‘Sadly, many of those stirring up hatred are men of God’

DATUK Dr Hasan Ali may be a veteran politician, but he is one of those veterans who has not been able to play the survival game most politicians are good at — to keep your cool and lie low when the heat is on you.

Hasan is no ordinary PAS member. He has been a party loyalist for quite a while. A well-known motivational speaker, he was considered a good catch when he joined PAS around 15 years ago. He has served many terms as an elected representative and was considered a very senior PAS leader.

He was also given every opportunity by his party to climb the political ladder. And when Pakatan Rakyat formed the Selangor government after the 2008 general election, PAS proposed him as an executive councillor. In line with his credentials, Hasan was put in charge of Islamic affairs in the state.

That alone could be a fatal mistake, both for PAS and for Hasan.

Religion, Islam to be precise, is what makes PAS united and strong. Islam is its strength. In short, PAS is Islam and vice-versa.

Although I am a Christian, I have said many times, both in private and in writing that the religious flavour in PAS is not necessarily a bad thing. As long as they are no extremists in the party using religion to further their personal ambitions, PAS is on the right track.

I have also declared in this column in the past that if I were a Muslim and interested in a political career, PAS would be my first choice – way ahead of the other Malay/Muslim-based parties in the country.

Why? Contrary to what detractors of PAS have accused the party of, I believe that its leaders are moderate people. It’s true that certain party elders are still clinging onto certain Islamic fundamentals like hudud law but there is now a steady decline among younger party leaders harping on such issues.

I am fortunate to know some PAS leaders personally and I came to hear first-hand of PAS’ goals and ambitions and its intention to work towards a more transparent and tolerant society based on Islamic credentials.

While the party’s ulamak council may strike fear among non-Muslims for some of their hard-line stances in the past, I am somewhat comforted that there already exists in the party a large base of moderate, younger, educated Muslim leaders who are dictating the direction of the party.

Back to Hasan Ali, I have to say that I do not feel sorry for him following his sacking from the party. Though I have no intention to add salt to his wounds, I still have to add that Hasan deserved to get the boot. Being a party renegade, he certainly deserved the sacking.

Remember what I said about certain politicians whose pea-sized brains start to swell once they are given a little power? Hasan seems to fit in that category.

Having the authority to oversee Islamic affairs in Selangor, Hasan started to overstep his boundaries by embarking on controversial plans of action – purportedly in the name of Islam.

Soon after, he proposed to introduce a ban on the sale of liquor in areas with a large Muslim population in Selangor. That did not go down well with many, including his Muslim colleagues in the state government.

Hasan lost and he was devastated. But he was determined to use his religious faith as a weapon either to prove, or as an excuse, that he was doing the right thing. So he became the self-styled defender of Islam, Malay royalty and the Malay race. Unfortunately, the people of Selangor and his party leaders were not impressed.

After losing the battle over his proposed ban on the sale of alcohol, Hasan started stirring up apostasy and proselytising issues.

Soon, we were served with the Jais raid on the Damanasara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya and the even odder claims of solar-powered electronic Bibles that ‘spoke’ being used to evangelise Muslims.

Although Hasan claimed that thousands were being converted to Christianity, no real evidence has emerged to this day.

Political analyst Moaz Nair, writing in a news portal, had this to say on Hasan’s ridiculous claim.

“Is Hasan on a jihad mode? His mention of solar-powered Bibles used by Christians to convert the Malays is a too far-fetched analysis of the whole situation. The Christians do not have to use this modus operandi to convince the Muslims if their intention is to convert others.

“The Internet is illimitable with information on Christianity and other religions and currently more than 16 million Malaysians have access to the Internet. With all the information and religious promises displayed on the Internet, it is more than needed to start converting the masses. Despite all this, the society has not heard of Malays rushing to become Christians in droves.”

“‘Drumming anti-Christian rhetoric is not making Hassan popular among Muslims, either,’ said a Muslim student of a local university.

“Hassan was alleged to have accused the Christians disguised as imam preaching to the faithful in the mosques. This must be the most absurd statement made by a religious man who is supposed to be highly educated. Thus far, no Christian has been caught for disguising as imams rambling in mosques to woo the Muslims. No Muslim has thus far mentioned anything on this except for Hassan.

“Hassan warned, as reported, that an elite highly covert taskforce, which may be operating in and around Petaling Jaya and Kelana Jaya, has been set up by Christians with the aim of proselytising Selangor Malays. It seems the Christians found that Buddhists, Taoists and Confucians are easy to convert, but they found Muslims, specifically Malays, difficult to convert. So they formed the special unit to convert the Selangor Malays to Christianity.

“This is another ridiculous claim by Hasan without presenting any empirical evidence,” Moaz added.

It is not a surprise that the PAS leadership’s decision to sack Hasan has been welcomed by many in the party, PAS’ allies in Pakatan Rakyat and the public at large.

Hasan’s political maturity was also found wanting. His public statement of not supporting the rally on Jan 9 was against the decision of the party. Surely, Hasan should know that he is not bigger than PAS.

From his public rhetoric about Islam and its crusade, Hasan’s knowledge on the religion he professes was nowhere near that of PAS president Hadi Awang or Tok Guru Nik Aziz, two PAS leaders revered by many. Hasan should be aware that few would take note of his views on Islam if they differ from those of Hadi or Tok Guru.

So how would I surmise the actions of Hasan Ali since he started on his so-called Islamic crusade in Selangor in 2008?

Let me quote from The Economist. The UK publication on Dec 31, 2011 observed: “Once religion is involved, any conflict becomes harder to solve.” It added “from Delhi to Jerusalem, many of those stirring up hatred are men of God”.

There is nothing further from the truth.

So if there is a preacher who steps up to the podium, exhorting to us that it is a holy act to kill sinners, let us in turn tell him: “If there is a god who asks us to murder our fellow human being, we do not need such a god because surely, we know that we are better than him.”

Comments can reach the writer at paulsir99@hotmail.com

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