Democracy, Islam and Malaysia’s ruling party
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
JULY 22 — I think the ruling party in Malaysia has become a little bit confused about how they should be governing the country in this day and age.
We’ve all heard it mentioned that they fight for the rights of Malays and Islam . . . so much so that they are beginning to sound like a broken record.
Now why do I say they’re confused? Well, they seem to have this thinking whereby Islam rejects democracy when it is really the opposite.
They seem to think that the people should not have a voice and that the majority is what they determine instead of what the people determines.
By denying the people their right to express themselves and to determine how they are governed, as in the case of Bersih 2.0, they are really rejecting the Islamic way.
But it’s hard to blame them when many of the Islamic countries around the world reject democracy too and seem to embrace autocratic rule.
They seem to think that if they build tall buildings and expensive highways, then Malaysia would be considered a progressive and modern Islamic country.
But they failed to consider that by rejecting democracy and going for the all-popular autocratic route, they are really moving backwards and not being progressive at all.
Let’s go back to the early days of Islam when Prophet Muhammad was leading the Muslims all those hundreds of years ago.
He made it a point not to select a successor and left it to the people to do so. Hence, the first four caliphs; Abu Bakar, Omar, Osman and Ali, were chosen by the people.
It was only after all the fighting and wars fought that autocratic rule came to exist in Islam, with the Indian Mughals and the Baghdad Abbasids leading the way.
Now why did these groups of people advocate autocratic rule? It was because they suffered from the delusion that they were all elitists and had a right to rule.
So I would like to humbly remind the ruling party about the concept of Khilafat in Islam, whereby a state government needs to be ruled by the free choice of the people.
Khilafat also promotes the fundamental rights of all human beings irrespective of gender or creed, the independence of a judiciary, and, in this context, Shura.
Shura means the consultation of the people in a particular society by the people who are in that particular government.
The Quran states, in Surah Al Shura:
“Those who listen to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what we bestow on them for sustenance, [are praised].”
“The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrong doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a penalty grievous.”
And also in Surah Al Imran:
“So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”
As it is so obvious, Islamic governance, at its core, pushes for full, neutral and unbiased participation among the people and the government.
One of the factors that led to the fall of the great Abbasid empire was because their claim to rule was due to the fact that they were "born" to do it and it was hereditary.
Funnily enough, they tried to control their huge empire by relegating authority to local rulers, who ironically, passed on their rule to their sons in a very feudal fashion.
And so their empire crumbled.
So my advice to the ruling party in Malaysia would be to be more Islamic and embrace true democracy.
They may not realise it but what they are doing really will be the tipping point of when their empire will crumble.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.