Posted in Islam

Whose Islam? Umno: Muslim Malay; PAS: Malay Muslim (1)

“What were the Malays of the 1950s and 60s like?”

By Conrad

Original comment @ 2013/02/26 at 7:12 am

Probably the kind of post-colonial Malays that Mahathir hated but the only kind that could produce the Malay Dilemma. I suppose it is the old story of class conflict but conveniently misdiagnosed as race tensions.

BN gave up the progressive Islamic middle ground some time ago. Some people are dismissive of the idea that Anwar Ibrahim played a role in this or that post fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of political Islam have had a fucked effect on Islam in Malaysia.

It was not all UMNO’s doing (but of course I blame them more, since they were (are) leading the country) but also PAS who were far more “leftist” orientated than any of the other political entities in this country but who chose the simpler Islamic route as a means of solidarity.

I have very little sympathy for the hypocrites in UMNO who played the Islamic card against the Non-Muslims all the while trying to out Islamize PAS.

The DAP attempting to define what is and is not an “acceptable Malay/Muslim” plays well with urban voters and as a means for controlling the race and religion discourse but is ultimately hollow simply because they fund or draw support from the forces of intolerance be it Islam or Christianity.

The “tudung girls” of the DAP are muhibbah porn for kool aid drinkers but in reality nothing more than subterfuge in an ongoing culture war.

Original comment @ 2013/02/26 at 6:10 pm | In reply to vector

Re: out Islamize PAS

Are you denying that the Malay polity has not undergone a process of Islamization or Arabisation and this happened under UMNO’s stewardship of this country?

Keep in mind that Anwar Ibrahim is on record as saying that he was part of this movement of political Islam.

Are you denying the rhetoric of UMNO when it comes to questioning PAS’s Islamic credentials ?

Re: questioning PAS’s brand of Islam

You do realize that by questioning PAS’s brand of Islam the implication is that UMNO has its own brand that it wants to promote.

We can only judge what each brand has to offer by the social changes in Malay community.

How you choose to interpret this UMNO/PAS dialectic is up to you but I do not think there is any argument that the only logical conclusion we can arrive at, is that a progressive form of Islam was never in the cards when it comes to PAS or UMNO.

Original comment @ 2013/02/27 at 1:46 am | In reply to anonymous

Re anonymous with a small “a”:

I hardly think I was dismissing UMNO for chasing the Malay vote. As you point out everyone including the DAP is chasing the Muslim vote.

As far as the Arabisation process is concerned, it goes way beyond the cosmetic detail you mentioned to how Islam is interpreted and practiced.

I am very well aware that Islam is a way of life for Malays but part of the point of this blog post was to demonstrate how it has changed over the years and the underlying philosophies and hypocrisies of those who claim guardianship over the religion, UMNO and PAS.

I do not for one-minute think that the way that PAS types live and what they want implemented means they are way behind the times.

Depending on the issue UMNO (now) takes the hardline, PAS (now) takes the moderate stance, and the two Islamic entities vacillate between the two positions depending on how each thinks it will play in the Malay/Muslim demographic.

(from left): Movie stars Zaiton, Hashimah Yon & Saloma (1959)
(from left): Movie stars Zaiton, Hashimah Yon & Saloma (1959)

As to what kind of progressive Islam I have in mind and which party best promotes it. The answer is simple. I want to go back to the time in the photograph [above].

What I want is the Islam of Malaysia of the kind observed in the 40’ and 50’. No Islamic party promotes this now. So maybe instead of progressive we can call it retro (at least in the Malaysian context).

Original comment @ 2013/02/27 at 7:17 pm | In reply to anonymous

Re: Admiration of retro Malays and asking the impossible

I never said I admired the retro Malay. You asked for my definition of “progressive” Islam and I gave it to you. Is it impossible for the Malays to separate religion from their politics and social life?

I do not think so. The current so called split in the Malay community includes a range of issues from class conflicts, personality politics, the conflation of religious and racial cards and the definitional arguments of what is Islam.

Re: those times were when Malays were Malays instead of Malay Muslims

I disagree. I think those were times when the Malay community did not define themselves solely by their religion not that they showed any less commitment to their faith.

The Malay Muslim meme is a concoction of UMNO that as I explained earlier was designed place the Malay Muslim community in perpetual siegedom and as shorthand for unity.

This is certainly ironic since on his recent visit to the Troubled Lands, none other than the Abbas administration accused PM Najib of spreading disunity in the Muslim Palestinian community.

Re: Changes in the Malay Muslim community

While I agree with you that globalization has had an effect on the Malay Muslim community as it has on every other community, I think we should not let this detract from the fact that it is UMNO not PAS that has shaped Islam here in Malaysia (or rather PAS did shape it in a fall guy/boogeyman kind of way).

