Source: The Choice
It now looks like PAS is tying itself into knots trying to project a united face in the controversy over the word “Allah”.
In one corner, we have PAS Dewan Ulama chief Datuk Harun Taib who demands that the word “Allah” is exclusively for Muslims; while in the opposite corner, stands party deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who reportedly said that non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” to refer to their God.
The Islamist party is clearly facing a crisis of its own, with several senior members reportedly upset that the party is not strongly addressing issues involving Islam.
PAS’ rank-and-file claim that the party leadership is more interested in pacifying its secular partners in Pakatan Rakyat, DAP and PKR, rather than standing up for its core Islamic values.
The latest aggravation is the statements from some PAS leaders in favour of non-Muslims using the word “Allah”.
Mat Sabu recently said: “The PAS president (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) had issued a statement in 2010 to not forbid any religious adherent, who are not Muslims, to use the word ‘Allah’. PAS maintains that stand.”
In January 2010, Hadi had said: “In conclusion, we cannot forbid them from using the word ‘Allah’ among themselves, in their worship and practice, even though the meaning deviates from the original according to our language.”
But these comments have been dismissed by conservatives in PAS, including Harun, who criticised “certain leaders who think they were above ulama leaders in the party”.
He reiterated that followers of other religions, like Christianity, did not have any right to use the word “Allah” on any occasion, including using it in the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible.
“In Christianity, they refer to God as Jesus and not Allah. As far as I am concerned, the word ‘Allah’ is only for Muslims because in Christianity, they have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” he stressed.
These contradictory comments have revealed a growing undercurrent of hostility between the ulama and non-ulama sections of the Islamist party.
Former Penang Pas Youth chief Mohd Hafiz Mohd Nordin said PAS’ Syura Council must take a firm stand on the matter, instead of allowing individual party leaders to issue their own statements.
He said that the council had not issued any official statement or decision since 2010, yet this was needed now more than ever as the latest controversy involved the question of faith and religion.
“On behalf of the party grassroots in Penang and Malaysia, we are waiting for a firm decision by the Syura Council, which has the most credibility to determine such a crucial matter.
“The longer it takes for the council to decide, the more confused members will become, especially when non-ulama leaders, like Mat Sabu, make a statement,” he said.
Perhaps the real debate shouldn’t be between PAS and DAP in this latest public spat to hit Pakatan; it should really be taking place within PAS itself.
At stake is whether or not the Islamist party is ready to live with the reality of our multicultural society and coexist with other religions and communities, or whether PAS is only interested in taking a monochrome, hardline approach that pushes an Islamist agenda and alienates other sections of the population.
This conflict within PAS could well decide the future of Malaysia itself.