By Mohd Farhan Darwis
KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Umno Youth ulama (Ilmu) today expressed hopes the talks on Islam between Umno and PAS will become a platform to discuss issues concerning Muslims in Malaysia, but said these should be cancelled if they were only for political expedience.
“We must discuss politics to empower religion, not discuss religion to empower politics,” the chairman of the Ilmu’s working committee secretariat, Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya, told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.
“Our purpose is to reach an agreement over religion, not politics. But if the talks are used only to gain an upper hand in politics, I think they would be better off cancelled,” he said.
Fathul Bari added that Ilmu hoped PAS leaders would take part in the discussions regarding the problems of the Malay-Muslim community.
“We really hope we will be able to hold the talks with PAS spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat as well as PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang.”
He said that he, together with several other young ulama (clerics) such as Dr Fadlan Mohd Othman and Ahmad Fauzan Yahya, planned to take part in the discussion as well.
Malay dailies reported today Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as saying Umno was ready to hold talks on Islam with PAS as long as they were for the betterment of the Muslims, the society and the country.
The Umno vice president appeared surprised by PAS’s offer, and said previous suggestions by Umno to hold such talks between the two had been rejected by PAS, particularly Kelantan Mentri Besar Nik Aziz.
“If we look at past records, Nik Aziz had never agreed (to the talks). At that time, he said Umno cannot be trusted. But if his intentions are sincere and for the betterment of the Muslims, society and the country, then it won’t be a problem for us,” Muhyiddin was quoted as saying.
He was responding to Nik Aziz’s announcement that PAS was open to discussing Islamic issues with all parties, including Umno, in the near future.
Muhyiddin said Umno was ready to accept the offer as the party had long suggested holding such talks to solve the problem of fractures in the Muslim community due to differing ideologies.
According to a previous Sinar Harian Online report, Fathul Bari, who is also former religious adviser for the National Heart Institute (IJN), had set out guidelines to ensure any talks on Islam achieve their objective.
“The topics discussed must be clear and have direction, the moderator must be fair and not slanted towards any party, while the place to hold the discussions must be agreed upon by all and take into account manners as well as ethics,” he was quoted as saying.
He stressed that such discussions must remain academic rather than emotional, and participants must be open to accepting the truth based on the Quran and Sunnah.
“The purpose of the talks is to strengthen Islam, not the agendas of particular parties or figures. We do not want the discussions to be of no benefit,” he added.