists within Umno and the likes of Hadi, Nasha & Hassan Ali in PAS. Until and unless PAS refuses to play the "trojan" for Umno (in advocating the "Islamic State"), the Malaysian political landscape is bound to be very divisive and unstable - and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition is doomed to be shaky at best.

Let's just keep our fingers crossed ....


"Guilt that is expressed in irreverence is unliveable,
Guilt smothered by pride is unjustifiable and,
Guilt smothered by fear is unbearable"
- Ravi Zacharias, "The Haunting Spectre of Guilt"