Viewpoints of Prominent PKS Parliamentarians on the Future Development of PKS in Indonesia

May 19, 2012 by Dr. Farish A. Noor

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Q. The Tablighi Jama’at would maintain, however, that the Prophet was never a politician or political leader as you in the PKS are and wish to be now. They insist that the Prophet was primarily that: A prophet who delivered divine revealed knowledge as a model for living.

FH: But how can they say the Prophet was never a political leader when we all know that the Prophet was forced to fight wars as well? Wars are political, and that means that the Prophet was also engaged in political contestation and political struggle. Wars are part of politics, so how could there have been wars if there was no politics at the time of the Prophet?

I understand that groups like the Tabligh will always exist and that there will always be some Muslims who will reject the path of politics for they regard politics as a whole as contaminated and contaminating. But these are fringe groups, and in the long run they will become marginal groups because they have no power. That’s why in the world today the Muslims who are in positions of power are those like us, of the Ikhwan.


Q. And your attitude towards the Tablighi Jama’at? That is, the PKS’s attitude towards them

FH: We do not see the Tabligh as a problem, frankly. If they wish to conduct their missionary work the way they do, then that’s fine by us, as they do not represent a threat to us. In fact we are quite happy with the Tabligh because in their own way their missionary work helps us, since they are sensitising people to become better Muslims, so how can that hinder our work as an Islamist party?

So I say, live and let live: We (PKS) have our political work to do, and they (Tabligh) have their dakwah work to do. In the end, they are still orthodox Muslims and there is nothing wrong with their interpretation of Islam, so we do not see them as a threat or as deviants, etc.


Q. And the PKS has never tried to counter the influence of the Tabligh among the Muslims of Indonesia?

FH: Never, for we cannot and will not fight their brand of dakwah with counter-dakwah of our own. That would be counter-productive. Our objective, unlike the Tabligh’s is to win the state, or what you call state capture. The state is hegemonic, and that is why if we win the state the state will be able to regulate the lives of all.

The Tabligh are an extra-state movement that bypasses the state and hopes to escape the state. I don’t think this is possible in the long run, for the state, as a tool, is hegemonic and it has to ability and power to regulate the lives of all of us through laws and political authority. That is why in the end we aim to win the state, for once that happens then through the state we can deal with such groups – through more effective means like education, laws, rules and regulations. The state in the end may render groups like the Tabligh ineffective.

So no, the Tabligh is not a problem for us in the PKS. Modernity and the state will render them redundant in the end, not us.