(conservatism and the square root of evil, in the full post)
- That there is one, and only one TRUE interpretation vis-á-vis Islam – the mainstream conservative viewpoint. There’s also this prevalent view that “mainstream equals right/correct”, and any alternative minority opinions seen as bordering on heresy. This is partly exhibited by which books relating to Islam have been banned in Malaysia (apparently Harussani sits on the KDN’s Quranic Texts Department book review/censorship board).
- Support of strict regulation on who can or cannot speak about Islam. And there are numerous inconsistencies relating to this – it appears as though conservative groups are “tolerated” (Hizb ut-Tahrir, for example).
- The tendency to not want discussion done openly – this was exhibited quite clearly in how PGSM rebutted Dr. Maza’s rebuttal press conference. This aversion towards transparency gives the whole Third Power Column a sinister feel to it, rightly or wrongly perceived. Last Friday’s congregational prayer sermon (khutbah) at the Putrajaya mosque, authorized by Jakim, was clearly targeted at curtailing speech when it comes to discourse about Islam (see here for a transcription in Jawi)
- Islam is constantly under threat – this scare tagline is used to put blame on everything else except the failure of the Islamic bureaucracy itself. And it’s always other sinister elements out to do Islam in. Introspection is superficial, and it’s always someone else’s fault (this is a common trait of conservatives the world over).
- Obsessive protection of the predominantly conservative ulama (cleric) institution. No matter how skewed their opinions may be, these ulama are never in error. The more conservative the opinion the better, it seems.
Remember the Executive Cabinet’s move to try to put a stop to child conversions some months back, how the council of Rulers had an unscheduled meeting soon after, and essentially put a stop to the Government’s idea?
Who called for the meeting? Hint: it wasn’t the Prime Minister, the one usually calling for unscheduled meetings by convention (or so Walski’s been told).
And that’s exactly how powerful the Third Power Column is – without mandate from the electorate, they can, have, and in the future, will, influence public policy.
Still think that the religious conservatives are a benign lot, who albeit loud, don’t have any real influence? Think again.
Sadly, Malaysian society today is ripe for the picking – Malay/Muslims grow up conditioned to NOT ever question authority, especially religious authority, coupled with a steadily declining education standard, and the ability to think critically. No matter what discipline one practices professionally, logic simply goes out the window when it comes to religious matters. Logic and reason are, in fact, shunned, claiming that religious matters transcend logic.
Another popular argument against opining about religion in the open: the doctor/mechanic analogy – the one where you wouldn’t go to just any Tom, Dick, or Harun to consult about medical matters. What this argument ignores is the fact that in the current situation, one is not allowed to seek a second opinion either. And the truth is that there are many opinions and viewpoints within the fold of Islam.
Well, today will see an acid test, of sorts, as to how pervasive the influence of the Third Power Column is – because later this morning, Dr. Asri will (finally) be charged in the Gombak Syariah Court. And for what? Enactments aside, the real reason is that Dr. Maza presents a problem to the conservatives.
The real purpose of charging him is to attempt to silence him, and the learned criticisms he makes about the conservative ulama class, and those who blindly support them.
Today will see whether rationality can overcome the influence of the real SQUARE root of evil…