The scholar turned law maker
To him ― as a man-in-the-street, the prevailing signs are indeed worrying. People read about it, you hear people talking; most important of all ― he himself is convinced ― the signs are there all around us.
Let us look at the history, his success story. Upon his return from the remote-yet-but-much-talked-about madrasah (religious school), his appearance changes completely. Gone are the shabby and dishevelled outfits which used to be his trade mark in the village. After all he is now a scholar from a renowned religious institution famous for its religious credentials.
To most of the villagers the young man’s metamorphosis was complete; almost. The disgruntled were probably the jealous ones, those envious of his complete transformation from a village rowdy, @kacang hantu or perhaps those who were officially registered as the government religious scholars; the undoubted authority on religious affairs of the village. They now have ―in their midst ― a new rival in their very own religious court yard, a territory once used to be exclusively theirs.
2.0 Actually there is nothing much to complain, I mean this sudden ‘resurgence’ of this young Islamic star into the village after he was long gone. To many of the villagers then, the boy was gone for good. Now that he has returned, you cannot blame the young ladies of village for having sleepless nights since his return. Apart from its jagged yet faint images of the one Amir Khan of Bollywood, he is undoubtedly an attractive guy worth contemplating as a future soul mate.
That is not our real point of interest; we are more interested in his rise to position of power and what he does with it. His mercuric rise to stardom, first as an expert Quran recital guru with the stinging vocal of a popular pop star, then as the lead congregational prayer leader, the imam of the village surau and finally as the well-known community leader, by any standard is undoubtedly quite an achievement. The young man has indeed successfully carved himself out as the well-respected public figure of the village.
3.0 His years as the village imam, his learning curve virtually as a spiritual practitioner-cum-adviser for the community had more or less been similar to the religious leaders of the past. And like many other padi planting areas of the country, he enjoys the perks of receiving the zakat, tithe as enshrined in the religion just like most religious leaders of the past. And if the situation had permitted, many parents would have unreservedly scrambled to have him as the future son-in-law. Such is the desire, crave and norm as part of the religious outfit.
4.0 Like many of his stature, standing and credentials, the September 1998 tragedy was quite a turning point. People of his background were more or less unwillingly dragged into chaotic political turmoil. That too was his beginning of his political stardom. As a religious scholar he has his followers; present, future and ready-made. It was just for him call the shot and start ball rolling.
5.0 For many, the last General Election of the country was seen as the almost-impossible-dream coming true. For the masses that have long been craving for change, that change was supposed to be inevitable. They were just waiting for the moment to celebrate the birth of a new beginning. For politicians, including religious clerics-turned-politicians like him, that juicy taste of power was really in the air. It was just a matter of grabbing it.
6.0 That he is now a law maker is where we begin. He has a new learning curve to study, learn, relearn and relearn and act. To act fast, he must. Yes he has no other choice but to learn, relearn and relearn and act fast ― for time is not on his side ― and he knows very clearly that he is now outside the domains of his village surau.
7.0 There will be other elections in future. And people of his category are seen as samples for future law makers. That is why being an absolute religious scholar is not sufficient any more. He needs new tools and needs them very badly.