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Genesis and Development of A “Nonpartisan” Political Actor: The Formation of the Jama’ah Islah Malaysia (JIM) and its Roots in Western Europe



This paper looks at the genesis and development of the Jama’ah Islah Malaysia (JIM), a modernist-reformist Islamist organisation that today has played a vital and visible role in the political landscape of Malaysian politics. Little is known about the early genesis of JIM, and how it began in the 1970s and 1980s as a student-based cadre organisation, created by Malaysian Muslim students studying abroad in Europe and North America. JIM’s roots therefore lie in the Islamic Representative Council (IRC) that was a semi-underground student-cadre movement that was created outside Malaysia, and which aimed to bring about the Islamisation of Malaysian society through the process of social and political mobilisation. Working through the archives of JIM today and interviewing the foundermembers of JIM and the IRC, this paper is the first historical account of the formation and development of IRC and JIM to be published.
The Formation of the Jama’ah Islah Malaysia
(JIM) and its Roots in Western Europe
Sophie Lemiere
Doctoral Candidate, Sciences-Po Paris
This paper looks at the genesis and development of the Jama’ah Islah
Malaysia (JIM), a modernist-reformist Islamist organisation that today
has played a vital and visible role in the political landscape of Malaysian
politics. Little is known about the early genesis of JIM, and how it began
in the 1970s and 1980s as a student-based cadre organisation, created
by Malaysian Muslim students studying abroad in Europe and North
America. JIM’s roots therefore lie in the Islamic Representative Council
(IRC) that was a semi-underground student-cadre movement that was created
outside Malaysia, and which aimed to bring about the Islamisation of
Malaysian society through the process of social and political mobilisation.
Working through the archives of JIM today and interviewing the founder-
members of JIM and the IRC, this paper is the first historical account of
the formation and development of IRC and JIM to be published.
Keywords: Jama’ah Islah Malaysia, political actor,student movement
A. Introduction
The Jama’ah Islah Malaysia (JIM) is among the most prominent
Islamic NGOs in contemporary Malaysia. With more than 10,000
members spread all around the country, its activities range from social
welfare, education to proselytism (dakwah). According to its own
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constitution this organization is not supposed to take a part in any
political activities and officially remains as an Islamic welfare society.
Nonetheless JIM’s Islamist agenda has been clearly expressed since its
official registration in 1990.
In reality, JIM’s political ambition has been completely outlined
abroad (mostly in the UK and Egypt) in the 1970’s by the leaders of
Malaysian students’ organizations referred in the UK as the Islamic
Representative council (IRC). Since the return of this generation of
foreign trained students in the 1980’s, their involvement in the Islamist
reformist movement of Malaysia has been an essential and controversial
part of the political and civil society scene.
This paper will present the history of JIM and focus on its political
role from the 70’s to the Reformasi era. The aim is to show how, for
more than 30 years, a “non-partisan” political actor has been able to
inspire political change, to shape political leaders, to develop and to
maintain its key position as a third party between political parties and
Malaysian society throughout the country’s political history.
This paper is in fact the first academic research conducted on
this organisation that remains unknown by the public and the academia.
The fact that the organisation was created by a small and close
intellectual circle explains the reason why it had always been elitist in
term of membership and secretive in its action during the first 10 years
of its political. Nevertheless the organisation is very well known by
other politicians or activist and from the people who benefit its welfare
B. JIM and its Development in Malaysia and Abroad
Today Malaysia’s civil society space is being contested by a wide
range of Islamist and Islamic NGOs and social movements that are
relatively new on the scene. Up to the 1990s, it was assumed that
Malaysian civil society would be dominated by local civil society NGOs
like Aliran, Suaram, Hakam, JUST as well as internationally-linked
NGOs like Amnesty International. For more than three decades the
defining character of Malaysian civil society was that it was dominated
by secular and western-educated urban middle-classed professionals
and activists, many of whom had enjoyed some degree of higher
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The Formation of the Jama’ah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
education in Malaysia or abroad.
Over the past few years however, and particularly during the
period of rule under former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
(2004-2009) Malaysian civil society has become more contested as a
result of a wide range of new issues, many of which touched on
sensitive subjects such as freedom of religion, speech and political
affiliation. Local Malaysian commentators have begun to notice the
rise of new Malay-Muslim NGOs and social movements such as Teras,
Prowaris and Pekida that have made their opinions known in the public
sphere, particularly over issues that touch on the status of the Malay
community and the role of Islam in the governance of the country.
While many of these new Malay-Muslim NGOs have presented
themselves as defenders of Malay-Muslim communal interests, few
analysts and researchers have tried to look at the longer historical ties
that link some of the Islamist movements of Malaysia today to the
developments of the 1960s and 1970s. This gives the mistaken
impression that what we are seeing today is a new phenomenon, when
the fact is that many of the current Islamist/Islamic movements in
Malaysia have a longer and more complex history.
The aim of this paper is to look at one Muslim NGO that has
such a complex history and how this movement first came to be created
among a group of Malaysian Muslim students who were studying in
the West in the 1970s. The focus of this paper will be on the Jama’ah
Islah Malaysia (JIM) that has now been formally registered as a legal
organisation that remains politically ‘neutral’ and ‘non-partisan’ on its
own terms. It will look at how this group first began as a semi-
underground network of Malaysian Muslim students who were based
in Europe, and how over the course of the past four decades it has
transformed itself into a legal organisation that openly declares its
intention to work towards the Islamisation of Malaysian society.
The paper will end with some conclusions about JIM’s role in
the Islamisation process of Malaysia, and what role and place it has to
play today in the middle of Malaysia’s political domain and civil society
See: Shahnon Shah, The Rise of Muslim NGOs, in: http://
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space. With the return to race-based and religion-based communitarian
politics in Malaysia, can an Islamist movement like JIM maintain its
identity as an ideology-based Islamist movement dedicated to
Islamisation while also rejected the claims of racial and ethnic politics?
Or will JIM finally be marginalised by the rise of new race-based social
movements in Malaysia, which may indicate the end or failure of
ideological non-racial Islam in the country?
1. The Formation of the Student-based Islamic Representative
Council (IRC) in the 1970s: A prelude to JIM
Following the inter-racial riots between the Malays and Chinese
in Malaysia in May 1969, the Malaysian government was forced to
take steps to elevate the economic, material and educational status of
the Malay-Muslim majority population in order to strengthen the support
for the ruling Malay-based UMNO party. In 1972, the Malaysian
government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak
started to send young Malaysians to study abroad as part of its new
economic development policy. The NEP (New Economic Policy) was
introduced in 1970 and was in fact a set of special measures and rights
designed to enhance the development of the Malay majority in the
context of post racial riots that had occurred in May 1969. Not
surprisingly, most of these Malaysian students were from the majority
Malay-Muslim community that was identified as Bumiputeras.
The NEP is in practice an affirmative action programme for the
majority of Malaysian society considered as ‘sons of the soil’ or
Bumiputera. The students, from A level to university level from all
around the country were sent to college and universities in English
speaking countries (UK, US and Australia) as well as other parts of
Europe and in the Middle-East (Egypt, Jordan etc). These students
would stay and study abroad for 5 to 10 years and sometimes longer.
Once they were sent abroad however, there was little that the
Malaysian government could do to control the activities of the students.
Zaid Kamarrudin (1973) and Saari Sungip (1976) were a part of this
wave of young potentials sent over England. Both, who later became
JIM’s presidents, were sent to Southern England (Brighton Polytechnic
and Southampton University, then Birmingham University) for their A
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levels then they would have pursue into engineering studies at a
university level.
Zaid and Saari had a similar family background and education
with basic religious knowledge. Both recall the cultural shock when
arriving in England (see appendix X). Facing a situation where they
both had no cultural landmarks, Islam was revealed to them as a part
of their identity. Thus, they naturally joined Muslim groups and
associations that had been formed by young Muslims students from
the middle-east. This was their first interaction with non-Malaysian
Muslims and foreign Islamic literature. From that point Zaid
Kamarudin realized ironically that “in Malaysia our understanding of islam
was general (…) The West was a platform to understand the meaning of Islam
(see appendix X).
The activities offered at that time where clearly politically
motivated in the midst of the Cold War when capitalism was opposing
socialism, Islamism would be seen as the third main political ideology.
Before that Saari would have never considered the political means of
Islam: From that point I started to see Islam as an ideology, not only a religion”.
Saari and Zaid attended regularly the talks, seminars and prayers
organized by Islamic students associations or low profile groups in
mosque or private places. The intellectual training of the highly
motivated students would be organized in small cells called Usrah.
This would concern a minority of the members of these organizations.
Most of the others members, less politically involved, would just attend
the Friday prayers or rather less intellectual activities.
The groups would read common literature and discuss it, listen
to scholars or Islamist activists from abroad or locally settled. According
to the literature of reference such as Hassan al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb
the influence of the Ikhwan’ul Muslimin and the Jama’at-e Islami in
those groups were obvious. Nevertheless, the link to Ikhwan would
never really be mentioned as the members of this organization would
have escaped from prosecution in Egypt.
As the training went Zaid and Saari realized that their own
ambition for Malaysia was different from the mode of struggle praised
by Ikhwan or Jama’at. Therefore the Malaysians student would still
participate to the usrah training given by these organizations but had
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the same time shaped their own movement. The Islamic Representative
Council (IRC) was created earlier among Malaysian students as a sort
of loose federation, registered within the Federation Of Student Islamic
Societies (FOSIS) the umbrella group for all the students’ Islamic
societies created in mid sixties to early seventies. As the members joined
the informal group created by Saari and Zaid, and then return to
Malaysia, the group will always remain labelled as the IRC. (see
interview saari p2)
IRC was an alternative to the Muslims middle-eastern societies
(associations), with its own references and aims. We adopted the approach
of Islamists like Maudoodi, al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb. Our training was
grounded on the Quran, Hadith, Tafsir ect” (saari) . According to Saari, in
79 about 8000 Malaysians muslims student sponsored by the
government, 1500 of them would be members of IRC while only 600
to 800 would be really active in the training. According to Zaid this
group would be the most organized and numerous at the time. (see
appendix A).
