Ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended Kassim Ahmad’s ‘anti-Hadith’ trial today and lamented about those who ‘use faith’ for ‘political gain’ and to ‘win votes’.
I think it is very noble of Tun (and his daughter Marina) to attend Kassim Ahmad’s trial as a show of support. However, I humbly disagree with Tun’s view that religion (in this case meaning Islam, of course) is being used for political gain and to win votes.
And I will explain why rather than just say “I disagree” like many Malaysians do without giving any reasons as to why they disagree (a common phenomena in the comments section of Malaysia Today).
Anwar Ibrahim has said it many times in the past since long before he turned traitor and joined Umno soon after Tun became Prime Minister in 1981. And what Anwar said is Islam is an adeen or a way of life (meaning more than just a religion). The Qur’an, in fact, states this same fact when it says that the followers of Moses and the followers of Jesus who follow the adeen of Abraham are the true submitters (Muslims).
(Did you notice that the Qur’an says the followers of Moses and Jesus and not the followers of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad? I will let Muslims figure that one out for themselves. Why the followers of Moses and Jesus and not the followers of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad?)
Most Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad had always been a monotheist (in fact, Muslims would say that Muhammad was always a Muslim and was never a pagan) from the very beginning. This is actually not true. Muhammad was an orphan who was brought up in a pagan society and hence children would always be influenced or indoctrinated by their elders as well as by society. This is inevitable.
However, the Arabian Peninsula already had Hanifis, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians (alongside the followers of the 356 other Gods housed in the Kabah) at that time. Hence there was quite a rojak (mix) of religions in pre-Islamic Mekah although Allah was the ‘Chief God’ of the 360 gods (and who had three daughters). And the Hanifis, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians were monotheists.
Muhammad also followed his uncle on his business trips to Yemen and Syria and there he came into contact with Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians. Hence Muhammad, while still participating in his pagan family religion, was very much exposed to and influenced by monotheism, in particular Hanifism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity.
Three people who greatly influenced Muhammad were Zayd, a Hanifi, Bahira, a Christian monk, and Waraqa ibn Nawfal, Muhammad’s wife Khatijah’s cousin, a Judeo-Christian priest. Some scholars believe that these people shaped Muhammad’s view regarding monotheism long before he received the Revelation two decades later and which saw the birth of a new movement now called Islam.
And notice I have used the word ‘movement’ and not ‘religion’ because that is what it was back in those days, movements.
Mekah was the seat of power of the Quraysh tribe, a wealthy tribe that Muhammad belonged to. And they were wealthy because they controlled politics. And to control politics you must first control religion. Hence political and economic power came as a package with religious power. You had to control religion to be able to control politics and in turn to be able to control the economy.
When Muhammad finally turned fully monotheist (which Muslims believe happened after the Revelation) he challenged the established Quraysh religious belief which in turn threatened their political power and economic domination. So Muhammad now became a threat to the political structure and economic domination of the Quraysh and therefore had to be eliminated.
A plot was hatched to assassinate Muhammad in his sleep but just before the assassination could be carried out Muhammad and Abu Bakar (the First Caliph after the death of Muhammad) escaped to Yathrib (later renamed Medina) and it was here that Muhammad set up and strengthened his new movement.
So what Muhammad set up in Medina was not a new religion. In fact, Muhammad stated that he was not introducing a new religion but was confirming and completing the old religions (meaning, of course, the monotheist religions of Abraham). What Muhammad set up in Medina was a movement. And that movement is now called Islam.
So, to those who believe that there should be separation of church and state (which even goes against Judaism and Christianity beliefs), this is not what the adeen of Abraham is all about. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are movements. Along the way, of course, the ‘modern’ Jews, Christians and Muslims began adopting the doctrine of separation of church and state. This is contradictory to what the movements stand for.
The Kingdom of God that ‘modern’ Christians talk about is a Kingdom in Heaven. The Jews of pre-Jesus Christ did not regard the Kingdom of God as a Kingdom in the Afterlife (as ‘modern’ Christians do). It is a Kingdom here on earth. And that was what Jesus, too, preached. And that was why they plotted to get rid of Jesus, the same thing they tried to do to Muhammad.
When Muslims say ‘Darul Islam’ it means what the Kingdom of God meant to the early followers of Jesus Christ — before Paul changed that to Christianity is just a religion while political power must remain in the hands of the Roman authority. And that was why Paul’s Christianity was accepted as the religion of Rome (Paul himself was a Roman citizen) while the Christianity of James and all those other ‘Movement of Jesus’ activists was rejected (because it wanted to oust Roman authority).
What PAS is doing is exactly what Jesus and the activists of the Movement of Jesus said we must do: set up a Kingdom of God. There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Abrahamic faiths or Semitic religions. The church is the state. And all those who propagate the separation of church and state are not followers of Jesus or followers of Muhammad. They are followers of pagan Rome.