Over the last 10 years, I have been involved in several NGOs, most set up to deal with very contentious issues.
In working out our common stand on several thorny issues, the modus was almost always the same.
Closed-door brainstorming, after which a vote by all in attendance, and the majority decision to be taken as the stand of all.
After which, all were expected to close ranks and stand by that majority decision.
Of course, if anyone felt very strongly against that majority decision, he or she was free to leave the organisation.
If the person chose to stay, then he or she would have to abide by that majority decision.
I share this with you in the hope that it might help you to make sense of the recent decision by the Majlis Syura of PAS on the matter of the use of “Allah” by the non-Muslims in the country.
Prior to that decision, recent statements by Tok Guru Nik Aziz, Hadi and Mat Sabu left all with the impression that this issue, thought to have been settled some 3 years ago, but recently brought to the fore by Guan Eng’s unnecessary resurrection of this matter, had, once again, been safely laid to rest.
That decision by the Majlis Syyura now, based on comments appearing everywhere in cyberspace, has spooked many, mostly non-Muslim, who, until recently, were quite comfortable with the idea of voting for a PAS candidate in the next elections.
Recent comments range from “Mat Sabu has done a u-turn” to “would rather spoil my vote than vote for PAS”.
Has Mat Sabu really done a u-turn?
For some years now, many have known that within the PAS leadership and rank and file there prevails groups having differing viewpoints on many issues.
Most prominent are the conservative ulamaks and the ‘Erdogan’ or progressives.
In fact, a few years back, there was speculation that, but for the binding influence of Tok Guru Nik Aziz, we might have seen a split in PAS between these two groups.
And so, to this day, these two groups continue to co-exist in PAS.
A quick check at the PAS website disclosed that the Majlis Syura comprises 18 individuals. Its composition can be seen HERE.
Ask around and you may draw a conclusion, as I have, that the Majlis is near packed to the brim with conservatives.
I am told by sources in PAS that when the Majlis met to deliberate on this issue, the discussions went late into the night, well past midnight, after which the opinion of the conservatives won the day.
The OPINION of the conservatives won the day.
This is the first thing I will ask all of you to note.
The pronouncement of the Majlis is an opinion, binding on the members of PAS, perhaps, but having no force of law, and, as such, not binding on the rest of us.
No more binding on the rest of us than the opinion articulated in this video clip.
Let us now look at the announced opinion of the Majlis, and carefully. I am just going to reproduce the two points that are relevant. You can read the full text HERE.
2) Kalimah Allah adalah alami (universal) kerana Allah Tuhan sekalian alam. Siapa pun boleh menyebut kalimah Allah seperti mana orang Arab Jahiliyah yang tidak Islam menyebut Allah lah yang menjadikan alam ini.
3) Kalimah Allah adalah kalimah khusus yang Allah menamakan diri-Nya Allah. Kalimah itu tidak boleh diterjemahkan ke dalam mana-mana bahasa dunia kerana tidak menepati kehendak sebenar dari kalimah ini. Demikian juga tidak boleh kalimah asing hendak diterjemahkan kepada kalimah Allah.
Oleh kerana itu, menterjemah kalimah God atau Lord dari mana-mana kitab agama bukan Islam kepada perkataan Allah tidak dibolehkan kerana ianya salah dari segi makna dan salah guna, tidak menepati kehendak sebenar yang boleh membawa kekeliruan yang nyata. Oleh kerana itu ia hendaklah dicegah.
Read point 2 carefully and compare the same with what was said by Tok Guru, Hadi and Mat Sabu earlier, and you will find that this is precisely what the three PAS leaders said.
Unless I am mistaken, point 3, prior to this announcement by the Majlis , has not been spoken of by any of these three leaders. If I am mistaken, please correct me.
And as I said at the outset of this post, like most other organisations, once a decision has been made, members would be expected to close ranks, regardless of their personal view on the matter.
Was there a need for the Majlis to make this decision now, with elections imminent?
Here, I speculate.
Look at the list of Majlis members again.
If any from amongst them will be contesting in the 13th GE, expect that it will be in a largely Malay Muslim and possibly conservative constituency.
To not come out with an announcement of their opinion, as laid out in point 3, would have laid themselves open to a vicious attack by UMNO and the Malay mainstream media, and may have cost them votes amongst the conservatives voters.
This announced opinion has effectively taken the wind out of that impending assault by UMNO.
Now, as against this opinion, not binding on all of us, there stands the decision of the High Court in December, 2009, declaring, amongst others, that the ban by the Home Ministry of the use of “Allah” in the Malay language Bibles was unconstitutional.
Sure, this decision is pending in the Court of Appeal, but, until otherwise overturned, it remains the position in law in this country.
Not just an opinion.
How is that decision to be defended?
Ensure that after we change the government at Putrajaya, the judiciary is restored to the rakyat.
Ensure that judges who take oath to defend, uphold and preserve the constitution, do precisely that, and not use their judicial office to further their religious views.
And take comfort that in your midst are Muslims who do not share the view of the Majlis and who will not remain silent if there is ever a move to give their point of view the force of law.
Please do not allow yourselves to be distracted by the views of a score of men from doing what we must collectively do : remove UMNO /BN from Putrajaya.