Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was responsible for the presence of non-extreme views of Islam in Malaysia, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli said in rejecting claims his boss is to blame for the creeping of religious fundamentalism here.
Rafizi was disputing recent claims by activist Siti Kasim that Anwar, who was a Muslim Youth Movement (ABIM) leader in his earlier days, had set the country down the road of religious conservatism and Islamisation when he was in the federal government.
“I disagree with her. That’s her view as a citizen and I respect that view but I disagree with that view because especially now it is obvious, it is the lack of that kind of Islamic leadership that gives room to the more confrontational or less inclusive version of Islam in society
“Actually it’s the lack of Anwar’s kind of engagement and Islamic leadership that brings us here,” the PKR secretary-general told Malay Mail Online when contacted this week.
Rafizi asserted that Anwar is an Islamic moderate who stayed tolerant even as the successful Iranian revolution in 1979 encouraged more hardline views by Muslims globally against the US and non-Muslims.
“Against that background, Anwar provided a different brand of Islamic leadership, one that is not confrontational and hostile to differences in opinion. So for anyone to say Anwar is responsible for what it is today [sic] is clearly ignorant of facts and background during those years.
“Anwar encourages and exemplifies that kind of engagement that a Muslim leader should have with non-Muslims. Anwar has a lot more tolerance in difference of opinions with non-Muslims,” he said.
According to Rafizi, Anwar’s entry into Umno decades ago was “pivotal” and has helped shape Malaysian politics and society since, claiming that none in Umno has had the same kind of engagement with non-Muslims.
He contrasted Anwar’s approach to Islam in the past to PAS’ current style of forcing out nationalists and introducing an ulama leadership modelled after Iran.
Rafizi also highlighted that current PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had in the early 1980s allegedly viewed the country’s Constitution and laws as British-inherited laws to be rejected in favour of an Islamic-compliant administration.
Anwar, on the other hand, had advocated Islam from a perspective of justice and focused on daily issues such as poverty and corruption, he said.
The credit for keeping moderate Islam a part of government policy during Anwar’s time in the government “largely goes to” him, Rafizi insisted.
But the lack of a Malaysian leader with the Islamic credentials to challenge the intolerant has led to the apparent dominance now of self-proclaimed defenders of Islam who tend to be confrontational to both non-Muslims and Muslims that do not subscribe to their brand of Islam, he said.
In a recent interview with Malay Mail Online, Siti blamed Anwar for the alleged Islamisation of Malaysia, also claiming that the former Muslim Youth leader had brought in the “Wahhabism kind of Islam” that allegedly mixes Arab culture with Islam.
Wahhabism is an orthodox and fundamental Islamic “reform movement” within Islam’s Sunni school of thought seeking to restore what it sees as “pure” Islamic worship, and named after 18th century preacher and scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
Anwar, who was in Umno for 16 years, had been deputy prime minister under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rule from 1993 until his sacking in 1998.
Anwar who helped co-found PKR remains its de facto leader even as he serves a five-year prison term that started in March 7, 2014 for the sodomy of a former aide.
@The Malay Mail Online