Friday, August 22, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim at the Inaugural Session – International Ulema Conference, Istanbul 20th August 2014

Ulema and their impact on the Umma 

(Address by Anwar Ibrahim at the Inaugural Session – International Ulema Conference, Istanbul 20th August 2014)

Congratulates RT Erdogan

Let me just take a moment to congratulate Prime Minister and now President Designate Tayyip Recep Erdogan on his overwhelming victory through the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the recently concluded presidential elections.

For the first time ever in the history of democratic Turkey such an election has been held and it is truly indicative of a huge positive impact in political and democratic reform. I am confident that Turkey has now taken another major step forward in proving beyond any doubt that democracy, freedom and justice are not only compatible with Islam but are essential for the progress and well-being of the umma.

Commends role of Al-Qaradhawi – examplary alim

Let me also take this opportunity to express the greatest appreciation to al Fadhil Shaykh Dr Yusuf al-Qhardawi who is not just the world’s leading authority in Islamic jurisprudence but, to my mind, more significantly, a champion for the cause of justice and freedom in the true Islamic sense.

In the face of constant oppression, mistreatment and injustice from the powers that be in his homeland and some other Arab countries as well as being subjected to a systematic campaign of character assassination by the West, Shaykh al-Qhardawi has remained steadfast in his convictions that if we are truly sincere in our struggles for peace and justice in the name of Islam, then we need only fear Allah s.w.t.

Ulama and justice

In this regard, we are indeed grateful that he has contributed so immensely to the uplift of the role of the ulema in this fast changing world and in the process has helped to move the discourse on Islam, the Shari’ah and justice to a level that resonates with the new ideals and aspirations of the new generation.

In the history of Islamic civilization, the ulema have occupied a central place in shaping the course of events that have a direct impact on the umma. In the process, they have contributed significantly to political and socio-economic changes in Muslim societies, some for better and some for worse.

One prominent feature of the role of the ulema has been and continues to be their relationship and interaction with the powers that be. In fact, it has been said that the extent of their influence on the people is very much dependent on the extent of their proximity with those powers.

Historically, their rise or fall was in the hands of the ruling government. We know that under Mustafa Kemal the influence of the ulema in Turkey virtually disappeared.

In Syria under the Ba’athist regime of Hafiz al-Asad, Islamists were slaughtered by the thousands and membership in the Muslim Brotherhood became a capital crime. Similar faiths befell the Brotherhood and ulema staunchly opposed to the secular and dictatorial regimes in Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar el-Sadat.

In contrast, in Turkey today, the ulema are regaining their pride of place and are actively contributing to the national discourse on moving the umma to the next level.

The true ulema command our greatest respect because they have dedicated their lives to the cause of Islam and justice. They fear none except Allah. I say true ulema because there are those who are called ‘ulema’ or hold themselves out as‘ulema’ but when tested, it appears that they fear Man more than they fear God.

“Allah bears witness that there is no god but Him, so do the angels and those with knowledge upholding justice. There is no god but Him, the Almighty, All-Wise.” (Qur’an ‘ali Imran 3:18)
These are the true ulema for they are not just ‘ulul ‘ilmi’ but ‘qaa-imambilqisti’.

Therefore, ulema worthy of our highest respect are those who, in the name of justice, can stand up to dictators, tyrants and oppressive rulers. Imam Yahya an-Nawawi was one of them.

He refused Sultan al-Zahir Baibars’ request for a fatwa to legitimize further taxation on the people in order to finance his wars against the Mongols. While other so-called ulema obeyed, Imam an-Nawawi refused and told the ruler:

“I have heard that you have one thousand male slaves and each one of them has a girth of gold. And you have two hundred slave girls and each of them has a portion of gold jewellery. If you spend all of that and you leave your slaves with straps and dyes instead of the gold girths, and you leave the slaves girls with their clothing and no jewellery, then I will give you a fatwa that you can take wealth from the citizenry.”

We know of course what price Imam an-Nawawi had to pay for this. The Sultan became angry and banished him from Damascus.

Just for the record, this was no mediocre ruler of the Islamic world. He was the first Sultan of the Bahri Mamluk dynasty of 13th century. He had defeated the crusaders in at least three major campaigns, and had led the Muslim army to victory against the Mongols in the famous Battle of Ain Jalut.