Fuziah Salleh arrived in the UK in 1976, she was 17 at the time.
She remembered being approached by Zaid kamaruddin’s wife. In fact
as a vocal and critic student she was seduced by the concept of this
intellectual and political training and interaction with others Muslims.
IRC was a very intellectual and critical platform that suited my profile”.
A clear distinction was made between male and female in the
usrah. The female would have had access to the same literature
nevertheless they would receive minor attention from external speakers
like activist and scholars giving talk to those group. In the 80’s, as a
women leaders, Fuziah advocated in favour of more fairness between
the men and women groups and had a statement adopted to restore
the women status within IRC.
In fact the interaction between male and female within IRC was
quite rare but rather highly encouraged. “Chaperoned rendezvous” and
marriages would be organized between members. As Fuziah Salleh
recalled “We didn’t have many occasion to socialize because of its separation
between men and women. We had a kind of matchmaking buro which later
become official. “. According to Saari that was “Love at the first sight but
after marriage”.
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2. 80’s: the Return of the Elite to Malaysia: IRC Members Come
The creation of this students’ Islamist reformist movement in
the UK should be put in the context of Malaysian domestic politics at
the time. The foundation of IRC could be seen as an alternative Islamist
entity while the Islamist Party of Malaysia was allied to the ruling
party UMNO.
In December 1976, Anwar Ibrahim, leader of a strong Islamist
movement based in ABIM, came to England and met the IRC members.
In fact, IRC and ABIM had a common influence from Ikhwan. ABIM
had links to Ikhwan via the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY)
which was the front of the Egyptian brotherhood in Malaysia. ABIM
members would be sent to join and interact in the IRC program. In fact
the ambition of the IRC group to join and support the Islamist
movement in Malaysia was slowly grounded into the existing Islamist
non-governmental structures of Malaysia.
The IRC members started to come back to Malaysia in 1978.
Zaid and Saari came back to Malaysia in 1982. The consensus made
then among the members was to not create any alternative movement
but to support the existing structures (NGOs and parties). “We found
that there was a vibrant Islamic movement in Malaysia thanks to Anwar Ibrahim.
Because of our experience in forming the IRC as an attempt to create a unified
movement we decided not to form another movement” (ZK interview 2). At
the time the group had been joined by other returning students from
the middle-east or other parts of Europe, such as Professor Hatta (from
Egypt) who later became the second president of JIM. At the time the
structure was informal and the group had no particular name.
The co-optation of Anwar by UMNO in 1982 led to the
discrediting of Anwar himself and ABIM in the eyes of the Islamist
activists in Malaysia and abroad. “Unfortunately Anwar changed a lot when
he joined UMNO, and everything collapsed; my world collapsed” (Saari p2)
“Our ideal of a mass Islamic movement was trashed”. In fact, because of its
weak link to the international Islamist network at the time and as a
consequence of Anwar’s choice ABIM lost its international influence.
In contrast, IRC had very strong links to other Islamist circles in the
US, Europe, Australia and the Middle-East and naturally became a
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main interlocutor.
The Islamist reformist movement in Malaysia had started in the
late 1960s. ABIM, Darul Arqam and the Tablighi Jama’at were among
the main organizations and movements to work together towards the
implementation of an Islamic state. PAS had left the ruling
governmental coalition in 1978. The choice made by IRC members
was to strengthen the existing Islamist movement of Malaysia.
Saari Sungip was seen as the leader of the informal IRC (since
1984) and was asked by its main leaders to implement the usrah training
methodology within the party. “At the time there were no strong leaders and
no discipline. […] we believe in political participation by helping PAS but we
wanted to remain exclusive tarbiyyah oriented and producing Qadis (leaders)
until we are strong enough to create our own organisation. […] But we didn’t
want to discredit PAS or ABIM anyway.” Saari then wrote under a
pseudonym (Abu Urwah) a whole set/collection a political literature
called “Usrah”.
Following the example set by Saari, each of the IRC trained
leaders joined ABIM or PAS, on an individual basis and not under the
banner of any organisation. Their link to IRC was to remain secretive.
C. The Foundation of the Jama’ah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
1. Late 1980’s: the IRC Controversy
Because of the strong influence and contribution made by the
IRC members in term of training methodology, political strategy (etc.)
tensions arose between the leaders trained abroad, all labeled as ‘IRC
people’ (even though they had been trained in the Middle East but not
the UK) and the locally trained leaders. In fact, a real intellectual gap
existed between the elitism and intellectualism of the IRC trained type
leaders and the local trained leaders and members of ABIM or the
Islamist Party.
At the time the IRC was suspected by both the Malaysian
government as well as the Islamist movements and political parties in
Malaysia. The Malaysian government was worried that the IRC could
have the same potential as the revolutionary movements that had
emerged in places like Iran, Egypt and Pakistan, and was concerned
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about the IRC’s possible links with Egyptian and Pakistani Islamist
groups that had become more powerful in their respective countries.
Since 1979 the Malaysian government had tried its best to domesticate
all forms of Islamist opposition in the country, and this was also the
main reason why ABIM was neutralized by the co-optation of its leader
into UMNO.
The IRC however was less easy to control and co-opt because
of its semi-underground character and the higher level of ideological
commitment of its members and leaders. The fact that the IRC was
not formally registered also meant that it was not possible for the
Malaysian government to ban the movement; and the fact that its
activities were semi-underground also meant that it was not easy to
arrest the members.
Apart from the Malaysian government, the mainstream Islamist
parties and movements of Malaysia were also unhappy with the IRC.
The Islamic party PAS during the leadership of its President Asri Muda
was less inclined to support any form of revolutionary politics and
more concerns with communal issues such as the status of the Malays
and the promotion of the Malay language as the national language of
Malaysia. The IRC’s non-communal and anti-racial stand meant that it
did not support the narrow nationalism of PAS or UMNO, and as such
it was not welcomed by either party.
In time there developed the rumor of an IRC plot to infiltrate
the Islamic party PAS. The ‘IRC conspiracy’ story spread in the Islamist
party’s newspaper (Harakah etc. see reference) and IRC members would
be seen as spies trying to take over the Islamist movement. “The fact
that we encouraged our returning members to ABIM and PAS was a failure;
they [ABIM and PAS] thought we were infiltrating them”. The IRC’s
involvement strategy contributed to a climate of profound suspicion
on every of its members until now.
In an attempt to put an end to the controversy, the IRC members
decided to identify themselves in an official manner. The creation of
JIM was done with the approval of Anwar Ibrahim and PAS leader
Ustaz Hadi Awang. From then any returning students from abroad with
IRC type training would join the organization.
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In fact the organisation submitted its application for registration
in 1989 but managed to get it only cleared in 1990. Because of its
political ambition the Registrar of Societies (ROS) insisted that the
organisation must not have any political activities. In that respect, JIM
had to be registered as a “society” (jama’ah) and not an “association”
Saari became the first president (until 1999) of JIM and Professor
Hatta, a medical doctor trained in Egypt, as vice president. From then,
JIM would pursue the same mission as before but in an open manner.
Progressively the relationship between ABIM, PAS and JIM would
be built on a shared agenda, mutual support and cordial relationships
between leaders.
During the elections in 1995, JIM would take an official step to
support PAS and encouraged its members “to vote for candidates regardless
of any party that would strengthen the Islamic principles”. Saari explains “our
agenda wasn’t secret anymore and PAS was the base for us”. On a voluntary
basis, the members would then help the PAS machinery. By (date) the
leadership of ABIM had changed for a younger generation (context
more info exact date). In fact the newly elected president of JIM, Ahmad
Azzam was related to Zaid Kamaruddin. Their family ties helped to
reconstruct a confident relationship between both organisations. To
quote Saari Sungip After many year of prejudices ABIM and JIM could
finally come together.
2. 1998 onward, the Reformasi Era: Affirmation of a New Political
In 1997-98 the Malaysian economy suffered its worst crisis since
independence in 1957 with the East Asian financial crisis. This in turn
led to a political clash between the then Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad and his deputy Anwar Ibrahim.
In the mist of the political divorce between Mahathir and Anwar,
JIM felt that the time for a major political change was come. The
relationship between the mentor and his protégé had developed to the
point that they would be seen horse riding together. Nevertheless, as
Mahathir declared “in politics, today’s friend are tomorrow enemy and today’s
enemy are tomorrow friends” (at the UMNO General Assembly of May
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1998) and the political conspiracy to sack Anwar had started soon
after the challenge to Mahathir that year.
JIM’s leadership responded to the preliminary attacks on Anwar
by sending a letter to both individuals. Anwar would deny the gravity
of the situation until his official expulsion from UMNO on 2
September 1998. A second letter from JIM was sent to Mahathir to ask
for the repositioning of Anwar in the government. To quote Saari “We
were trying to pull a hair from a tiger face!” During all this time, JIM’s
leadership would maintain his non-confrontational position towards
the ruling party. On September 4
, JIM issued a memorandum of
support to Anwar. The previous disagreement that opposed the former
ABIM leader to JIM was buried in the name of Justice (Appendix B).
The Reformasi movement was officially launched on 6
when Anwar pronounced the motto for its first time. To support Anwar,
the main Islamist organisations had come together in informal coalition.
On 5th and 6
September the GERAKAN was the umbrella by ASASI
(ABIM’s intellectual group), PKPIM (ABIM student branch), JIM and
ABIM. In fact JIM would be seen as a leading organisation and was
involved in the organisation of the demonstrations of 20
at Dataran Merdeka (Independence square).
Anwar was arrested on 20
September. The following day while
all the leaders of the coalition were holding an emergency meeting 4
leaders of ABIM were arrested by special branch agents and detained
for 10 days. From that day, ABIM would remain less involve in the
By 25
October the main political parties would have join the
coalition under the impulsion of PAS leader Fadzil Noor. Gerakan
Keadilan was not officially registered but it comprised of 12 NGOs
and the three main political parties (among which ASASI, PKPIM,
coalition organised road shows to advocate for the release of Anwar
considered as a threat to public order and detained under ISA (exact
legal ground). The coalition would deliberately hide the reformasi
agenda and only call for justice.