Earlier you dismissed my argument of the Arabisation process of the community. Here you say that outside forces shaped Malay Muslim community.

It is UMNO, which has been the gatekeeper to Islamic thought and how the outside forces shaped Islam, is predicated on how much pressure UMNO allowed in.

Re: Changes triggered by Non-Muslims and LGE backstabbing PAS

While I agree that Malay Muslim politics are reactionary, I would say the only constructive approach would be to examine each issue and discover if the controversy was manufactured by UMNO (which there is plenty of evidence of) or that if Non-Muslims engineered the controversies.

The example you offered is LGE backstabbing PAS. I have no argument here. The issue was settled and LGE chose cheap publicity and scaremongering over rational reconciliatory politics. PAS was forced to backtrack on earlier commitments.

I am on record as saying that UMNO can claim the high ground here and I detest UMNO.

Re: your last two paragraphs

Sorry but I do not understand what you are attempting to convey.

If you are saying (please correct me if I am wrong) that

(1) PAS and its supporters have had to make sacrifices in holding the middle ground and my “disbelief” is insulting, then let me dissuade you from this notion. I believe that PAS is the only ideologically pure political party in this mess.

The ebb and flow of moderation is in its quest for power is justified within doctrinal context that is often mocked by UMNO/BN and sometimes even by the so-called “politics of love[rs]”.

(2) When non-muslims (DAP) preach using the Koran is the height of hypocrisy and this point to the moral bankruptcy of oppositional politics.

Then yes, I would agree with you simply because I do not think that the religious card should be used in politics (which is unfortunately a minority view) and certainly not by religious charlatans like the DAP who would use Islam when it is political expedient to do so, much like their nemesis UMNO.

Tun Rahah Noah wanita moden tahun 1960-an
Tun Rahah Noah, wife of Tun Razak

Re: Photo Helen posted.

We are on the same page. It is a wonderful photo and I would welcome folks who lived through those times or heard stories from it to relate their experiences on this thread.

Original comment @ 2013/02/28 at 8:26 am | In reply to anonymous

I do not wish for Malays to separate religion from politics and social life. I am saying that they are already separated (at least by definition) with the conflict between PAS and UMNO.

On the one hand you claim that PAS values Islam more than getting along with Malays and on the other you claim that by attempting the middle ground (which you think Malays are excluded from) they are betraying Islam. It is all very confusing.

If the Malays are truly under siege like you claim then why is there a split in the Malay community with one side believing this UMNO narrative and the other skeptical of it.

I am glad you acknowledge the splits in other Muslim communities like the Palestinian schism. However, my reference to Najib was the contradiction of attempting Muslim unity here but sowing Muslim disunity abroad.

What I mean by UMNO’s role as gatekeeper is merely that UMNO controls the kind of influences that Malaysian Muslims are exposed to. If you claim that Malaysian Muslims are conservative and you acknowledge that the retro Muslims were of different temperament, than you have to ask yourself what were the state sanctioned influences that changed and shaped this mindset.

In addition, where did it come from, when as you say, Muslims here in Malaysia are influenced by the greater Muslims “struggles” worldwide.

Your characterization of the PAS/DAP dynamic is the usual UMNO propaganda. While I may agree it is a sham, (an uncharitable view since most coalitions (any in the world) of differing ideologies attempt to claim the middle ground) this is no different from Mahathir/UMNO claiming that Malaysia is an Islamic state but all the while attempting moderation with its coalition partners.

While in reality there may not be much difference in the Islamic belief systems of UMNO and PAS, each has its own way of attaining the middle ground, where most Malaysians reside.

You claim that PAS subservience to the DAP is a sign of hypocrisy but fail to consider that UMNO wanting desperately to convince the non-Muslims of it moderation could be hypocritical too.

You may think that PAS attempting the middle ground is ideologically impure but as I said, this is justified within a doctrinal context. You may believe that Islam is static and in most places in the world it is but there are others ideas in Islam beyond conservative xenophobic ones and these are justified with interpretations from the Koran.

You would only think that this is a betrayal of Islam if you believed in a narrow interpretation of the Koran and if you believed this, I would ask you to consider if UMNO has ever had a narrow interpretation of the Koran and applied it strictly in its rule of this country.

If the PAS/DAP partnership is a sham then any partnership with an Islamic entity is a sham if the middle ground is attempted. This would mean that UMNO is immoral and hypocritical if they claim that they are the defenders of Islam all the while making noises of moderation towards the non-Muslim community.

I do think this discussion has run its course and we would end up just repeating talking points if we continue. Thanks for being civil.

***   ***   ***

I think the above are indeed very well-articulated comments. I greatly appreciate Conrad taking the time and trouble to pen these thoughts and insight to share with our blog readers.

