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A new paradigm of Muslim politics (Part 1)

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 05:03 PM PDT

An internal debate took place among the Islamists. Thus, there was a separation between the "traditionalists" centered on Erbakan and the "renewalists" led by Tayyip Erdogan. The renewalists argued that the party needed a new approach on handling fundamental issues like democracy, human rights and international relations.

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, The Malaysian Insider

Whether we realise or not, there has been a significant shift in the political approach of many Islamist movements especially in the dynamics of their normative framework throughout the world. It probably started with the transformation of Islamist parties in Turkey, namely Refah (the Welfare Party) and the Fazilet (the Virtue Party) to Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, hereinafter referred as AKP) that has a more tolerant normative framework and eventually relinquished their Islamism.

If we were to trace this transformation, it started long ago even before the reformist movement of Jamaluddin al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, who are widely known as first Islamists. Perhaps the movement in Turkey was the first to respond to Western hegemony by formulating Islamic answers derived from Islamic sources. This movement is known as the Young Ottomans and could be seen as predecessors of Jamaluddin al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh.

A brief history

As history has it, the Young Ottomans are among the first generation students that were sent to study in Europe with a hope that upon their return, they would help reforming the state. From their interaction with the West, these students developed a respect for Western political institutions and affirmed that the state would never be modernised unless by adopting a democratic government, not a caliphate. 

They envisaged synthesising modern values with the traditional local values. They demanded a constitutional government, a parliamentarian regime and a political system based on human rights. They also offered a constitutional project with an Islamic foundation.

The Young Ottomans had a chance to put their idea into practice in 1876 when there was a strong movement for a constitutional government. It was the first constitution of an Islamic State in history and was modeled on the Belgian and Prussian constitution. For the first time in Islamic history, all subjects were declared to be Ottomans regardless of their religion. All subjects were equal and enjoy individual liberty. 

Unfortunately this experiment was shot-lived. Sultan Abdulhamid II, the last sultan of the Ottoman caliphate dissolved the parliament in 1878. The Young Ottomans were dispersed however the influence of their proto-liberalism and constitutionalism continued and the Sultan was forced to restore the constitution in 1908.

In 1909 the constitution was amended to increase the power of the legislature and restrict that of the sultan. This was the time when the Young Turks who were basically the secularists and nationalists' successors of the Young Ottomans rose to power. As a result of their ascension, the constitutional system did not last long. The Young Turks transformed this system into a dictatorship of the dominant party, Ittihad ve Terakki (Union and Progress) in a few years' time. The Young Turks republican successors – the Kemalists – did not allow pluralism and democracy to operate until 1950. During these four decades a staunchly secularist elite ruled Turkey. The Young Ottomans' identity and discourse were delegitimise and marginalised. The state monopolised the role of Islam in public sphere leaving no room for private interpretations of Islam.

This signifies the beginning of a dark history in the Islamist politics and has been the source of antagonism towards any mention of the term "secular" and any new re-interpretation of what is known as a post-Islamism discourse currently.

Politics of Turkey in modern time

Fast-forward to the modern time, the first prominent Islamist Party was Milli Nizam Partisi (National Order Party) 1970-1971 and the Milli Selamet Partisi (National Salvation Party) 1972-1981. The leader of these parties was none other than the prolific Prof Necmettin Erbakan. Erbakan envisaged a strong Turkey that would be a leader of the Muslim world but his vision was short lived. The military coup closed down all political parties. Erbakan then founded a new party with a new name, Refah Partisi (the Welfare Party).



Dilemma for PAS

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 04:39 PM PDT

As the party prepares for its 59th annual 'muktamar', calls for the leadership to review current partnership with Pakatan Rakyat is gaining traction.

Hawkeye, FMT

PAS will once again revisit the issue of whether to remain within the Pakatan Rakyat set-up during its 59th annual 'muktamar' (gathering) to be held in Selangor, next month.

The call for the Islamist party to review ties with socialist-driven DAP or reformist-minded PKR, has surfaced again, just when party veterans and delegates will sit down to elect its next round of leaders.

This is the third time since 2008 that there has been a call from within the party ranks to review their position in PKR, a loose alternative opposition front to the ruling federal coalition Barisan Nasional.

In terms of strength, Pakatan only has three entities, but BN draws its resources from 13 parties from the peninsular as well as Sabah and Sarawak, not to mention the largest political party, Umno.

This time, the call seems to be getting louder, coming from PAS' ulama ranks – its Terengganu-based Ulama Council chairman Harun Taib, a close confidant of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

Over the weekend, Islamist activist Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Noordin echoed a similar call. Partly to blame for this current situation is the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

According to PKR secretary-general, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, the ROS has up till now yet to validate Pakatan's application to be registered as a political party.

Hafiz is a former Penang PAS Youth head and his constant criticisms of the party has resulted in the leadership censuring him amid calls for his expulsion.

Party losing support among Muslims

However, when asked about it, Hafiz brushed it off, saying that the reality in the villages is that PAS is fast losing support among the Muslim electorate.

"Perhaps, the affluent communities and disgrunted ex-BN supporters may stay on with PAS, but their numbers pale in comparision, particularly in the rural areas where PAS is the most strongest," he said.

"Now, Umno is also seen as strong in the rural areas so who does PAS reach out to? The outcome of the last GE is strong indicator, so PAS should leave Pakatan and stand on its own strength," added Hafiz.




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