Friday, February 20, 2009

A Question Of Morality

As such, it would be wiser for Pas not to open up Pandora's box on this issue of morality at this juncture. It can only create differences within a ruling coalition which is being besieged by its external enemies.

Khalid Samad, The Malaysian Insider

I was told that Selangor Pas released a statement which, among others, requested that Elizabeth Wong be investigated for any moral wrongdoings as a result of this “scandal” of her nude photos and, if found to be guilty, she is then to be “suitably” punished. The statement also talks of the need for all PR elected representatives to be morally upright so as to be examples to be emulated by all.

Unfortunately I have to comment on this statement which I believe is very ill-advised. Before that I do have to clarify that the meeting held by Selangor Pas prior to the release of the statement was a meeting of the Dewan Harian, which is made up of the state commissioner and all other appointed office bearers. It was not the full state meeting as such.

Secondly, and this is the crux of the issue, PR is not Pas! For Pas we have a clearly defined set of right and wrong, moral and immoral and although it may have similarities with some universal values, there are some huge differences particularly in that of the “personal arena”. What Pas and Islam see as immoral may be something quite acceptable in the eyes of other cultures. Take the question of drinking wine, for example.

Similarly, there are items which Islam accepts, which to other cultures is not quite as acceptable. The easiest example here would be polygamy.

As such, it would be wiser for Pas not to open up Pandora's box on this issue of morality at this juncture. It can only create differences within a ruling coalition which is being besieged by its external enemies. We can avoid this awkward situation by identifying clear boundaries while understanding that the coalition is made up of different parties with different views and values but agreeing on the specific socio-economic and political agendas which we wish to pursue. On matters of personal discipline of party members, we leave that to the parties themselves to decide on what they wish to implement and enforce, if anything. We should avoid imposing our values and beliefs on others. This is even more relevant when we acknowledge that Elizabeth Wong is not a Muslim.

The proposal to let each party handle its members is akin to what was practiced by the Holy Prophet in his agreement with the different communities in Medina.

The call for the PR elected representatives to be models of morally upright individuals to be emulated by others is again something which many PR elected representatives may not subscribe to. I imagine some of the PR elected representatives reading the statement with complete bewilderment, shaking their heads saying, "I never knew I would have to play this role!"

Even for Pas, as an Islamic party, our message is that the Muslim youth should emulate the Prophet and his illustrious companions and not ourselves as we too are but mere followers. I cannot for the life of me, knowing my personal weaknesses, project myself as a model for anyone to follow. Maybe others can; on that I have no comment.

Then there is this issue of “suitable punishment”. (Hmmmm, wonder what they have in mind). I have no idea where this zealousness for punishment comes from. I remember Datuk Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang's lecture where he told us of a case in the time of the Prophet. A man came and admitted to the Prophet that he had committed adultery and requested that he be punished. The Holy Prophet remained silent and turned away from him. The man came in front of the Prophet and repeated his admission and request. The Holy Prophet responded in the same manner, turning away from him. The man came in front of the Prophet again and repeated the admission and request for the third time. The Prophet then asked the companions who were there witnessing this incident to take the man away and punish him as he requested.

Later the companions returned and reported to the Prophet that the man, prior to being punished, had a change of heart and ran away. They chased him and meted out the punishment. The Holy Prophet looked at his companions and asked: "Why did you chase him? You should have let him go".

From the short story it is clear that there is no zealousness in the meting out of punishment. The Prophet only consented when the man showed great remorse for having sinned and wished himself to be cleansed. However, if that was no longer the case, the need was no longer there. Note also how the man was not questioned who his partner was. No thumbscrews. No witch hunt.

Actually it is this kind of zealousness which the non-Muslims fear from Pas and this is where we must emulate the spirit of the Islam more accurately. We should not become zealous moralists who wish to enforce their moral code on others. As I always say, preach, reason and argue with them in the best of ways. Never give them the impression that we wish to impose something on them irrespective of how noble the intentions. That was the way of the Prophet and that too must be our way.

Lastly, I wish to state that this is not a case where the complainant wishes to see some form of justice or goodness prevail. It is not a case of a person bringing to the kadi or judge a report of “immorality” on the part of so and so. It is on the other hand a smear campaign and should be handled as such. If the Quran teaches us to be wary of reports brought in by dubious persons, what more of cases which are clearly aimed at discrediting and maligning a person. The wickedness intended alone should suffice for everyone to reject the proposition, confiscate all the photos and ignore the issue altogether. If the Malaysian public can behave in the same manner as the people of Coventry when Lady Godiva rode through town in the nude, the problem would be easily solved.

Khalid Samad is MP for Shah Alam. He is also head of the Shah Alam Pas division and also a member of the Pas political bureau, which is the most powerful bureau in the party. His website is www.khalidsama

From : Malaysia-Today

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