PETALING JAYA: Amanah communications chief Khalid Samad has rejected the idea of a wholesale exclusion of Islamic discourse from the realm of politics.
However, he told FMT he was in agreement with a call for the rejection of politicians who make use of Islam as a means of winning votes.
He was referring to a recent statement by Yahya Staquf, the secretary-general of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation. Yahya was quoted by Channel News Asia as saying that the exploitation of religion for votes posed a danger to social cohesion in multicultural countries.
Khalid said Yahya’s statement should not be taken as meaning that there could not be any place for Islam in politics.
“To tell Muslims to forget about Islam is not going to work because nowadays people are more conscious about the religion,” he said.
“To Muslim politicians, pursuing political objectives that are based on Islamic principles is important because Islam teaches us to promote good governance and justice.
“However, this does not mean that any particular party is the only one fighting for Islam or carrying Islamic principles.”
He said he was against any political party that would tell Muslim voters to support its particular version of Islam while denouncing other parties as unIslamic.
“That is dangerous and will create conflict,” he added.
Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa accused PAS of using Islam as a tool for getting votes.
“It has been exploiting verses of the Quran, taking them out of context to serve its political interest, such as with the private member’s bill to enhance shariah punishments,” he said.
“We should not use Islam as a tool and ride on it to favour our own political interests.”
He claimed that Amanah, which is a PAS splinter, was different.
He said his party moved within the ambit of democracy while extolling Islamic values “rather than simply riding on Islam without putting it into context.”
He told FMT he believed that democracy was currently the best system of government and that it fitted well with the Islamic political objective of creating a more open society.
He said the democratic recognition of free speech was embedded in the Islamic principle of making decisions through consultations.
“When you talk about Islamic issues, especially about legal matters, you have to refer back to the democratic process,” he said. “You cannot just claim something you are proposing is Islamic and expect to have no debate about it.
“The question should be how do you bring Islam into the context of our country?”