Until his first arrest and after his release Saari Sungip would be a
main speaker for the road shows and among the most vocal leaders of
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the Islamist movement in the context of reformasi. And even after his
arrest, JIM would be closely identified with the reformasi movement
and the related campaigns by other civil society NGOs that were aimed
at dismantling the structures of state control in Malaysia, ranging from
the campaign against the Internal Security Act to other repressive laws
like the Sedition Act.
The most important development of this period (1998-2009) is
that JIM was able to transform itself first into a registered social
movement and NGO and to also make its way into the mainstream of
Malaysian civil society and politics. After his release from detention
without trial, Saari Sungip along with other leaders of JIM became
important personalities in the civil society space of Malaysia: The IRC
was no longer an underground movement, but had become a mainstream
civil society NGO working with political parties for both the
democratization and Islamisation of Malaysian society.
How and why was this possible? The first reason was the collapse
of UMNO and UMNO’s image following the reformasi movement. The
reputation of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was severely
damaged by the campaign launched by Anwar and the negative media
impact of Anwar’s arrest merely added to the feeling that the UMNO
party had lost touch with the Malaysian public and Malaysian Muslims
in particular.
This did not change during the period of Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi (2003-2009) who was likewise blamed for the failure of
governance in the country and his inability to meet the demands of
new Malay-Muslim NGOs, many of which were demanding right-wing
protective measures to defend the position of the Malays and Islam in
the country.
The second reason was the reform process that was also taking
over in PAS thanks to the measures that were introduced by a new
generation of PAS leaders like Hatta Ramli and Dzulkefly Ahmad,
who were also previously linked to IRC/JIM. As a result, PAS was
now becoming a new national-based party reaching out to non-Malays
and non-Muslims, articulating a new political discourse of good
governance, democracy and transparency. As PAS become more
mainstream and less Malay-centric, the space was opened for new groups
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like JIM to come forward to present a more ideological and less
communal-centric interpretation of Islam that was in line with
democratic reform.
Thus the changes in both UMNO and PAS had a direct effect on
the civil society space of Malaysia, and this was the new space in
which JIM could present itself as a model Islamist NGO/social
movement that was more in tune with the aspirations of the new
generation of Malay-Muslim activists who no longer wanted to see the
perpetuation of the ISA, NEP and other forms of governance
associated with the Mahathir era. Reformasi was therefore the biggest
and best opportunity for JIM to re-launch itself as a national movement
with national appeal, and it did so when it was given the chance.
The reformasi era gave the opportunity to the organisation to
strengthen its strategy, its leaders and to achieve its political ambition
as a part of the Islamist movement. To quote Saari: “JIM was big and
famous because of the reformasi campaign. We achieved in 2-3 months what we
couldn’t achieve for almost 10 years”.
D. Conclusion: What is JIM Today?
The aim of JIM in term of its political ambition was achieved by
its gradual penetration of the Malaysian political sphere either by
member activation within political parties or by its role as a main
interlocutor and partner for every political party (but more particularly
within the opposition).
According to Zaid Kamarudin, 10% of JIM’s members are
affiliated to political parties. Also most of them would support the
Islamist Party or Keadilan while a small minority would be UMNO
members. Nowadays about 10 leaders of Malaysian politics on State
and parliamentary levels are JIM members. There are no longer active
in the organization but as life members they remain faithful to its project
and ideology. In Keadilan, the contribution by former JIM active
members such as Fuziah Salleh represents another opportunity for the
party to gain the support of Malay-Muslim constituency more
particularly among women.
PAS leaders and members are still trained according to the Usrah
model inspired by JIM and based on the political literature wrote by
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Saari Sungip under his pseudonym Abu Urwah. Nevertheless, the “IRC
conspiracy myth” remains a political tool within PAS to undermine
the position of its leaders who are formers JIM’s members. To quote
Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad:
“The fact that JIM remains seen as an elite and intellectual organization
has certainly limited its reach to the masses but the aim of the IRC
member always been the creation of an exclusive elite group…”
IRC is still active in the UK but had changed its name to the
Majlis Shura Muslimin (MSM) and is now more open than it was in the
1970’s. In fact the organization is officially registered and no longer
exclusive or secretive.
It is important to underline the fact that JIM never supported
any political violence. The core ideology of the organization is grounded
into an Islamist ideology influenced by Ikhwan’ul Muslimin and Jamaat-
e Islami but in a “modern/revised/adapted” version. In that sense,
JIM leaders have been working for the establishment of an Islamic
state by a democratic process. Their ideal of a modern Islamic state is
one that aims to promote the role of welfare state, protection of
minorities and the rule of law.
Throughout its history JIM has never been opposed to the
democratic process or the concept of the nation state. It has been
playing its role as an independent third party calling for the strength of
the political opposition (by political parties and civil society) and the
enhancement of the rule of law denouncing abuse of power (defending
press freedom to a certain extent and abolish ISA).
In terms of its cadre-based training and emphasis on creating a
generation of Islamist intellectual elites, JIM can be comepared to the
Jamaat-e Islami of India and Pakistan. But unlike the movements found
in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and other parts of the Muslim world,
JIM remains more ideologically focused and less inclined to any form
of violent politics. More importantly in the Malaysian context JIM was
one of the first movements to talk about an Islamic identity that was
not linked to racial identity and the status of the Malays, which made
it an Islamist movement that was non-communal and non-sectarian by
nature. After three decades of race-based politics under the NEP, this
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was a welcomed change for many Malaysians of all races and religious
backgrounds, and it increased its appeal to the younger generation of
Malaysian voters and student activists.
JIM remains an Islamist movement that is aimed at creating an
Islamic state in Malaysia, but the aim of the Islamic state is one where
non-Muslims would be given equal status and rights compared to other
Muslim citizens. In this sense it is also a democratic Islamist movement
that seeks to bring about Islamisation via constitutional (democratic)
means and not by force or violence. It also accepts that in a democracy
an Islamic state can be voted out of power, and as such political Islam
can only succeed in the context of a free and transparent democratic
system where there is no state repression or excessive control.
The final question is about where JIM will go from here and how
it will deal with the rise of new right-wing communitarian Malay-
Muslim NGOs and social movements that defend superior status of
Malays in Malaysia.
As yet JIM does not have any non-Malay Muslim leaders and so
has yet to show that it is truly open to non-Malay members. But like
PAS, JIM also accepts that in an ideal Muslim state any Muslim can
rise to power and become the leader of a country or society as long as
he lives up to the standards of good governance. This position is being
strongly rejected by Malay NGOs like Teras, Prowaris and Pekida who
insist on the superior status of Malays as the Bumiputera of Malaysia,
and in the years to come can only lead to further ideological struggle
between JIM and the new wave of right-wing Malay NGOs.
On 9 May 2009 Saari Sungip as former leader of JIM engaged
with the leaders of Prowaris in a public debate held in Kuala Lumpur
to debate whether the Internal Security Act was halal or haram in Islam.
Once again, this public stand taken by a former President of JIM
demonstrated that JIM was an ideological movement that was
promoting a vision of Islam that was non-racial and pro-democratic.
The success of JIM in the future will therefore depend on how strong
The public forum was entitled ‘ISA: Halal or Haram’ and it was a reaction by
the former JIM members and the Anti-ISA movement against the statement of the
leaders of the Malay NGO Prowaris that the ISA was not only halal but should be used
as a tool to defend the status of Islam in Malaysia.
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the non-racial and pro-democratic forces are in Malaysia, and whether
a movement like JIM can develop the process of democratic reform
any further.
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I. Interview with Saari Sungip,
December 2008
The beginnings of JIM in 1976, England:
We were not exposed to political matters as students in high
school. So I was naïve when I arrived in the UK in the 1970s but I was
open to see activism among Malaysian students. That was in the mid
70’s at the peak of the cold war and the revival of Islam. The students
there were then divided into three camps. The three main ideologies in
the cold war context of the 70’s: socialist, nationalist and islamist. For
the first time in my life I was exposed to a lot of literature in English
even religious scriptures like the Quran and Hadith in English, the
writings of (Syed Abul Alaa) Maudoodi, the work of Sayyid Qutb
(Milestones), the works of the al Ikhwan’ul Muslimin, Myriam Jamila (a
convert to Islam), etc. These writings provided me with a new
perspective on Islam. I was reading as well a lot of magazine produced
by Islamic societies in England.
From there I started to see Islam as an ideology not only a religion.
Islam was a challenge to the other systems; it was a new discovery for
me. But in order Islam to be effective it was to develop a strong
Islam as a political ideology: From there I was trained by the
Ikhwan’ul Muslimin and the Jama’at-e Islami in low profile groups active
in mosques and (student) societies, with main reference to Hassan al-
Bana in their teaching.
We were quite fortunate because there were a lot of Ikhwan and
Jama’at supporters in England. The Ikhwan never revealed their link
to the movement but it was obvious to us by their reference to al
Bana, Sayyid Qutb ect. So we attended their Quranic studies circle
and Hadiths studies circle. I was a good student but then Islam became
my main study no more my A levels (at Aston) or later my mechanical
Saari Sungip received his A level certificates from Southampton Technical College,
after which he studied for a degree in mechanical engineering at Aston University.
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engineering degree. I attended all classes still but it was not my main
priority anymore. I got my degree with honors.
We have got to participate in the Islamist movement to struggle
and strengthen it. I got married with my wife when I was 20 when I
completed my A levels. Family is very important. My wife was studying
too there. We married quite early it is important that you have your
cell, your family. We actually organized very well the marriages among
us. We introduced people to each other, and planned their marriages.
“Love at the first sight.. after marriage” We were different than the
socialist Malaysian students in that respect.
We were preaching a lot among Malaysians. I got two kids when
I was in the UK. It make the marriage stronger, we had a mission: We
had to plant the seed of Islam into the kids.