Part 2 of this forum with continue with the input by ‘anonymous’ who was involved in the series of exchanges above with Conrad and Part 3 will be my short contribution. Thank you for reading, and again my thanks to Conrad and anon-with-the-small-‘a’ for writing. — Helen


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7 thoughts on “Whose Islam? Umno: Muslim Malay; PAS: Malay Muslim (1)

  1. Dear Helen,

    Islam belongs to Allah. Thus it belongs neither to PAS nor UMNO nor the Malays in general. Unfortunately, PAS treats Islam as if it was the party’s exclusive possession. To me the brand of Islam that PAS propogates is not the kind of Islam sent by Allah swt to Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

    The ulamaks in PAS know that there are muslims who are addicted to religion like addiction to drugs and I look at these PAS supporters more of religion-addicts instead of true believers Islam.

    1. Ditto the evangelistas.

      Charismatic churches are new creations. They do not have the tradition of the old churches like the Anglicans, Lutherans or the Catholics.

      They can be like City Harvest, scandalous! The CHC in Subang Jaya was only established in July 2001.

      Malaysians must beware the DAP evangelistas just as we beware the PAS mullahs and their behaviour.

      1. This exciting times indeed in the world. Religion as we know them, hell and heavens and brimstone as in Catholics and Evangelistas are dying in the modern western world. Even the Pope who pretend to be the voice of God on earth has resigned. There is no fun anymore when you cannot touch the altar boys or girls.

        What is the use of all that wealth when you cant enjoy the sex as the priests of yesteryears.

        In the middle east, the youths and men and women suddenly discovered they have not enjoy the world as others in the west and have started the Arab Spring.

        As we know spring is the time of awakening and reborn and sex. So will Islam be the same again? Islam depends very much on the mystery of Saudi Arabia. But just like the Catholics Pope, the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia actually owns Islam through the kaabah and holy pilgrimage.

        As the Arabs youth themselves realise there is other enjoyable of lives, they did the Harlem Dance in front of the told time Islamic Brotherhoods whose credos of sexual denials is running out of steam.

        Here in Malaysia, everyone is enjoying sex from MCA chief to PAS chief to PKR chief. What is religion if not denial of sexual pleasures through the ages?

        And PAS acceptance that sex is inevitable hence even kafirs and godless people like DAP are acceptable means that Arab religion is fading. Whipping Malay women for drinking Carlsberg is ridiculous just because Omar an Arab whipped a drunken arab centuries ago. There is no justification of mediaeval Arabic lifestyles.

        Tudung clad Malay women doesnt mean that they are sexually inhibited like Arab women.

        On the contrary the freedom of mixing with the opposite sex, sexual acitivities are on the rise. So Islam will just be a show for each other while in reality AI or Mat Sabu an other ustaz or ustazah lives hedonistic lifestyles.

        1. re: “Here in Malaysia, everyone is enjoying sex from MCA chief to PAS chief to PKR chief.”

          Tak kan Umno chief dan DAP chief takde?

          1. DAP flying saucer incidents shows that DAP chiefs are enjoying a bit on the side as well. But you are not surprised as DAP are socialists and godless and you expect them to enjoy sex among the cadres like the communists.

            As for UMNO, it has the been the lifestyles of the Malays with love stories under the moon since time immemorial. Its the reason why PAS Malays are envious of the sexual side of UMNO men.

            Long lists of famous lovers and rumours of actresses and singers like Ghazali,Shafee, that Sabahan Bung MP, Affendi dating actresses are the reasons for UMNO longevity. Malay women dont like PAS men seriousness. The sexual fun in UMNO is why Malay women voted for UMNO everytime. Just look at Trengganu, PAS men only control one term, curbing fun and then that fat pious Hadi was voted out by Trengganu women!

            That is the reason we have free wheeling Islam in Malaysia today. Anything goes…. as long as it start with assalamualikum.

            Or the top hair remain covered..

    2. You are so right. The fact is that religion exist in the mind of individuals. But they organised themselves to bring advantage to themselves. The women slaves, money and power. As we can see in IS each individual believe in an ideal but at the same time are hoping it will benefit them. The IS is a good social study at how primitive societies evolved. With the right cruelty and zealousness they goad themselves to kill and torture others without conscience.
      Thus it is with current religious situation in Malaysia. The Chinese coolies and Indian pariah labourers all seek to improve their position in the liberal and social vacuum in Malaysia. They use Jesus the jew as a social ladder escaping from yheir cate and lowly position. The Malay natives couldnt care less about the chinese coolies and wouldnt hv noticed until the like of Hannah Yeoh or Wong Chun Wai start to challenge the native malays.

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