Most political parties in the country have some kind of agreement or understanding with their elected representatives or candidates selected for election. In most cases this involves the need to vacate seats or reimburse the party for election expenses if representatives “party-hop “and join another group.
This practice is understandable as some Malaysian Opposition politicians are prone to joining the party in power if they are offered the right “incentives”, as we have seen a little too often in the past.
Although such agreements or “aku janji” are not valid under the law (the Constitution says that no agreement that curtails the freedom of association can be valid), this does not stop political parties from seeking some political security from their elected representatives.
However, there is usually nothing to gain by having such an agreement.
The most ridiculous agreement is the one prepared by PAS for its representatives. Under its bai’ah dan sumpah (religious oath) agreement for the 2013 General Election , elected representatives agreed that if they left the party or hop to another political group, then the effect of such an action was akin to divorcing one’s spouse (or wives, in the case of polygamous men).
Now, this is where some current PAS representatives—who are considering joining Gerakan Harapan Baru—are having sleepless nights. They believe the bai’ah to be an insurmountable hurdle.
Over coffee and a nice cigar I told some friends of these representatives not to worry. The bai’ah is not valid and is unenforceable under our law, so throw the agreement away.
They then referred to the statement of the Chief Judge of the Kelantan Shariah Court, who pronounced the bai’ah valid and said that leaving PAS was tantamount to divorcing one’s spouse. I am not surprised that the Chief Judge would say so but he is definitely wrong.
Firstly, as a judge he should listen to arguments from both sides of every case brought before him before coming to a decision. It is wrong for a judge to render an opinion without a case being brought before the court. Even if he were under some political pressure to express an opinion, he must resist giving a personal opinion on a matter that is being discussed in the public domain and not his court.
Secondly, as a Shariah Chief Judge he must know that in Islam one must always do the lesser evil if a greater evil may be avoided. Failing to observe the bai’ah is a lesser evil compared to the vastly greater evil of divorcing one’s innocent spouse. Surely married Muslims know that during the marriage ceremony they took oaths to care for their spouses and to love them.
What has happened to that oath, dear Chief judge? Is it of lesser importance to the oath that was truly a political gimmick done against the law of the land?
Surah Hud, at verses 29-83, contains the story of Prophet Lot dealing with the men of Sodom. On being informed by angels of God’s punishment for the men of Sodom, Lot was prepared to offer his daughters to the men so that they might leave off their sinful ways, but the men declined. In a way, Lot was prepared to choose the lesser evil of sacrificing his daughters in place of the greater evil of continuing to allow his people to suffer God’s anger.
In Surah Al Nisa, verse 25 , Allah instructs believers to marry their slave girls if they fear zina (adultery). Marrying a slave girl (not a done thing in those days) is lesser evil than adultery, so again the principle of lesser evil was followed.
In Surah Al Baqarrah verse 173, Allah explains that we are allowed to eat dead meat or flesh of swine, if we are forced by necessity to do so. Here again the principle of lesser evil applies.
Coming back to the use of bai’ah by PAS to deter the exodus of members to Gerakan Harapan Baru, I hope Muslim scholars will come forward to stop this pathetic attempt to use Islam for selfish political purposes. Innocent women should not suffer because of their husband’s politics; and the sanctity of marriage should not be soiled because of politics.
Political Islamists always use the fear of God as a political weapon. They like to confuse their own members. Scholars must resist this. Once upon a time, PAS leaders said one was “kafir” (an infidel) if one associated with UMNO. Today they support UMNO President Dato’ Seri Najib Razak and they do not call themselves “kafir”.
So this declaration by the PAS ulama is actually worth nothing at all. PAS elected representatives should abandon PAS altogether and not be worried about the bai’ah. In Islam we are enjoined to do good and to avoid evil. That’s what matters.