When we understand Islam as a mode of struggle, Islam has to
be implemented through political power but it has to come through a
democratic process. That’s the problem with Pakistan there was nothing
like a democratic process. The same was the case for the Ikhwan in
Egypt. So we didnt want that for Malaysia.
Because of the Ikhwan we took Islam as something
confrontational to the government. Even if there is a democratic
approach in Maudoodi but that was not enough. We always believed
we were the enemy of the state during that time. PAS was actually in
the government at that time. But there was a strong movement in
Malaysia led by Anwar (Ibrahim). ABIM was seen as a vocal quite
radical movement. But to us there was a gap in our perspective and
thinking. In the UK we understood the movement as something
compact and unified. In Malaysia the movement had no proper
discipline in membership or leadership, that was a mass movement
and we don’t subscribe to the idea of a mass movement with no
discipline or no training.
Usrah system: We adopted the approach of Islamists like
Maudoodi , al Bana, Sayyid Qutb. Our training was grounded on the
Quran, Hadith, Tafsir, ect. So we thought that the Malaysian system
was quite loose. We had to memorize a lot the Quran and Hadith and
read a lot.
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At the peak of 1979, around 1,500 Malaysian students had joined
the program. 600 to 800 were activist students who attended regularly.
There were around 7,000 to 8,000 government sponsored Malaysian
students, mainly Malays. And 10,000 privates students, but the majority
among them were Chinese.
Anwar was very popular among us. Ikhwan was looking at ABIM
and there was quite a lot of leaders working in WAMY (World Assembly
of Muslim Youth), that was the front by which the Ikhwan operated.
When Anwar was released the relationship between PAS and UMNO
was bad, in 1976. Datuk Fadzil Noor was then the President of ABIM
(who later became PAS’s president). Anwar organize the movement
with ABIM as the base then the student movement.
Anwar came to UK in December 1976, we were quite impressed
with the idea to strengthen Islamic movement. He sent some ABIM
members to interact with us in our programs. There was a close
relationship with the PAS leader and Anwar at the time. So we were
keen to a strong united Islamic movement led by Anwar.
Unfortunately Anwar changed a lot when he joined UMNO (in
1982). And everything collapsed. “My world collapsed”. ABIM was
very strong in Malaysia but not overseas with a lot of links to Ikhwan,
while we were very strong in the states and Europe, Australia and the
middle east. We decided to working without name and continue our
People labeled us as IRC – the Islamic Representative Council.
When our pioneers received training they were ABIM members in
Malaysia but they organize themselves in the UK under this name.
Then they joined us and after they had return IRC remains and became
a platform for our training. The whole idea was placed on idealism and
we never named ourselves. We believed in usrah only but we encourage
our members to be member s of PAS and ABIM to spread usrah
methodology. But that was not infiltration, that’s a sensitive matter.
According to the Sunni criteria there is no Islamic state. Before we
thought that Saudi was the best but after our training in UK we change
our mind.
Tarbi haraki: movement oriented training, to struggle for the
establishment of an Islamic state.
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Islam must be implemented within a democratic process but we
do not subscribe to it fully. The fact that we encourage our returning
members to ABIM and PAS was a failure; they (PAS/ABIM) thought
we were infiltrating them. We continue to do training abroad in
Australia, Europe, Us, Jordan, Egypt to fill up the network . We adopted
a secretive approach that was not public, and I would only train the
leaders among students groups. Most of the training was done to
Malaysians in private places. We never approach then foreign student
except in Britain where we would invite foreign (Arabs) speakers. But
the training for our movement was just for Malaysian students. We
interacted with others just for public events. We had our own standards
of discipline and modes of organization.
At the time, there were no strong leaders and no discipline. We
never discredited ABIM but we believed that an Islamic movement
needs a strong Qadis, strong leaders. It can go through political parties
or civil society. But we lost most of the time.
In 1984, I helped PAS and I wrote materials for them (i.e. books).
We talked about Islamic beliefs and the Islamic way of life, etc.. I was
not a member (of PAS) then. I wrote under my pseudonym. In fact I
never had any contact with PAS before going to England. We believe
in political participation by helping PAS but we wanted to remain
exclusive tarbiyyah oriented and producing Qadis (leaders) until we’re
strong enough to create our own organization.
Between 1987 to 1988, we had a lot of contacts with PAS. In
1989 we decided to officially identify ourselves. Since 1984 I was seen
as the leader of this informal group. In March 1989 we decided to
register as an official NGO, we got in July 1990. The discussion was
going on since late 1988. So, all the people who would have return
from abroad and have had the usrah training would join JIM. This training
wasn’t done in ABIM or PAS unfortunately. But we didn’t want to
discredit PAS and ABIM anyway. So we met Anwar and Ustaz Hadi of
PAS to tell them our plan without looking like a threat to them. We
want to carry on the mission with our own identity, same mission.
I was the first president of JIM until 99, and after me the position
of President was passed on to Professor Hatta.
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Our relationship with Pas continued officially and we keep
participating in their program. The ‘bonus’ came in 1998 when Anwar
was expelled from the government and the leadership of ABIM change
to younger generation. They had a different perception, Ahmad Azzam
(the then President of ABIM) had no prejudices against us.
Prior to Anwar’s expulsion (from UMNO) we held many
discussions and we organised the Gerakan Reformasi (around 5-6
September 1998): ASASI (ABIM’s intellectual group), PKPIM, JIM
and ABIM. After many years of prejudice ABIM and JIM could finally
come together.
On the 25 October 1998, there was the first meeting organised
by PAS, DAP and PRM (Party Rakyat Malaysia) and 14 NGOs with
SUARAM. My dream became true, and we had created a strong
reformist Islamic movement. We officially launched the GERAK
movement on 27 October (1998) and even the PUM (Persatuan Ulama
Malaysia- Malaysian Ulama Society) joined us.
We would only go for a common agenda how to defend Anwar,
support the reformasi movement, free Anwar and build a pact between
parties for a new Malaysia.
In JIM we do not separate politics and other activities. After
gaining our official status we were no longer a threat to government.
We have worked with everyone. We are part of civil society because
we remain independent and we don’t take any single sent from
government, the funds come from supporters. We have preschool
institution and primary school. We came be very vocal and credible
because of this independence.
We started with 5,000 members and by the time I left we were
8,000 but now we more than 10,000. It is not much but good enough.
During my time, we were open to anybody (even PERKIM). We
worked with non-Muslim NGOs and many other religious groups. But
as Muslims we try to work with everyone. We work a lot with Muslim
Chinese NGOs like MACMA. So we are sharing members as well.
When I was engaged in the reformasi movement I was given a
duty by Wan Azizah (the wife of Anwar Ibrahim) to stand for the
Keadilan party. Then she appointed me as a central position member.
But I was in prison at the time. Then I was released in 2004 I contested
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for Keadilan as well. When Anwar was released, I met him and told
him that I want to go back to Islamic-oriented political activism, so I
went to PAS. He would have liked me to stay in Keadilan. At the
elections of March 2008 I stood as a PAS candidate and won a seat in
the state assembly. I don’t think I have changed in terms of
methodology, even when I was anonymous, IRC or JIM, my ideas
remains the same.
ABIM’s participation in Keadilan has been quite minimal. A lot
of their members have migrated to PAS. For JIM it is different. When
the reformasi took place we were approached by PAS’s President (Fadzil
Noor) to give names for candidates in the state elections. So we offered
leaders to PAS. At the same time Anwar did the same. We held internal
discussions and let our members choose the first or the second option.
But they remained JIM members. As the president I was assigned to
strengthen the coalition, arrange meetings, give advice etc.
JIM and the shari>‘ah: The establishment of the shari>‘ah law by
2020 goes along with Keadilan’s agenda. So we, JIM, try to always
make the both agenda fitting.
When the philosophy is understood then people wants to be
punished. They voluntary come to justice. The whole idea of this
philosophy is not to punish but to educate and to fear only God. The
shari>‘ah is intemporel and universal.
In the whole idea of JIM they have a big picture. In it there is the
democratic process, and elections. So the actors are political parties.
So, how to place JIM’s agenda within this framework and strengthen
the movement? Once people understand Islam they will go for justice
and vote right. So we educate on one side and we support on the other
side. We don’t have to tell them what to vote.
II. Interview with Saari Sungip, 30th January 2009
Origins of JIM/IRC in Europe/UK: ‘It started when we were
student activist in the US, Europe and the Middle East. We wanted to
organize a strong Islamic movement in Malaysia. ABIM, Darul Arqam
and Tablighi Jama’at were a part of it.
Then we worked together with ABIM when Anwar Ibrahim was
then their leader. When he (Anwar) joined UMNO (in 1982) our ideal
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of a mass Islamic movement was trashed. When Anwar left to join
UMNO then PAS was out of UMNO too. Then we thought about
working on a strong Islamist movement. Between 1984-1985 we
worked on strengthening PAS. The problem at the time was “Identity”.
When we embrace this idealism, as students, our aim was to base the
movement on proper training and recruitment like in Jama’at-e Islami
and Ikhwan or movement in Libya and Sudan and part of the Wahhabi
movement as well. So we wanted a strong movement like the Prophet
had during his time. We wanted a nucleus of a movement and raise a
state fully founded on the principles of the Quran and the tradition
the holy Prophet and his companions. That was our ideal as students.
In Malaysia, the reality was different. It was going to be a mass
movement: the question of recruitment, organization, training of
leadership and so on was not easy. But we were a small number of
people, with good education and of the same age between 25 to 30
with the same training ground. It was easy for us to share the ideology.
We tried to create this within PAS, where people are coming from
different backgrounds. We formalised the effort and were helped by
people from al Jama’at-e Islami and Ikhwan from Jordan and else as a
part of the brotherhood. We believed in the unity of the ummah and
that it could be strengthened by common shurah (consultation). We
had the same ideas but not in a such hard line as them. We found it
quite difficult anyway. The question of identity rose again. The IRC
controversy came up again. We wanted to end this image of a student
based movement. We wanted to embrace the struggle and embrace a
common platform so we created JIM. 1988-89 the main leaders of
PAS were quite supportive they needed an Islamic NGO based
movement to support PAS. ABIM was more inclined to Anwar and the
government. Our agenda wasn’t secret anymore, and PAS was the base
for us.