In terms of governance, he was exemplary in building the necessary infrastructure for the progress of the umma, and paid particular attention to nurturing development in the Islamic sciences.

But Baibars was human and not infallible. So, when the test came for Imam an-Nawawi, his choice was clear.


Coming back to Egypt, in order to fight the Islamist and after democratic opposition, we know how the dictators such as Nasser and Sadat relied on Al-Azhar ulema to go on government controlled media to condemn them.

In the present day, the January 25 Revolution gave the Egyptian people a golden opportunity to taste true freedom and democracy. Unfortunately, after being democratically elected as President, Morsi was never really given a chance to take Egypt to the next level as the traitors of the revolution and enemies of freedom and justice were busy plotting to take Egypt back to its pre-democracy days.

So, on 3 July last year, General Al-Sisi, on the pretext of fulfilling the people’s wishes, staged a military coup. Ulema throughout the Middle East and in other parts of the Muslim world roundly condemned it.

Unfortunately, the grand imam of al-Azhar whose fatwa condemning it would have the greatest impact, did exactly the opposite. Was this fatwa issued in the name of freedom and justice? Or was it in the name of supporting oppression and injustice?

As we know, the coup was followed by a reign of terror. Thousands of civilians, women and children were slaughtered while the United States, the European Union and most shamefully, many of the Arab states, stood by.

The Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organisation and those fighting for freedom and democracy punished with death or life imprisonment. Three journalists from al-Jazeera were held for months without trial and later tried by kangaroo court given severe sentences.


As for Gaza, the truth remains stark. Since July 8, more than 1700 Palestinians have been butchered by the Israeli government.

On the pretext of responding to rockets from Hamas, the IDF has unleashed a new phase of genocide that has caused unimaginable suffering. This mass murder of Palestinian civilians was committed with utter impunity in the face of world-wide condemnation.

The state of Israel, supported by their immense propaganda machine with the connivance of the western media, has been trying to justify its war crimes by representing Hamas as a terrorist organisation and that the relentless bombardment of civilian populations is an act of self-defence.

Firstly, Hamas is an organisation democratically elected by the Palestinian people. Secondly, just last April, they joined hands with the Palestinian faction particularly Fatah to work towards peace. They had pledged to adopt the three basic principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements.

This cannot be the acts of a terrorist organisation. As former U.S. President Carter has declared, these are the acts of a legitimate political actor, representing a substantial portion of the Palestinian people, who are committed to peace.

The fact of the matter is that it is Israel that has rejected this golden opportunity for peace. No amount of spin doctoring can ever justify the way the Israeli Defense Forces have unleashed their bombs and missiles on Gaza, destroying thousands of homes and displacing more than a quarter million Palestinians. They even bombed mosques, schools and UN shelters.

It is therefore clear who the real terrorists are. It is clear who are the ones committing ethnic cleansing. And it is clear who is trying to wipe who off the map of the world.

Fanaticism must be condemned

Meanwhile, the sectarian conflict in the Middle East shows no sign of abating. On the contrary, we have witnessed increasing violence and brutal killings.

Supported by external forces, the take-over by ISIS and the declaration of an Islamic caliphate in northern Iraq and south eastern Syria and the atrocities committed in the name of Islam is a classic example of religious fanaticism gone wild.

Whatever may be the causes, at the end of the day, the victims this orgy of violence, killing and bloodshed are the helpless civilians, women and children.

True Jihad

These conflicts have far reaching consequences going beyond the Middle East. In this regard, the role of the ulema cannot be overstated. The Muslim world must take decisive action. The atrocities committed by ISIS must be condemned unequivocally. And whether it is Sunni or Shia or other denominations, indiscriminate killing can never be justified. The ulema must do their utmost to bring to bear their influence on all extremist groups.

Similarly, other extreme groups like Boko Haram and al-Shabab continue to spread violence and terror across the world. The ulema must also condemn these and other similar organisations and make it clear they are the enemies of Islam.

These extremist groups trumpeting the labels of Shari’a rule and Islamic state are hijacking Islam to justify their perverse and barbaric ways. There is nothing holy about slaughtering people for not converting to Islam. There is no jihad for raping women or kidnapping girls from their schools and homes and using them as bargaining chips.

