It is a statement that is welcome particularly by the Muslim community as a whole, at a time when political parties are fiercely competing in the state elections.
In the race to win the hearts and minds of the electorate, Malay-based parties have made attempts to look more Islamic than their competition in a way that at times can be considered as divisive, as well as not in keeping with Islamic teachings.
It is in this context that Pas spiritual leader Hashim Jasin found it necessary to explain that his party does not regard Umno as an enemy nor a party of infidels or non-believers.
His statement emerged in the wake of a video clip that has made its rounds on social media, in which an elderly woman was heard telling a woman electoral campaigner, purportedly canvassing for Barisan Nasional in Kelantan, that she was not welcome because Umno, which she represented, was “kafir” (an infidel).
Although some social media users claimed the elderly woman was senile and, thus, could no longer think properly and should be absolved of blame, her accusation rankled many in the opposing parties.
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Hashim’s statement should also put to rest the insistence among some that whoever voted for Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan would go to hell.
For example, in the last general election, PKR lodged a police report, complaining that a Pas youth leader claimed that voters who chose BN and PH would enter hell. That was an emotive pronouncement that was bound to raise hell. The Pas politician later apologised and retracted the statement on a Facebook posting.
Such judgemental remarks seem to suggest a transgression of the realm of the sacred, which should be avoided. Can mere mortals assume the divine role of according punishment or reward to fellow human beings?
Besides, Pas cannot be equated with Islam so that ditching or not supporting the party does not mean one is being unIslamic, which may be considered sinful.
That is why this controversy has even prompted the Religious Affairs Minister, Mohd Na’im Mokhtar, to intervene, saying that such a gesture was dangerous, as well as against Islamic principles.
Indeed, such a brand of politics has driven a wedge among Muslims, causing hostility, discord and unhappiness within the Muslim community in the country.
Political rivalry should not verge on fostering extreme forms of discord, to the extent that a Muslim refuses to even shake hands with a fellow Muslim because of different party affiliations.
Worse, there are those who would sever kinship with fellow Muslims due to different political ideologies.
Such divisive politics has to be addressed if ummah solidarity is of utmost priority.
Of course, fostering unity among Muslims should not be conducted by demonising those outside of the community. You should not spook the Malays in order to paint yourself as the ultimate saviour.
In other words, there should not be an attempt to put fear in the Malay-Muslim community that, for example, the non-Malays pose an existential threat to the Muslims. This is counterproductive and dangerous.
For Malaysia to move forward, it is crucial that everyone from various backgrounds has a sense of belonging to the land and that they feel united, mutually respected and appreciated. Nation-building can only be effectively carried out by a united nation.
As Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak rightly pointed out recently, “after almost 66 years of gaining independence, it is crucial for citizens not to be swayed by hostile voices that can cause disputes, conflicts and divisions.”
The act of causing tension, suspicion, hatred and conflicts within and between communities may border on being ungodly. – The Malaysian Insight