KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Not a single PAS member can be a Shiah as the Islamist party’s constitution clearly subscribes to only the Sunni denomination, its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has said in the ideological row brewing in Malaysia.
The Marang MP also took a jab at political foe, Umno, as he questioned the recent spotlight on the decades-long rift between Islam’s two largest schools worldwide here — Sunni and Shiah — which he argued was the result of a rise in secularism.
“This (provision) does not exist in any other parties’ constitutions, including Umno itself which boasts of being Sunni,” Abdul Hadi said in a statement carried yesterday by the PAS-owned news portal, Harakah Daily.
“Because of this Sunni principle, PAS’ Disciplinary Committee can act on other sects in PAS, and not only in disciplinary cases against the PAS administration,” he added.
Abdul Hadi explained that the paramount laws in PAS are based on the holy texts of Quran, Hadith, consensus of Islamic clerics, and “qias” (legal reasoning).
Its adherence to Sunni teachings however does not restrict PAS from interacting with other parties, including non-Muslims, Abdul Hadi said.
He boasted that PAS is “more advanced” in its relationship with other Muslim groups of all ideologies and sects than any other political party in the country.
“PAS can differentiate between Islamic teachings, based on restrictions allowed by the ‘syara’,” the federal lawmaker said, using the Arabic term meaning Muslim code.
“That is how PAS supports the Malaysian government’s diplomatic relations with Iran, Oman, including Western and communist nations,” he added.
In the Umno’s general assembly recently, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had ordered the religious authorities to take action against PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu for his alleged Shiah links.
Mohamad had since described allegations of his Shiah beliefs as “lies”, after Putrajaya furnished purported evidence of his links to the Islamic sect that is considered deviant despite being practised by an estimated 15 per cent of 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.
The Penang-born speaker has said he is considering suing Zahid and the Home Ministry for defamation over the Shiah claims.
PAS leaders have also rallied behind its deputy president since the allegations were made publicly against Mohamad, with Hadi seen as his most vocal and lucid supporter.
Hadi said the rise of secularism among Muslims has driven a bigger wedge among the religion’s many schools, noting that the different denominations had previously existed peacefully side- by-side.
“Muslims were divided with secularism which separates political and worldly affairs from Islam, causing them to adhere to many ideologies different from Islam, especially nationalism,” said Hadi.
“In the same time, the issue of different sects in Sunni and Shiah were made a material to pit Muslims together, until they even requested for the service and help of the colonials to fight each other.”
According to the PAS president, there are two sects in the Shiah denomination that are not considered deviant by religious clerics: the Imami and the Zaidi, which are also known as the Twelvers and Fivers.
Abdul Hadi’s argument comes in the wake of a growing storm within the federation’s biggest creed, with the country’s foremost religious authority, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), stating yesterday that all branches of Shiah teachings deviate from the Sunni Islam practised here, and are therefore a violation of Islamic law.
Shiah is Islam’s second-largest branch practised by an estimated 15 per cent of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide but is regarded as deviant by Malaysia, which follows the Sunni school.
The division between Sunni and Shiah resulted from a political split over the leadership succession after the death of Prophet Muhammad, with Shiites maintaining that the Muhammad had designated his cousin and son-in-law Ali as the rightful heir.
Muslims worldwide who identify themselves as a Shi’ite are largely from Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain while those in Southeast Asia predominantly follow Sunni Islam.