And there is no Islamic caliphate or Islamic state that is built on the altar of bloodshed, violence and hatred. These are the very characteristics shunned by Islam.

The ulema must embark on a new and true jihad to reclaim the ground that is being usurped by these criminals and mass murderers.

“Allah will raise in ranks those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge. Allah is aware of what you do.” (Qur’an surah al-mujaadila 58:11)

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Politik dan Orang Berpikir

Bicara Budaya dalam “”,  DAP


Politik dan Orang Berpikir – Muhammad Nazreen
21 April 2014

Penyajak Bertolt Brecht pernah menyebut: Jika kita tak fikir pasal politik, politik tetap memikirkan kita!
Senang cerita, hendak atau tidak, kita tak boleh lepas dari politik. Politik tetap berperanan dalam kehidupan kita. Orang menolak untuk ambil tahu tentang politik, sebenarnya dengan cara itu mereka sendiri mengambil sikap politik.

Namun, politik di tahap unggulnya adalah seni yang segala mungkin. Orang berpikir (intelektual) barangkali gagal menahan godaan untuk berpolitik. Mereka beranggapan bahawa politik adalah segala-galanya dan “the end justifies the means.”

Politik, dalam cita-cita ahli falsafah Greek Plato, wajar diterajui oleh orang yang berpikir dan orang yang ada keinginan untuk berfalsafah. Plato mengutarakan konsep ‘philosopher king’ atau orang berpikir sebagai pemimpin.

Intelektual yang baik tidak terlepas untuk membicarakan politik. Menurut Edward Said, pemihakan terhadap golongan tertindas hanya berlaku apabila intelektual ambil tahu untuk terlibat politik.

Sikap pemihakan oleh intelektual yang berpolitik, bukan semestinya baik. Ada kalanya, mereka memilih sikap songsang. Intelektual boleh jadi penindas, jika tidak sebaliknya memilih untuk melawan penindasan. Sesetengah ‘orang berpikir’ ada kegilaan tersendiri.

Dalam syarahan Reith Lecture, anjuran BBC, pada tahun 1994, Edward Said ada menyebut tentang makalah ‘Treason of The Intellectual’ (Pengkhianatan Intelektual) oleh Julien Benda. Makalah ini mengingatkan kita akan bahaya orang intelektual yang di saat agungnya memilih untuk bersama kejahatan.

Edward Said, dalam syarahan yang sama memberi contoh tentang manipulasi golongan pemikir dalam pentadbiran yang zalim. Dia memetik peranan Milton Friedman dan ‘Chicago Boys’ di sebalik kudeta di Chile tahun 1953 ; serta penglibatan Henry Kissinger, bekas setiausaha Amerika Syarikat, sepanjang perang dingin.

Edward turut menyebut tentang Zbiegniew Brezynski, strategis kelahiran Poland yang berkompromi dengan CIA untuk mengukuhkan hegemoni Amerika Syarikat di negara-negara Eropah.

Di saat itu, intelektual atau ‘orang berpikir’ ini merupakan senjata ampuh untuk melebarkan kekuasaan.
Barangkali, mereka lebih diktator daripada diktator, lebih zalim daripada penzalim. Ulasan buku kali ini bertumpu kepada hasil karya Mark Lilla, The Reckless Mind – Intellectuals in Politics.

Mark Lilla, seorang pensyarah sains sosial dan falsafah di salah sebuah universiti “ivy league” di Amerika Syarikat mengkaji pemikiran beberapa intelektual yang berpengaruh dalam lapangan sains sosial dan falsafah moden dan pada masa yang sama berkompromi dengan rejim diktator.

Hal ini amat ironis menurut Lilla. Intelektual, selain mengembangkan wacana tentang idea, secara tak langsung menyumbang ke arah pengukuhan tirani.

Dalam buku tersebut, Lilla bermula dengan pertanyaan falsafah Plato di dalam ‘Lure of Syracruse’ yang berkisar tentang orang berpikir dan godaan politik. Politik dianggap persuasif, mendorong orang falsafah mendekatinya.