When we started JIM, we had the notion of non-confrontational
approach with the government or any other entity. We wanted to create
a benevolent image of an Islamic movement efficient in helping people,
a mediator that translate people need into policies. We did not use the
concept of hudud or Islamic law but we would practice Islam and spread
it with good actions. If Islam is genuinely the base for PAS struggle
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then yes, we were promoting PAS.
We couldnt register as a Jama’ah but we had to go for Pertubuhan
(Society) because the government didn’t want us to go to politics that
s why it took us so long to register. So officially we cannot be involved
in politics .
We work with agencies of the federal government but then we
express our support to local states under the opposition as well
(Kelantan). We were supportive constructive program for the society
until the reformasi.
During elections, the JIM members would vote. In 1985, we
officially encouraged our members to vote for candidate regardless of
any party that can strengthen Islamic principles. That was done only
once. But then our members would help the with the election
machinery, on their own will and they will go for PAS.
The reformasi period: We supported Reformasi and Anwar
Ibrahim, as we were friends since the 70s. Even if we had some
disagreements he will always remain a friend and a brother in Islam.
Anwar responded by calling us in his office. His political
secretaries were there. At first he denied that there was any problem
(between Anwar and Mahathir); it said that it was like a son and father
relationship. So he told us to not worry. Then things didn’t improve
and he (Anwar) was sacked on 2
Septermber (1998). Then we send a
letter on the 3
to Mahathir asking him to take Anwar back. People
would say that we’re trying to pull a hair from a tiger face!
That was not about Anwar only. We had felt betrayed by him
and so on but then we had forgiven him anyway. But it was more on
the principle of justice.
On the 3 and 4
September, right after the sacking of Anwar we
made a big public consultation among the members and leaders of
JIM. Prior to that being non confrontational we heard In June that
Anwar would be sacked. We had time to reinsure our non
confrontational stand. We understand that destabilize UMNO but
destabilize that all country. We decided then to send a letter to Mahathir,
to ask him to arrange his relation to Anwar and solve the problem. We
send the same one to Anwar. We deliver a memorandum of support to
him on the 4th
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The good thing is that during that time when Anwar was about
to be sacked the relationship between JIM and ABIM was very good.
Zaid and ABIM president were relative so it made things easier. Through
ABIM we had a lot of information about Mahathir’s moves. So during
our meeting within JIM, after we had met Anwar we understood the
big conspiracy that was going on. It was the first time that we were
exposed so much to internal politics.
JIM, ASASIM, and ABIM launched on 5th September. Anwar didn’t
want to even pronounce the word Reformasi that year but he wanted to
create the base for it. I was jailed at this really moment and my wife
was in hospital. But at the beginning it was not very clear. Anwar was
hoping that he would reconcile with Mahathir. Various leaders would
go to meet him at night at his place.
On the 6
he pronounced the word reformasi for the first time.
On the 7-8
we issued a open letter to Mahathir saying that his
behaviour was not Islamic and we distributed it via our members
everywhere. We met him (Anwar) on the 9
at his house and we knew
then that no reconciliation was possible and he ensured us that he
would not go back to UMNO.
We were very prominent then. More than ABIM, our decisions
were very strong. On the 20
we were a part the organizers of the big
demo in Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) but we didn’t expect
so many people. But we were not ready then and we asked them to go
back home. That was a big mistake we should have not sent them
back stay and push Mahathir out. The police wasn’t prepared as well.
It is the first time I met Tian Chua. This day was a success because for
the first time people of Malaysia were taking the street for political
reason. They had a political conscience.
PAS was silent at the time because of the clash between UMNO
and PAS. Fadzil Noor met Anwar but on a personal agenda.
On the 20
some of our friends were detained. On the 21
held a meeting without realizing the danger. As soon as we set down in
ABIM office 20 SBs (Special Branch officers) came in and took four
leaders of ABIM for 10 days. Yusri Mohammed was the assistant
secretary general wasn’t on the list, so he was alone and he became our
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Anwar’s reformasi road show: The image of 20
is the image of reformasi. But then it was hard to organise ourselves.
Organising demos was not our agenda at the time. We made statement
send letters through internet etc. But we were beginners in this matter.
Fadzil Noor then called for PAS, PRM, DAP, SUARAM,
GAGASAN, JIM, PUM and ABIM (3 political parties and 12 NGOs)
to come together. So we agreed. Politically of Fadzil Noor was smart.
Because he first brought up the ISA issue and asked for the release of
the detainees without mentioning reformasi. So it was a good consensus.
That was a big blessing for the Islamist movement because we could
come together with PAS. That was one of the best part of my life as a
social activist: GERAKAN KEADILAN. It was just a coalition not
registered. Wan Azizah became the icon of the movement. ABIM wasn’t
in the scene anymore after their detention. They attended only the
meeting but nothing public
I was on a road show throughout the country even Sabah and
Sarawak and Singapore. When I came back from Singapore, I went to
the hospital to see my wife and was arrested on the parking lot before
I had a chance to see her and our new born baby. That was a big shock
for me. It has been very hard during the detention but I still remain
public and active. I had to be strong. At the time we had lawyers but
not very good ones. We had no experience.
By 1999 we became stronger. JIM was big and famous because
of the reformasi campaign. We achieved a lot during reformasi. We
achieved in 2-3 months what we couldn’t achieve for almost 10 years.
December 1998 to January 1999: We met a lot of people with
Anwar in Indonesia and Singapore to strengthen the reformasi movement
with Tian Chua as well and Sivarasa and other Islamic organisation
leaders. We had to decide the future of the movement. Tian and Siva
wanted something loose. ABIM wanted a politically structured
movement. I was open. Finally we decided on a loose movement that
was NGO-based. We had our own symbol (ADIL) but we never got
By February JIM was very vocal. We had big meeting throughout
the country and for the first time we concluded our stand on supporting
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the establishment of an alternative government in Malaysia. We send
a memorandum to everyone even including PBS. We wanted a political
pact between the five parties. When Party Keadilan was established,
we decided that Fuziah (his wife) and I will go to Keadilan. At the
time she was the chief of the women’s wing. I was the middle man
between PAS and Keadilan.
I couldn’t imagine the coup de grace. We got the simple idea to
creating wave for constructive works creative awareness and more
demand for Islamic change. But to me that should be a linear process.
Suddenly it was exponential by our decision to join reformasi.
III. Interview with Dzulkefly Ahmad, 20th March 2009
On his former links to the IRC: ‘IRC! Oh my God.. That ghost
has been hunting me... I don’t know why IRC was so demonised! I was
very much a part of it; but I must state very clear that is phenomenon
of the past, past P.A.S.T.
The IRC was the genesis of JIM but I must stress that don’t have
any kind of bondage of affiliation or affinity to the IRC anymore. That
would be seen as treason, for a PAS member to belong to another
political organisation. The IRC is not no longer an entity. I never was a
member of the central committee of JIM. I was in Kelantan, and I
established JIM in Kelantan but that last for a year and that’s it. In the
days of reformasi I was already very closely associated with PAS. And
by the election in 1999 I was tasked by the late president and I’ve been
here ever since.
When did you establish JIM in Kelantan? ‘1996 or 1997
On the IRC controversy and the allegations that the IRC
had ‘infiltrated’ PAS and ABIM: I went back to the UK between
1990 to 1993. I came back (to Malaysia) in 1993 and that was when
the IRC was transformed to MSM. I don’t have any archive material
on the controversy. I want to forget that history; it has been terrible.
But it keeps coming back to us. Every two years comes back, last year
it came back. Even this year, I nearly lost my position last year because
of so called academics very envious of my position. I’m no longer
bothered about it. I don’t want to lose anymore sleep. It is a boogie
they’re using that for political means. They hope that it would jeopardize
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my position to get the mandate of the members in PAS.
Do the members of PAS still believe in this conspiracy theory?
‘Yes there are some who believe in it, but not the majority of them
otherwise I would have lost my job. I’m an elected central committee
member, for the last two years. And I dont know if I’m going to be
elected again because now it is not about IRC anymore but the
“Erdogan” faction.
Oh you haven’t heard about “the Erdogans”? Then you’ve been
missing the contemporary development in PAS. You know people like
us, so called the professionals, the moderate are been called The
Erdogans by some group in PAS. It is the same kind of accusation as
IRC. So Erdogans are the moderates, seen like more pro-Anwar, pro-
Pakatan kind of things. But ever since Erdogan when he said what he
said to Simon Perez. This group is fan of Erdogan so they all want to
be like him. So they won’t call us Erdogans anymore because it is now
a good thing. But it used to be very, very pejorative. These are the
liberals the erogans but now everyone must be erdogan even DAP or
keadilan people.
Why was the IRC seen as a threat to PAS? ‘It is more
conspiratorial. They think that “WE” are going to take the party from
them and so on.
On his own position and role in the IRC: ‘I was among the
leaders in the early period of 1970’s. Then I came back and forth.
Between 1989 to 1993 I was the leader of the IRC in the UK because
Zaid and the others were back in Malaysia.
Fuziah Salleh mentioned that the women would have a
different access to knowledge than you. What’s your view on this?
I may and may not agree with that. You have to replace it in the context
prevailing political background. Yes maybe we were in a way coming
from a background of Pakistans Jama’at-e Islami and the Egyptian
Ikhwans type of segregation. That was the idealism of any student
Islamic movement at that time. Yes I must say she is right. She is the
leader that broke all those wall and put in place policies that are
empowering for the sisters. So yes I think we experienced that
transformation to something more equitable empowerment and tasking
responsibilities for women.
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When you left what were the changes when IRC transformed
to MSM? ‘MSM was/is more open and was registered at the Malaysian
students department. Our movement (IRC) was more clandestine and
underground even if we were also having quite open program and
engage others as well. But in term of structure people didn’t really
know IRC. We would have a spokesperson, I was one of them and
we’ll go to public meetings.
