“Umno and PAS know exactly who we are. So our steps are prudent and we will continue to support the aspirations of the people, be the voice and ears of the people, and uphold the hope of the people.

– Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa

I wonder if alleged money launderer, religious provocateur and the darling of mainstream Malay/Muslim politicians, Dr Zakir Naik will attend the Umno/PAS signing of their charter this Friday.

After all, Zakir is the spiritual adoptive parent of this union. Sure, he may be late to the party – or maybe not – but his polemics closely echoes that coming out of this union.

Zakir’s insistence that “Muslim” unity trumps everything is broadcast plain and clear from his nights of “”Malam Islam bersatu bersama Dr Zakir Naik,” or his speeches about the topic – Unity of Muslim Ummah.

Non-Muslims think of such events in simplistic terms. They see it as a union between kleptocrats and extremists. While the political personalities involved may fit those descriptions, what is really happening is a coalescing of Islamic agendas into a potent political force.

This has been attempted before, but the political terrain is different now. It would be unwise to dismiss such a union, especially when there is no alternative when it comes to the state-sponsored religion in this country.

One of the reasons why I keep harping on the need for a secular alternative, especially when it comes to young people, is because they are the vote base that the progressive forces in this country should be cultivating. I was always supportive of lowering the voting age, and think this is decisive, in keeping with the New Malaysia agenda that Harapan seems to have forgotten.

Ridhuan Tee Abdulah (above), in a piece published on the Isma website, had his concerns. He was concerned that young Malay/Muslims were not as interested in engaging in the political process as their young Chinese counterparts. He blamed this on numerous factors, including the differing standards in “Chinese” and “Malay” dominated schools.

Parts of his article was insightful, but ultimately, it was in the service of Muslim unity, disguised as some sort of guide to making young Malay/Muslims politically active.

Ridhuan’s opinion is important because it demonstrates that the Islamists and the far-right forces in this country are cognisant of the fact that the ballot box, especially in Peninsular Malaysia dominated by a Malay/Muslim majority with a specific religious and racial agenda, will determine the course of this country for decades to come.

Indeed, in his latest piece (published on the Isma website), Ridhuan reminds us that the Umno/PAS union is not merely to defeat Harapan in the next election, but rather is the basis for Malay/Muslim rule for decades to come. The process of indoctrinating young people, therefore, becomes imperative.

This is why someone like Zakir Naik is an important mouthpiece for mainstream Malay political parties. Non-Muslims mock Umno/PAS as kleptocrats who looted this country. What they fail to understand is that the kind of Islam propagated by the likes of Zakir Naik, and now Umno/PAS, means that kleptocrats are better leaders than honest politicians, but more importantly, neither Islam nor the country needs reform.

To Zakir (above) and the legions who follow him, including Harapan politicians, Islam is already perfect. This means that it is Muslims who are not living up to perfection.

While politicians use religion as some sort of ideological framework, the reality is that for people who support Umno/PAS, this is not about policy per se, but rather that Muslim unity is undermined by the non-Malays in this country and by those “Malay” elements who either are in thrall to non-Muslims or believe in “liberal” ideas.

Isma’s Aminuddin Yahay begs Dr Mahathir to exert control over the forces that undermine Malay/Muslim unity in this country. The Isma president does not talk about the social-economic problems facing the Malay/Muslim community, but frames the discourse as a clash of civilizations. Us against them.

This is why the Umno/PAS union is effective. Their narrative, Zakir’s narrative, is easy to buy into. You do not have to think about the reasons why there is economic disparity among the various communities, but rather that religion is the panacea for everything.

When an academician suggests that Umno/PAS ditch the more inclusive narrative, why do you think that is? Because what someone like Zakir demonstrates is that Muslim unity is an easier sell than mutual cooperation.

When Dr M invited all Muslim parties to join Bersatu, what did PAS say? “When it comes to the concept of unity, it should be remembered that Umno remains the core for Malay-Muslim political parties,” said deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

This is also why politicians like Harapan’s religious czar Mujahid Yusof Rawa are determined to buff up their religious bona fide. They do not have a history of the kind of Islam that has been fed to the masses for decades.

Indeed, Mujahid has a history of “progressive” politics which has come back to bite him, hence he is always on the lookout to demonstrate how Islamic the Harapan regime is.

Do not dismiss the union of PAS and Umno. With Zakir in play, Malaysia, more than ever, could become the Islamic paradise some would like it to be. Unlike Harapan, these people know exactly who they are and as the days go by, they will become more unapologetic.

This, of course, would mean more religious interference from Harapan. Zakir would be proud.


– M’kini