PAS on the path to power?

May 19, 2012 by Dr. Farish A. Noor

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Q. And you will maintain this commitment to democracy under whatever circumstances?

Dr. Dzul: ‘Yes, under whatever circumstances. Even when PAS lost elections and lost power, we have always remained within the constitution. We have never done anything extra-constitutional, never engaged in violence.

We remain committed to the modalities of democratic elections and even prior to the last elections (on 8 March 2008) I and several PAS leaders went to Europe to consult with our Islamist brothers and teachers, including (Rashid) Ghannouchi where we once again reiterated our commitment to the democratic system. When we took part in the 12th General elections of 2008, it was with consultation with our Islamist colleagues abroad as well, and that consensus remains.

As Ghannouchi, Qaradawy, et al have noted, politics (siasah) is in the realm of faraghat (spaces), and as such there are no doctrinal or theological impediments or restrictions for us to enter that space. And so yes, we remain committed to the modalities of democratic elections.


Q. Critics of PAS often raise the concern over ‘Islamic extremism’ or ‘conservatism’ but I think this is a non-issue, frankly; because it is not political Islam that oppresses citizens, but rather the state. The state is the tool of power and governance, but also policing and control; and it is the state that will impact on the lives of citizens and shape the lives of citizens. PAS, it has to be said, did not invent laws like the Emergency Ordinance, the Sedition Act or the Internal Security Act, but has criticised the BN government for its use of these laws and the state apparatus as a tool of political control. But what will PAS do if it comes to power, and what will PAS do to these laws (ISA, EO, etc) in particular?

Dr. Dzul: ‘Our stand on this is based on both theological and political arguments. Ibn Khaldun, the philosopher and social scientist, had warned against the accumulation of power in a small group of elites, or even an individual, and in the history of Islamic political though there has been a sustained criticism of the maximalisation of power. So we are wary of maximal state power, because as we all know and can see, it can be very dangerous and it can be abused too. Theologically the position we also take is that the maximalisation of state power means that the state supersedes God, and that is also dangerous; when the state has total power over citizens.

Islamic governance has to be based on trust – amanah – and this trust is one that places power in the hands of the state but only so that the state can empower people and make them complete human beings. The state has to therefore encourage the growth of people, of society, and that is what such repressive laws stand in the way of social development.

What we want to see is a minimalist state that frees society, frees the market, allows market forces to contribute back to society in order for there to be space for private capital, for the growth of the individual, for the freeing of the universities, where society can develop. Now let me state here that this is not an endorsement for a totally free market with no regulatory controls, but what I am talking about here is a sort of merchantalism where there is a bigger space for society to develop economically without too much state interference.’