What about people outside of IRC where they aware of its
existence? ‘No. We were a university-based movement. We were not
attempted to have a mass appeal. But we were small and never tried to
have something else. We wanted to help PAS and ABIM. That’s how
the idea of IRC as ‘infiltrators’ came about. We were very well trained
and had an strong presence. Like when Mustafa Abdul Kader straight
up went to PAS very quickly.
He gave up politics right? ‘I don’t want to talk about him; I
don’t want to be quoted.
How many former IRC or JIM leading members you have?
There are a few…You can say that this is our legation. Our claim of
being well trained to me should be judged by our actions. The time is
now to prove ourselves. That why I always challenge my colleagues in
JIM. If truly you want to have a bigger role there is limitation in JIM
you have to go to politics. It is what I did. JIM must assume its role as
an NGO. But whoever feels that they need more political engagement
they must graduate from the world of NGO activism and come to
help us.
What is the relationship today between JIM and PAS? It is
a good relationship. JIM supports PAS. Occasionally they come and
have sessions with the president. Intentionally, I don’t take a part of
it. So some of us are in the central committee of PAS, like Mujhadid
Rawa. He is the son of the former president of PAS – Ustaz Yusof
Rawa – who was the ambassador of Malaysia in Iran. He is now an Mp
in the state of Perak.
IV. Interview with Dr. Hatta Sharom, 19th March 2009
On the formation of IRC in Egypt : ‘I was a leader among
Malaysian students who were studying in Egypt. Our group was named
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the “Kumpulan Medic” (Medical Group) but it wasn’t registered. Our
aim was to merge Islam and medicine, revise our Islamic knowledge
and go further with it. We were pretty much influenced by the Jama’at-
e Islami of Pakistan and Ikhwan’ul Muslimin as we were based at the
University of Cairo. We followed the speeches and talks organized by
Ikhwan. But that was complicated for security reasons. To me the
Ikhwan was a rational, holistic movement, contemporary and relevant
to the context we were in.
I had the soul of the seeker I wanted to learn more and more
about Islam. I joined a Sufi movement, but that was not enough. I was
a part of Tariqah Ahmadiyyah Idrissiyyah Shadhaliyyah. Al Bana started
as a Sufi in Tariqah al Hasafiyyah. The spiritual core of the Ikhwan is
from al-Bana as shown in Al Ma’thurat. He was himself a sufi so there
is no contradiction here. But the Jama’at-e Islami doesn’t have that
approach. To me Sufism was a truth without a name but now Sufism is
a name without truth.
I wanted to reinforce my knowledge and go into depth.
I married in 1975, in Egypt and had my first son in 1979. I have
6 kids. I graduated in 1981. My wife actually graduated from the same
school before me.
I first met the IRC people in January 1977. Then I met Saari
(Sungip) and Zaid in 1982. But before that I had heard their names
and they knew about us (the Egypt group) as Islamist activists. We
actually had exchanges with them in 1979-1980 when a group of people
from IRC came to Egypt. I remember two of them: Ustaz Megal Mohd
Amin and Abdul Muhaimin (we called him Kebab brain back then).
When we were back in Malaysia, in the 80’s, we made an attempt
to go with PAS and ABIM. I was following ABIM’s usrah. The Egyptian
trained group had no real name, so we were considered as IRC, as we
had the same intellectual training but in a different place from the UK.
I was the President of JIM from 1999 to 2003, right after reformasi.
I was vice president since the first day of our creation. Before becoming
JIM president I was the President of IMAM (Islamic Medical
Association of Malaysia). Nowadays I’m not really active in JIM
anymore, but I’ll remain a life member. My wife and daughter are active
in JIM. I’m now very busy with the medical college and involved in a
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lot of relief mission as a doctor, I just came back from a short trip to
Palestine with MERCY Malaysia. I write a lot of books as well.
From 1999 until 2003 we had tough years in JIM as consequences
of the reformasi experience. It was very challenging. We never changed
our position, and our motto was JUSTICE. We had to fight to get
people out and ISA was our big target. Fuziah and Saari had a personal
inclination to politics so they entered in political parties right after
reformasi. (Saari was arrested twice under ISA from 2001 to 2003 and
in 1998)
JIM members would rather support Keadilan or PAS. A minority
of them are UMNO members; but on a national and state scale none
of the leaders are JIM members.
The funny thing is that when I was JIM president I was still a
civil servant, as university teacher, and still been promoted 3 times.
That was an exception though because other JIM members had been
sacked because of their involvement.
I brought the academic touch to JIM. Saari, he was the freedom
fighter, so I was the academic. I always tried to remain unpartisan and
reminded the people to be extra critical. But coming after Saari was
tough; he was the hero.
During the reformasi time all our families were involved. The
whole country was there. It had never happened since the riots of
1969. But the energy of reformasi declined by the time Anwar was out
(of prison). Reformasi has been a success but it couldn’t sustain by
V. Interview with Fuziah Salleh, 19th March 2009
Hajjah Fuziah Salleh was born on the 13th July, 1959 in the
state of Johor, but she grew up in Pahang, where she received her early
and secondary education in Kuantan, before furthering her studies in
the United Kingdom after her form five MCE results was announced
to pursue her A Levels’ at St. Anne’s. She graduated in Counselling
Psychology from University of Reading, United Kingdom and later
completed her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from
University of Wales, United Kingdom. During her student years she
was actively involved in NGOs in the UK, where she headed a youth
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organisation - The Young Muslims UK, (1988-1992) – whose members
are youths of different races in UK. On returning to Malaysia, she
channeled her contributions in an NGO, Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
as head of women’s wing (1993-1999). She was also member of the
Supreme Council NCWO in the year 1995-1997.Among her
contributions was to initiate work on a shelter home for young girls,
Raudhatus Sakinah, which until today has operated into its seventh
year. Fuziah Salleh held the post of National Women Chief of Party
Keadilan Rakyat (KeADILan) for two terms, ending last May, 2007.
She is now the Head of training, Deputy Director of the National
Election Bureau of KeADILan and member of the party MPT (Highest
Leadership Council).
On her early involvement in IRC : ‘I came back from the UK
in 1993 after 12 years. IRC was the platform for us in England then in
Malaysia, then JIM was created and I joined in 1993 and was appointed
as the leader of JIM’s women wing. Then I amended the constitution
and organized election; I was then elected as women chief.
I arrived in the UK in 1976, when I was 17 and I joined the IRC
in 1979. Zaid K’s first wife approached me and invited me to join the
movement. The IRC was a very critical intellectual platform and it
suited my profile. From 1988 to 1993, I went back and forth from
Malaysia to UK and I joined the Young Muslims association. They
actually co-opted me to strengthen the women wing.
I was based in the south of the UK, Zaid K and the others were
in Birmingham. But we would organize IRC summer and winter camps
and meet quite often.
We felt under the influence of the Ikhwan and the Jama’at-e
Islami. As women we had the same intellectual training but a different
access to scholars or discussion. We would have special sessions. So
when the guys would have three days with particular scholars we would
have 30 minutes.
When I came back to Malaysia I was the second women in chief
in JIM but I was the first one to go on stage. I changed the way of
interaction between men and women within the organization and the
image of a fundamentalist contemporary Muslim women.
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In the early 80’s I had a statement adopted by IRC to restore the
women status within IRC for more equality. Men and women are
naturally different, we both have our role in society but we, women
shouldn’t remain at the second place. I worked on bringing a Malaysian
Muslim thinking. The influences we had from the Ikhwan and Jama’at
were mostly Arabic culture and it is not us, as Malaysians. I worked on
adapting the writings of Arabic’s scholars and principles to adapt it to
our cultural context. I actually had learnt a lot from Young Muslims. I
was the only Malaysian there and we interacted with young Muslims
who wanted to be British but of whom the parents were Jama’at or
Ikhwan followers/supporters.
Arabic culture is not ours, we are different. Malaysian women
always worked, drive had responsibilities within and outside the family
circles and mixed with men. I want to be fundamental but
At this time, the male within IRC were very open and accepted
the idea. We, as women, wanted to be empowered. Since I left, I think
that this idea hasn’t really progress in JIM. It could have moved forward
Now I give another look on JIM, because I m outside. The
organization is seen as elitist, intellectual and a close circle. It is quite
true in fact. In that sense I think Jim failed to reached the masses.
On JIM’s role in Reformasi: ‘As women we were a part of the
decision making process during the sack of Anwar. I was in the
executive committee.
On match-making among the members of IRC and JIM: ‘I
met my husband Dr Rozli, in Malaysia; we ‘re actually blood relatives.
But it is true that within the IRC we were doing a lot of match making
we had a kind of match making bureau and later it became official. We
wanted to find people within the same intellectual circles. So we
arranged meetings and we would chaperon the brother and sister.
Actually this kind of practice is not really Malaysian but more inherited
from Arabic culture. But it was hard for the female student to be alone
far from their family and they often wanted to met someone and get
married. As well, we didn’t have many occasion to socialize because
of this separation between male and female.
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On her role in the Keadilan party: I joined Keadilan in 99 at
the same time Saari joined PAS. I choose it because I couldn’t relate to
the way PAS treat their women; they still play a second role. But I
relate to the ideals and struggle. Moreover Keadilan was a multiracial
party and I was really attracted by this. Most of the men would go to
PAS, it is the easiest way for them. The struggle of being an Islamist
within the Keadilan party is an higher challenge to me.
There is 5 active former IRC/Jim members in Keadilan on a
leadership level; 3 of us made it through the elections and are now in
the parliament.
On the position of the shari>‘ah: ‘I believed that Islamic law can
be implemented with this actual constitution. It would be a gain for
Muslim women actually especially in the case of divorce. It could be
done just by empowering the Islamic court. But the bills are men made
and should definitely be reviewed. Like in a case of rape the victim
needs to bring 4 witness, that is ridiculous.
