LAST_UPDATEMon, 21 May 2018 9am

Zakir Naik: A Coalition Government Of UMNO And PAS Will Strengthen Islam

2016 opened up a new chapter in Malaysian politics when two main Islamic parties − UMNO and PAS, sat alongside each other to work together for the sake of Islam, and to unify communities. To see both parties joining hands like in the 1970s is a little far-fetched, however it is not impossible.

Recently, prominent religious preacher, Dr Zakir Naik, suggested for UMNO and PAS to cooperate politically, as the coalition government will make Islam and the country stronger, he said after appearing for TV Al Hijrah’s talkshow ‘Persepsi’ programme.

According to him, a coalition of UMNO and PAS will be better for Malaysia as it will propel the country forward and strengthen Islam. This was the preacher’s honest point of view, as he wishes to see Muslims in unity, and believes that it will be a major milestone for the country.

The preacher’s call for a coalition government of UMNO and PAS attracted the attention of many parties, even leaving some feeling uneasy. In fact, PAS themselves had rejected the proposal, as expressed by its Secretary-General Takiyuddin Hassan.

Takiyuddin said in a statement that the party remains firm with its previous stance on the matter, in line with the decision made by the PAS Ulama Council which gathered on January 2, 2016 and decided that “PAS will never work together with Barisan Nasional”.

In fact, what was relayed by Dr Zakir was not far-off from the initial efforts made by members of the party that have forged an alliance over the past year.

The Shura Council of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) has also backed the opinion of Dr Zakir. According to its president Sharipuddin Ab Kadir, the consensus should not be limited to UMNO and PAS alone, but should involve all Malay and Bumiputera parties in the country.

Likewise, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, welcomed the suggestion saying that PAS and UMNO are inseparable despite the two having different ideologies. He believes that UMNO and PAS should forge a partnership by creating a coalition government for the sake of strengthening Islam in the country.

Despite PAS reaffirming its stance in not wanting to join hands with UMNO, its vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, has received the opinion with an open mind.

According to Takiyuddin, PAS has always adhered to the principles of Islam, one of which entails a mutual cooperation towards righteousness and piety. This principle is based on the words of Allah:

“O believers! Cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression. Have fear of Allah. Allah is stern in punishment.” (Surah Al-Maidah: 2)

Similarly, as narrated by Imam Bukhari, in the words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

“Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.” The Prophet was asked: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” He replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

Based on the passages above, PAS has been consistent in moving forward with any collaborative agenda when approached by any parties as long it leads toward righteousness and piety to strengthen Islam. This is in accordance with Article 6 (6) of PAS Constitution (Efforts) which states:

“Joining and cooperating with bodies, associations or organisations that are not inconsistent with the purpose or against PAS when it is necessary and appropriate and not conflicting with the national law.”

In the same time, Kelantan PAS Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari claims PAS respects the views of Dr Zakir Naik as an acclaimed international Muslim scholar. However, PAS will remain firm with its stance to not join forces with UMNO. PAS will continue with political maturity and peace, working with the government on issues that would benefit the people.

However, in the author’s point of view, PAS, that has long championed the Islamic laws is unable do it on their own. Which other party if not UMNO is able to support PAS’ efforts and at least empower the Syariah Court in Malaysia?

Perhaps in the past, UMNO became a hindrance to the implementation of hudud in Kelantan, but now, UMNO is a party that supports PAS’ efforts. To prove this, the Syariah Criminal Code II 1993 (Amendment 2015) which is 47 pages thick and presented by the Kelantan Legislative Assembly (DUN) in March 2015 had received the unanimous support of the Kelantan state assembly, including 12 UMNO members.

After a long political dispute between UMNO and PAS, now, it seems like there are more efforts to bridge both sides together, which includes the proposal from Dr Zakir Naik. As a member of the public who wishes to see this coming into realisation, the author believes that such cooperative measures should be established immediately for the sake of the people.

This cooperation does not mean that PAS should neglect its political ideology, but instead serve as an adviser to the government while still retaining its identity. As is written in surah al-Asr, “have faith and do righteous deeds and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.”

If PAS can cooperate with other parties that are un-Islamic like Pakatan Rakyat previously, why not do the same with UMNO in the BN? If non-Muslim parties demonstrate their political wisdom and can agree on certain issues despite the different ideologies, why do Muslims chose to remain divided and stay weak?

It is undeniable that PAS may hold some grudges from experiences of working with UMNO in the past, from 1973 to 1977. Especially with incidents like the 8 November 1977 Kelantan Emergency, and when PAS was expelled from the BN coalition on 13 December 1977, which has certainly left a deep scar on the party.

However, UMNO president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, have broken the barriers between the two parties that are supposedly arch enemies. In fact, UMNO and PAS have begun to unite on matters pertaining Islam. The PAS president had previously said that his party was ready to become a strong advocate for UMNO if the ruling party BN proves to govern the country with sincerity and its party based on Islamic teachings.

“If UMNO governs based on Islam, represents Islam in accordance with the guidance of Allah, not the Islam to win the votes of the people; but sincerely for Allah, we will ensure Islam is vindicated. PAS is not power greedy or fighting for positions. PAS only wants to vindicate Islam,” said Abdul Hadi during the launch of Himpunan Harapan Rakyat in Kampung Padang Mengkuang, Marang, Terengganu on 28 February 2016.

This is not the first time PAS has publicly displayed its support towards UMNO. In November last year, Abdul Hadi had expressed interest for PAS to act as an adviser to the government. He said PAS is striving to bring a change to the government policy rather than helming positions or rule the country.

PAS Youth chief Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz also said that PAS is willing to cooperate with UMNO if it is aligned towards Islamic principles.According to him, “if the government truly wants to find solutions to problems the Islamic way, we will help in steering the government in this direction. There is no reason for us to be in the ruling coalition because what we want is a change in country's system.”

Despite all these talks about cooperation, there is still a long way to go as many challenges lie ahead for both parties, especially internally, between the PAS and UMNO leaders. And although it is unrealistic to see both parties joining forces in the near future, many members of the public are expecting a cooperation between the two main Islamic parties in the country, for the sake of strengthening Islam.

What is certain is that if it does happen one day, a coalition of UMNO and PAS governing national development and Islamic principles for the benefit of the people will pave way for a new political landscape in Malaysia.


Johari Yap
Chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Kelantan Branch