When political adjustments lead to moral compromises, it is a big price to pay, says K Haridas.
Consider any of the great religious books belonging to the mainstream religions – eg Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism – and you will notice a wide spectrum of followers, moderate and extreme, who use their holy texts to justify their claims or positions.
With Islam, there are many simple humble followers whose lives are guided by the Qur’an. At the same time, there are also those who belong to extreme groups that champion narrow versions based on caliphate, jihad, race or identity.
The same can be said of the Bible. There are over 2,000 Christian sects emphasising particular aspects of Christ’s teachings. Likewise, Christian Zionists have their own self-righteous views and approach. Then there are the Catholics and the Protestants, whose proselytising initiatives have often spread the word of God.
Similarly, the Bhagavad Gita may be interpreted in the context of a conflict situation in a battle setting, and there are those who use this to justify violence. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its fascist group, the RSS, promote hindutva, which represents a hegemony of Hindu beliefs and practices with its own narrow interpretations. While Hinduism leads people to self-realisation, hindutva leads people into a political movement.
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Consider the extreme Buddhist expressions in Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka, where certain Buddhist priests take extreme positions against Hindu Tamils and Rohingya Muslims. Even the Sikhs have had their challenges. In every instance, they take a moral high ground and use scriptures to justify their positions.
In India the BJP, through Article 370, has done great injury to the cause of Kashmir and people living there and, through the Citizenship Act, alienated Muslims in India. This is in a country that has opened its doors to people of all backgrounds in keeping with its secular constitution.
Who we are thus becomes significant. If we carry in our hearts hatred and jealousy for the other, then we will become susceptible to such interpretations that manipulate and justify such motivations. Or if we claim that we have the whole truth, then we see the other in a different light.
Such inclinations diminish our sense of character, and powerful emotive forces blind us to the reality that we are misjudging the situation.
Action is knowledge lived out, and by our actions, we will be judged. Our actions are a measure of our true growth and an exhibition of our motives. Honesty is not just a value; it is honesty lived out that matters.
Through the way the “katak” politicians (party defectors) have behaved, they have conveyed a message about themselves.
It is essentially a question of what we stand for and live by. If this is unclear, then like the lalang (wild grass), we just move as the wind blows and become victims of our own bad motives and misjudged sense of faith. Self-interest then becomes the overriding motive.
What this finally says is that many use scriptures to justify immoral actions. The recent installation of a “backdoor government” in Malaysia is a case in point. On what moral basis can such a motley group of people justify this apart from their emphasis on race. Likewise, on what basis in the context of universal and Islamic values can such behavior ever be justified?
Political traitors are those one who back away from the promises they made and sacrifice the interest of the people or party they represent by changing sides. It is easy to claim that because of freedom of association, they can become a katak legally. What is legally right is not necessarily morally acceptable: they can never be a katak, morally.
In violating the promises they made to those who voted for them, these kataks have compromised on the trust factor. People voted for them not because of who they are, but for what they stood for and represented. Now that this is no more the case, it is only right they resign as MPs and seek re-election in their respective constituences. This would be the morally correct thing to do.
They cannot wish this away. There is no point speaking about issues of right and wrong, when through their conduct and behaviour, they have sold their soul to power and enticements. Whatever Muhyiddin Yassin may claim, there is enough in the social media that hurts his own integrity and moral standing. They can always utter religious verses, but sincere Muslims who live by a code can see through the betrayal.
The simple litmus test would be to ask members of the present government how they would feel if this was done to them. This is not rocket science: we display our character through the choices we make. As the Prophet (PBUH) says, “The greatest jihad (struggle/striving) is to battle your own soul, to fight the evil (ego) within yourself.” However, if they have no time for silence and reflection, they will never grow in understanding.
Someone should enlighten this Perikatan Nasional team about this verse in the Qur’an (4:135): “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well acquainted with all that you do.”
When political adjustments lead to moral compromises, it is a big price to pay: these men and women will forever be remembered for how they acted in their self-interest. They will join all the other immoral kataks who have faded into oblivion.