Lilla menceritakan perjalanan sejarah pemikir seperti Alexandre Kojeve, Michel Foucault, Martin Heidegger dan Carl Schmitt. Mereka adalah intelektual yang mempunyai kecenderungan untuk berlaku songsang.

Heidegger dan Schmitt misalnya adalah intelektual penting abad ke-19. Tetapi simpati mereka terhadap perjuangan Nazisme tidak ada batasnya.

Heidegger dianggap sebagai pendukung besar parti Nasionalis Jerman dan seorang anti-semitik. Carl Schmitt, pemikir perundangan penting di Jerman, adalah arkitek di belakang cita-cita Hitler untuk menguasai Eropah.

Buku ini adalah ‘ruang terbalik’ buat intelektual dan politik. Lilla meneroka di sebalik kegelapan orang berpikir dalam dunia politik. Politik bukan sahaja alat untuk mencapai keadilan, tetapi di tahap bahayanya adalah sebahagian daripada ancaman terhadap keadilan itu sendiri.

The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics
Penulis : Mark Lilla
Terbitan: New York Review of Book (2010)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Babi, Manusia dan Kuasa dari kacamata George Orwell

Jika kita perhatikan tamsil bidalan George Orwell dalam novel satiranya yang tersohor “Animal Farm”, manusia dan babi itu sama saja serakah dan hodoh kelakuannya pabila memperolehi kuasa.  Dalam ayat terakhir novel yang diterjemahkan menjadi “Kandang Politik”, ITBM:2014 oleh Al-Mustataqeem Mahmod Radhi, kita temui gambaran sinikal berikut:

“Makhluk-makhluk di luar beralih melihat daripada babi kepada manusia, kemudian daripada manusia kepada babi, dan kemudian sekali lagi daripada babi kepada manusia; namun mustahil kini untuk membezakan antara kedua-duanya.”

Jadi apakah tidak tepat jika George Orwell yakin sekali yang manusia dan babi itu sama saja pabila dijangkiti virus gila kuasa?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hantu raya dan tuannya

Sejadah Kuasa

Kuasa, biar betapa kecil sekali pun ia, sentiasa saja lazat menyedapkan.  Sebagai tempat bersujud berzikir ia adalah pemberi nikmat yang tidak ada taranya di alam ini; semakin kyusuk sujudnya,  semakin terasa lazat nikmatnya.  Oleh itu sungguh maha rugilah mereka yang bermalas-malasan sehingga tidak sudi untuk bersenang-senang dengan membawa dahinya ke sejadah kuasa.  Sesungguhnya, sejadah kuasa adalah penyedap yang tak tergambarkan kesyahduannya apatah buat sang pewirid yang pertama kali sujud di atasnya.

Kuasa itu dagangan yang sedap lagi menyedapkan dan oleh kerana itu tidaklah memeranjatkan jika kuasa kadang kala menjelma dan melembaga sehingga menjadi berhantu ia.  Dan seperti hantu raya yang tidak mahu meninggalkan tuannya ― walaupun tuannya sedang tercungap-cungap diintai mati yang pasti ― sang peyandang kuasa juga tidak mahu berpisah dengan sejadah kuasa yang pernah dipinjamkan kepadanya. Penyandang dan kuasanya, mahunya berpisah tidak.  Mereka ingin sehidup dan semati buat selama-lamanya.        

Nikmat sujud di sejadah kuasa itu kadang kala mampu mengalahkan kuasa cinta yang (katanya) buta.  Kita melihat bagaimana sang Raja meninggalkan takhta kerana ingin bersama kekasih yang digilainya separuh nyawa itu.  Dan jangan terkejut jika ‘nikmat’ sujud di atas sejadah kuasa itu mampu memburaikan ikatan serban yang sekian lama membelit dan melingkari kepala.  Bukan sesuatu yang aneh jika sejadah kuasa yang membawa bersamanya habuan, nikmat dan kemanisan dunia kerap juga melondehkan wajah sebenar para agamawan.

