Young “ustads” have “hijacked” PAS and swung the Islamic party towards a more restrictive brand of Islam, according to Khalid Samad of Parti Amanah Negara.
In their hands, “PAS is dangerous”, he told FMT because “they believe only they are Islamic and everyone else is wrong and an enemy of Islam”.
He said the young religious teachers were among those who had returned from studies in the Middle East and had, since 2010, played a more prominent role in PAS.
Khalid is a former member of PAS, on whose ticket he was elected MP for Shah Alam in 2008 and 2013. He was among a breakaway group that founded Amanah in September 2015.
He had been asked to comment on an online posting last Friday by Ahmad Dusuki Abdul Rani, the PAS candidate for the Kota Anggerik state seat in Selangor.
A campaign poster of Dusuki under the slogan “Kota Anggerik” was accompanied with the caption: “In the grave, if we are asked what religion we profess to, can we say ‘Islam’ if we fought Islam while we were on Earth? If we only took Islam as part of the whole of our lives?”
Online commenters criticised the posting, saying that the image gave the impression that those who failed to vote for PAS on May 9 could not truly be called Muslims.
Khalid acknowledged that PAS was once as hardline as many claim it now to be. At that time, before the mid-1980s, it was because of political competition between PAS and Umno.
The party had swung towards a more moderate stance under the late Ustaz Fadzil Noor, which was when Khalid joined PAS.
But the new group of religious teachers had emerged in recent times to “hijack” the party, he said.
“Prior to the mid-1980s, there was this same tendency (of taking a hard line) and the rift between PAS and Umno was very pronounced. Umno was very committed to secularism then and would make many extreme statements about Islamic teachings and Islamic law. This, unfortunately, led to the ‘kafir-mengkafir’ culture which marked much of PAS’ politics.”
However, Khalid said, PAS moved away from this after the so called “Young Turks” rose in 1983, to begin a new trend under the late Tuan Guru Yusof Rawa and Fadzil Noor.
A guiding principle then was the Arabic phrase ‘duat laa khuda’, of not passing judgment on others. “Although we claimed to champion Islamic politics, we did not accuse the others of being anti-Islam or deviant.”
He said the new group of young religious teachers were among those who returned from studies in the Middle East.
“They found it much easier to rise up in PAS by claiming they were Islamic while others weren’t. This led to the change in leadership in PAS and its increasing isolation from the other opposition parties.”
However, he had doubts whether postings such as that by Ahmad Dusuki would sway Muslim voters in Shah Alam. “Obviously, some will fall for this but I believe the majority of Shah Alam Muslims are not extreme in their understanding of Islam and will reject such views.”
Khalid said the Malays in Shah Alam, which he represented for two terms, were different from kampung Malays that he met in past campaigns in Kelantan, Perlis and Johor.
“Generally the Malays here are better educated and better informed, although they maintain some kampung ways. Many retired civil servants live in Shah Alam and they are a far cry from the Malays in the kampung.”
Khalid contested in the Kuala Krai seat, Kelantan, in 1986; Arau, Perlis, in 1990; and Sri Gading, Johor, in 1999. He won in Shah Alam in 2008 on his second attempt.