VI. Interview with Zaid Kamaruddin, 21st January 2009
Zaid Kamaruddin was born in Ulu Langat, near Chongkat,
Selangor and came from a religious family where his father was an
Ustaz at a religious school. He was later educated at the Malay College
of Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) in Kuala Kangsar, Perak and then sent to
further his studies in England by the Malaysian government. In Britain
he studied engineering under a Malaysian government scholarship that
was offered to young Malay students under the New Economic Policy
On his early impressions of life in England: ‘The biggest
shock was the freedom we suddenly had: freedom to do anything, no
cultural norms; as a result you sort of get the sense of your identity;
you miss it because you can’t really identify with the society around
you. We were not rejected or discriminated, but you’re just not at
home. A quest for an identity that defines who you are. In Malaysia,
you feel quite controlled; there are rules and regulations, cultural norms.
You know how to behave. Then the big question comes to you: about
the meaning of life.
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Being with the Muslims was a natural move. We were a group of
Malays. The contact with Muslims from other part of the world was
very enriching, you fit in. At the time there were not very many local
Muslims. Creation of a local Islamic society at the Brighton polytechnic
college and University of Sussex. We met every Friday for prayers and
talks. That is when you confront your understanding of Islam. Our
understanding of Islam in Malaysia was general but we don’t really ask
the fundamental questions. But we mix with other Muslims; we were
exposed to different school of thought and crystallize your practice
and your knowledge of Islam. We basically learned Islam in the West.
The West was a platform to understand the meaning of Islam.
We came into contact first with members from Jama’at-e Islami.
The early books we red were from Maudoodi, Sayyid Qutb, Hassan al-
Bana, etc.) The contact with the Ikhwan came later. To us they were
just Arab brothers; we didn’t really identify them in another sense. In
the early stage we didn’t feel very impressed by them; they were arguing
all the time. We Malaysians are less hot blooded or agitated than them.
They can be quite nasty. We were keener to the nature of people from
Turkey or Sudan.
We had our own study circle, international within this Islamic
society. Every year we would have a certain curriculum to study and
to talk about and readings. It is like any other student organization
with yearly elections, yearly reports, etc. It is officially registered and
there is an elected leader.
The Ikhwan members in the UK were people who escaped from
prosecution in the Middle East. It was not a formal or official group in
the UK then.
I stayed in the UK for nine years. I was very much involved in
student activities among the Malaysians. By 1975 we started to organise
the Islamic movement among the Malaysians students. By that time
we had many groups of Malaysian students all over the UK. The IRC
(Islamic representative council) was supposed to be a sort of federation,
o the membership (Islamic representative from everywhere in the UK).
It was started as an alternative to various local Islamic circles. We
were really active. We felt that we must be organized in a Jama’at to
ensure that we really keep ourselves and our mission of Islamic
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understanding. We have our mission in Islam. And that should carry us
to meet the challenge of life. We would by then know that it is very
important to understand Islam as a part of a community not just
We still continue to interact with other groups but among the
Malaysian Muslims we had then our own platform we were the most
organized and numerous group at the time. We were a part of the
FOSIS, Federation of Students Islamic Societies. We contribute a lot
to the local organizations. That would be the federation, the umbrella
organization of all the student Islamic societies organized between
1965 to 1968. The MSS (Muslim Student Society) was made up of
Arabic speakers. Now they have changed the name of IRC to Majlis
Shura Muslimin (MSM).
In the IRC there are other things we put a particular stress on
like understanding the West, the meaning of life according to the western
philosophy etc. We met the liberals, the socialist, the communists, the
capitalist, etc. Among the Malaysian group the dominant direction
was the socialist point of view but there were many supporters of the
government at the time but they didn’t really know what the
government’s ideology was then. The debate was on the basis of
philosophy and we didn’t fight. We would listen to everyone. Same
today we continue to engage everyone, every NGO in Malaysia.
I came back in Malaysia in 1982, same as Saari (Sungip). The
IRC members started to came back in 1968. We found that there was
a vibrant Islamic movement in Malaysia thanks to Anwar Ibrahim.
Because of our experience in forming the IRC as an attempt to unified
the movement we decided not to form another movement. That was
our understanding from the Quran: unity. So we didn’t form another
group in Malaysia but supported ABIM until 1990. When we emerged
in 1990 there was a big gap between what we were in the UK and
when we emerged again as the same group. You can trace the leaders
from this student association’s days till now. The positive aspect is
that we were well prepared when we emerged as JIM. We played our
role to understand the Islamic teachings. Same modus operandi as in
England usrah groups. Usrah is a common methodology propagated by
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From the very beginning we had certain differences with ABIM.
We have totally shed the concern for ethnicity, and we don’t carry
that, that sense of belonging to a race but that’s not defining us. We
were Muslims first. So we don’t talk about the supremacy of the Malays.
But ABIM does use that sort of language. But we still didn’t want to
make a big deal and form another group. Anwar came in the government
then we start to wonder what we should do. He join UMNO in March
1982, we were against that not only the IRC but even some ABIM
leaders. ABIM would lost is status as a leading Islamic NGO. The
Muslim civil society then was led by ABIM. So we raised our opposition
to ABIM and UMNO and Anwar Ibrahim. The result is that ABIM
lost its status.
Before that some changes occurred in PAS as well. A group of
new PAS leaders was coming from ABIM. Among them they were
some people from IRC.
In march 1982, when Anwar joined UMNO with the
endorsement of ABIM. The leadership of the Islamic group was taken
up by PAS at the end of the year. At this time Dato Muhammad Asri
was replaced by Haji Yussuf Rawa. ABIM was the main Islamic group
in Malaysia. Before those guys were active in ABIM long before Anwar
was sent to UMNO they activate themselves in PAS including Ustaz
Hadi Awang (he was leader of ABIM in Trengganu from a while). PAS
was then trying to attract members from ABIM who should be naturally
close to PAS. But many of the members would be sent as well to
UMNO. The results are that you find ABIM’s member everywhere. At
the end of 1982, the Islamic party was led by many figures with an
Islamic movement background like Fadzil Noor in Egypt, Ustaz Norani
as well, many ustaz from medina or Egypt. In 1987, the leadership of
the Islamic movement changed from ABIM to PAS. At the same time
we thought that political party wasn’t the best platform to carry the
Islamic message. So we decided to send some of our members to PAS.
We put a very high stress on tarbiyyah (education). But in the political
party the activism is more about check and balance or confrontational.
So we cooperated very well until 86 the general election, we help PAS.
We supported the campaign. We were using computers; that was
impressive! Printing materials etc.
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The newspapers began to say that IRC was controlling PAS. The
organization was still informal and not registered. People were feeling
under threat. But it wasn’t within PAS at first, the issue was raise in
the media, used by UMNO. The PAS already had started to boycott
the newspapers but the government was under alarm. Only very few
people from IRC were active in PAS so it was not supposed to cause
an alarm. One of our members in charge with education in PAS, was
requested by Ustaz Hadi, to help him. At some point they wanted to
put him as number one: Mustafa Abdul Kader but we refused. We
didn’t want trouble. He is no longer in PAS. He was at the time the
second in command of Pemuda PAS. When the leader of PAS’s Youth
wing left, Mustafa Ali wanted to take Mustafa Kader as the next leader
of PAS’s Youth wing. But we sent a delegation of IRC members to say
no, it would have created problems. Between the general election and
the internal elections within PAS is when the IRC issue raised.
(Another group was influenced by the Iranian revolution; there
is an issue about Shias as well.) The influence of the Iranian revolution
has always been there; from the methodology to the identification of a
political success and the theology. It remained an issue within Pas for
a while until PAS finally made a statement on the matter) When it
comes to the election within the party this issue came out. To be with
or against the IRC? And so on… So we didn’t want him to be the
leader. We just didn’t want such a stress and remain united.
Since then we started to discuss the idea to form our own group.
But the issue never really disappeared. We never requested anything
from any side;
Today we are fully independent. Our organisation is unique is
the sense that we are very universal. We have members in UMNO but
mainly in PAS and Keadilan. They are PAS numbers who join us as
well while remaining in PAS.
In short, Islam defines our position to God and to the universe
and our mission is to bring mercy to the whole of universe. The best
system is the Islamic or shari>‘ah system. We believe in the creation and
that God knows provided us with the manual Quran as well as the
messengers to enlighten us. Every ethnic groups got send a messenger.
The implementation of Islam should be on individual and global levels.
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We are no longer in harmony with nature the global warming is a proof.
We’re not a threat other community should say that Muslims are coming
together and we’ll be safe within their rules. The Muslims by nature
are ready to power share and tolerant.
VII. Interview with Zaid Kamaruddin, 30th January 2009
On the membership of JIM (since 2006) and their profile:
‘There have been no major changes, and the profile (of the membership)
is roughly the same within the past few years, around one thousand
members. The profile remains mainly young educated middle class.
We do not claim that we are apolitical. We have a political stand
and can support one or the other. We are not really committed to any
particular party as such. But we work from time to time with the
The opposition is not strong and is not on the verge of taking
over. So we have to work with the ruling party. Our basic motive is to
have a credible opposition and be strong enough to offer an alternative.
We have different opinion from the opposition we’re pro-Islam
and pro-shari>‘ah; but we can agree on other issues like abuse and
corruption. We participated in the early discussions that led to the
formation of Anwar’s party. So we are involved in a way with the
justice party because many of our members are in this party. But we
are also critical (of Keadilan) because we want a strong opposition,
and there needs to be an opposition coalition.
The government is very weak and there are a lot of problems
inside. The result of the last elections (in March 2008), reveals the
weakness of this government. But this opposition isnt strong either.
The parties (of the Pakatan Rakyat) are opposed and there is no central
leadership. The idea was to have a political pact and they might have
been themselves surprised by the results (of the March 2008 elections)
they were not expecting to get so many states. They don’t have cohesion.
If they take power they will fail. But the goodwill of the people is
there. The problem is that PAS speak out in public the issue of Hudud
and alcohol; they should have a common stand on it. We tell them
that they have to move their party to the center and rise up, have the
psyche of leaders.
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We have around ten people from JIM who are leaders in those
parties and more members. They might activate themselves as party
activists. But once they re in a party they don’t take orders from us
anymore. JIM’s main activity today is actually not political but we focus
more on welfare and civil society. We are more famous for those things.