Makanya segala cakap-cakap tentang iman, akhlak, kesabaran, ujian, dugaan, hukum hakam, arahan dan suruhan agama yang muluk-muluk itu tidak boleh sama sekali dijadikan kayu ukur kehebatan seseorang agamawan sehinggalah ia diuji oleh nikmat bersujud di atas sejadah kuasa.  Dan jangan lupa bahawa yang diuji itu tidak semestinya bersabit dan mengenai hanya batang tubuh sang agamawan itu semata-mata.  Segala yang ada di sekelilingnya boleh saja menjadi sasaran dugaan dan bahan ujian.  Maknanya seseorang agamawan tersohor itu boleh diuji via nafsu serakah menantunya, anak, bini dan cucu cicit tersayangnya.  Dan percayalah bukan semua agamawan boleh lulus ujian yang melibatkan anak menantunya.  Satu bentuk ujian via anak,  menantu atau bini-bini kesayangan kadang kala jauh lebih payah dikalahkan jika dibandingkan dengan segala macam ujian sengit dalam beribu-ribu pertempuran politik.  

Kita ulangi, salah satu ujian besar untuk orang-orang kerap bersurahkan hal-hal agama ialah pabila dia dihulurkan sekeping sejadah kuasa.  Jika perangai sebenar si tukang syarah ini tidak begitu jelas semasa sebelum dia berkuasa, silalah amati tingkah lakunya setelah dan semasa dia diberikan sejadahnya itu.  Kalau kita tidak salah ingat, satu ketika dulu seorang Mahathir pernah bermadah bahawa dalam batang tubuh parti bernafaskan Islam belum kelihatan sebarang perebutan kuasa, keadaan seperti itu bukanlah tidak bersebab.  Parti Islam itu belum lagi diberikan sebarang sejadah kuasa.  Lihatlah apakah itu perangainya (tidak berebut-rebut sejadah itu ) akan tetap kekal setelah dan apabila ia diberikan sejadahnya?  Walaupun kata-kata seorang Mahathir itu lebih banyak putar dan belitnya, loyar dan buruk serta sakat perli politiknya, tapi statement seperti di atas,  memang ada relevannya.        

Wanita dan sejadah kuasa

Wanita itu dari jenis gender yang telah melahirkan ‘kita-kita semua’  ke bumi ini dan tanpa wanita,  kita semua tak ada di sini.  Dan ganti nama ‘ibu’ tak akan wujud dalam kamus manusia jika di alam ini tidak ada spesies wanita. Bayangkan sebuah bumi yang tak ada adik, menantu, anak, guru, doktor, bidan dll yang dari spesies perempuan.  Alangkah muramnya alam bumi ini tanpa wanita.      

Kira-kira sebulan sekali wanita yang sihat ‘jatuh uzur’ dan dia diberikan kebenaran untuk cuti beribadah.  Sementara itu, katanya terdapat dalam pemikiran sesetengah spesies lelaki termasuk yang tinggi maqam agamanya yang katanya yakin dan percaya bahawa wanita itu secara semula jadi@alamiah sememangnya lemah daya inteleknya.  Khabarnya wanita itu dikatakan lemah oleh kerana gendernya dan oleh hal yang demikian itu tidaklah layak ia menjadi pemimpin tertinggi? Apakah ini juga bermakna bahawa orang-orang ini yakin dan percaya bahawa isteri, isteri-isteri, anak-anak atau cucu cicit mereka yang semuanya perempuan itu, secara semula jadi adalah spesies yang lemah?  Apakah tepat pandangan bahawa sesungguhnya kaum Hawa itu secara relatif jauh lebih rendah kebolehannya dan daya inteleknya kerana dia bukanlah dari spesies lelaki?

Apakah kuasa dan wanita itu tidak ada kaitannya sama sekali dengan segala macam nikmat dan kesedapan nikmat bersujud di atas sejadah kuasa itu?  Atau apakah tidak mungkin (oleh kerana saking sedapnya bersujud di sejadah kuasa itu), maka hanya lelaki saja yang berhak diberikan kuasa tertinggi, misalnya CEO sebuah negeri yang kaya?  Agaknya itukah sebab musababnya kenapa kuasa yang sedia ada dan segala limpahan manfaatnya yang mengalir dan diraup selama ini membuat seseorang wanita itu tidak layak?

Alahai sejadah dan segala bentuk sujud yang dipamerkan.  Apakah ia tidak berupaya mengelirukan ‘kita-kita’ yang tebal tembok taqlid butanya?