We hope to be a mediator. If you work in political platform so we have
our enemies but it is more ideological than anything else.
Influence of JIM on politics: ‘We are not the main reason for
the positive changes we see in Malaysia today, but we participated.
The change hasn’t been concluded satisfactorily according to our own
On his role as JIM president since the end of 2003: ‘The
term is every two years but renewable. As President of JIM I get a
small allowance but I need other support coming from members and I
manage to support my family.
Guidance for new converts to Islam and Dakwah (missionary
work): ‘Some of our members are involved in to counseling for
apostates. But it is not through JIM. As far as our missionary work is
concerned (the East Malaysian states of) Sabah and Sarawak are
different from the peninsula in terms of the composition of the
population. Conversion work there has done by JIM .
The aim of missionary work is not really to get more numbers.
The consensus of accepting the nature of the religion is more important,
but we don’t need a Muslim majority to establish an Islamic state. Well
if they are many Muslims it is better. It is useful for politics but it is not
a guarantee.
VIII. Excerpt from the speech by Zaid Kamaruddin, President
of JIM, 2008
JIM and the Pakatan Rakyat: Jim takes the stand that the
system of check and balances is very important for the governance of
Malaysia today. This role of strengthening and balancing can only be
efficient if there is a political opposition and NGO’s within civil society,
which have authority. In this respect, Jim sees the creation of Pakatan
Rakyat (the coalition of people) as a positive development. It would
strengthen a meaningful change in politics and governance.
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Power sharing has been proven in history. Malaysia is an example
of such power sharing over half a century. It is also the approach taken
to solve the political crisis that occurred in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Until now, Malaysia has practiced a model of power sharing based on
communities. Pakatan Rakyat is a different model of power sharing
between parties of different ideologies. This is a coalition between a
social democratic leftist party, an islamist party and a pragmatic party
that cannot be ideologically categorized. [satu parti pragmatik yang tidak boleh
dikategorikan ideology politiknya]. This is a coalition that will find it more
difficult to succeed.
Despite that there are enough similarities that when mixed
together can served as the basis for good governance. Each party may
have a different raison d’être and discourses though it is still relatively
easy for them to have a general consensus on issues like justice, good
administration, openness, zero tolerance towards corruption, expanding
public involvement in decision making, fundamental rights, widening
freedom (of speech, information, political organization, media and
religion), equal division of wealth, eradication of poverty, protection
of social welfare and others.
For JIM, the Pakatan Rakyat can succeed if it is built on a clear
basis and sincere efforts. The following things are quite necessary:
- The formation of an executive leadership assembly for the Pakatan
- An agreement to formally institutionalizes the Pakatan Rakyat to
at least to outline and specify the objectives and the decision making
process of the coalition
- The basis of governance for the Pakatan Rakyat states governance:
to outline a common basis on issues such as the questioning of/
challenge to the Islamic state, the status of Islam and the Malays.
It is important for the leadership of Pakatan to act as one entity.
The public wants to see a united leadership with one voice and not
plural voices from three corners that are sometimes harmonious and
sometimes not. It is therefore important that the Pakatan Rakyat is
formally institutionalized.
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Rashid, Ahmed, Jihad: The rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, New
Haven: Yale University Pres1s, 2002.
... While a handful of Amanah leaders, including party President Mohamad Sabu and Deputy President Salahuddin Ayub, were veteran PAS activists, others were post-Reformasi converts to the PAS cause. A significant number of them, such as Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, and Dr Hatta Ramli, trace their Islamist genealogy to the NGO Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram, Ikram Association of Malaysia), whose precursors were Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM, Society for Islamic Reform) and the covert Islamic Representative Council (IRC) (Lemière 2009;Maszlee 2018). To this crop of activists, virtually all of whom profess fealty to the ideals of past reformist PAS leaders such as Yusof Rawa, Fadzil Noor, and Nik Aziz Nik Mat, and who propounded the ethnically inclusive 'PAS for All' motto during their PAS days, Islam, operationalized and implemented via a maqasidic approach, emphasizes mercy for all humankind. ...
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Pathways to Contemporary Islam: New Trends in Critical Engagement highlights that the current tensions in Islam and the Muslim world are the result of historical dynamics as opposed to an alleged incompatibility between religious tradition and modernity. The emphasis on pathways indicates that critical engagement and contestation have always been intrinsic to the history of Islam. The aim of the book is to elaborate the contemporary pathways and analyse the trends that contest the Islamic intellectual tradition, the relationship between religion and politics, and the individual and collective practice of religion. The collection of essays analyses the current efforts of critical re-engagement with the Islamic intellectual tradition and underlines the historical diversity of Islamic orthodoxies that led to the establishment of various pathways in the practice and role of religion in Muslim societies.
Full-text available
Pathways to Contemporary Islam: New Trends in Critical Engagement highlights that the current tensions in Islam and the Muslim world are the result of historical dynamics as opposed to an alleged incompatibility between religious tradition and modernity. The emphasis on pathways indicates that critical engagement and contestation have always been intrinsic to the history of Islam. The aim of the book is to elaborate the contemporary pathways and analyse the trends that contest the Islamic intellectual tradition, the relationship between religion and politics, and the individual and collective practice of religion. The collection of essays analyses the current efforts of critical re-engagement with the Islamic intellectual tradition and underlines the historical diversity of Islamic orthodoxies that led to the establishment of various pathways in the practice and role of religion in Muslim societies.
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In Malaysia women exercise authority as they combine professional expertise with Islamic knowledge to engage with contentious religious debates. In the context of transformations caused by mass education and mass mediatization, professional experts without Islamic (seminary) education—such as doctors, lawyers, and psychologists—can successfully claim religious authority and establish themselves as part of the Islamic public sphere. This creates possibilities for women. Contemporary cultures of professionalism enable them to challenge long-standing configurations of religious authority, including the perception that this authority is (primarily or necessarily) male. Their performances, although not without constraints, require an analysis that moves anthropological debates about women's roles and autonomies beyond a Foucauldian concern with discourse and the modes of (self-)disciplining and resistance associated with it. [religious authority, professionalism, expertise, women, gender, Islam, Malaysia]. © 2019 The Authors American Ethnologist published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Anthropological Association
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The term Salafism refers to an interpretation of Islam that seeks to restore Islamic faith and practice to the way they existed at the time of Prophet Muhammad and the early generations of his followers. Since this early period represented the golden age of Islam in its pure form, Salafis believe it should be the example followed by all Muslims today. Salafism as a trend and theological movement has been a point of interest to many researchers due to the current global political escalation. It has been a focal point of issues related to global terrorism, radicalism, post-Arab Spring politics, religious trends as well as theological debates. Salafism, more often known as Wahabism, has come to Malaysia at different times and with different motivations. The early brand of Salafism in pre-Malaysia Tanah Melayu, or Malaya, was the emergence of the early 20th century reformist Salafi movement, known as Kaum Muda, inspired by the Middle Eastern Abduh-Afghani Pan Islamism. Despite the differences between that and the current global Salafism they share the same roots. Additionally, according to numerous historical accounts, the current Salafi trend in Malaysia is closely related to the global Islamic revivalism of the 1970s and 1980s, and was also affected by the return of Malaysian students studying abroad during the 1990s and early 2000s. Evidence has shown that the emergence of Salafism in Malaysia has contributed directly and indirectly to the mainstream discourse of Islamic theology and Islamic worldview amongst Malaysian Muslims in general, and Islamic organizations in particular. This paper employs a historical approach in explaining the emergence of Salafism in Malaysia and offers a critical examination of certain historical events that led to the existence of the different trends and groupings of Salafism in Malaysia and its implications for Islamic discourse in the country.
Arab Muslim youth are presumed to be at risk of exposure to religious extremism via participation in faith-based organizations. This field study conducted within a large youth-run social service association in Egypt challenges that trajectory. Instead, it explores the role of religion in creating contemporary ethical subjects who seek meaning-production through volunteering to help the disadvantaged. The same dispositions which lead young Muslim youth to volunteer also propelled them to Tahrir and participation in the mass political uprising of 2011. The relationship among politics, faith, and public participation is elaborated through qualitative interviews conducted over a 7-year period in Cairo.
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The 2008 Malaysian general election marked a new beginning for Malaysian politics. The opposition parties' strong showing may lead to an end to the political career of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. The election results will also have a significant impact on the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS).
The Method to Re-Establish the Khilafah and Resume the Islamic Way of Life
  • Hizb Ut-Tahrir Britain
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, The Method to Re-Establish the Khilafah and Resume the Islamic Way of Life, London: Al-Khilafah Publications, 2000. Accessed on 2 May 2009. http://www.g suratpembaca05.htm, accessed on 30 December 2007.
Hukum Islam DiWajibkan Untuk Semua
" Hukum Islam DiWajibkan Untuk Semua ", Sautun Nahdah, No.156, 11 January 2008.
The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jamaati-Islami of Pakistan
  • Sayyid Reza Nasr
  • Vali
Nasr, Sayyid Reza Vali, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jamaati-Islami of Pakistan, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Osman, Mohamed Nawab Mohamed, "PAS: From Islamism to Post-Islamism", Jakarta Post, 17 Mar 2008. --, "Reviving the Caliphate in Malaysia", Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (June 2009, forthcoming).
Pandangan Hizbut Tahrir Mengenai Pilihanraya
"Pandangan Hizbut Tahrir Mengenai Pilihanraya", Sautun Nahdah, No. 164, 7 February 2008.
Demi Undi Agama Allah Ditukar Sesuka Hati
  • Zeyno Baran
  • Hizb Ut-Tahrir
Baran, Zeyno, Hizb ut-Tahrir: Islam's Political Insurgency, Washington: Nixon Center Monograph, December 2004. "Demi Undi Agama Allah Ditukar Sesuka Hati", Sautun Nahdah, No. 181, 12 May 2009.
  • Hukum Islam Diwajibkan Untuk
  • Semua
Hukum Islam DiWajibkan Untuk Semua", Sautun Nahdah, No.156, 11 January 2008.