DIVISIVE FIGURE: Old issue or not, what Hadi said 31 years ago is still relevant today, with far-reaching impact on Muslim society
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's controversial edict he made 31 years ago is stirring fresh political debate as the party prepares for a "do-or-die" general election early next year.
The Amanat Haji Hadi (The Message of Haji Hadi), which was based on his rally speech in Manir, Terengganu, on April 7, 1981, roiled Muslims when he declared that Umno members were not true Muslims, resulting in the divisive kafir-mengkafir (infidel) issue.
The firebrand Islamic leader was at the time seen as a potential man to lead Pas one day.
In 1984, the National Fatwa Council, however, decreed that the amanat was contrary to Islamic teachings.
Hadi has been Pas president since 2002 following the untimely death of Datuk Fadzil Noor.
Under Hadi's charge, the party was nearly wiped out when Barisan Nasional won a record victory in the 2004 general election, only to make a strong comeback in the last election.
But the ghost of Hadi's past has now returned to haunt him following the recent publication of a book entitled Kafirkah Aku? written by former hardcore Pas member Zainon Ismail, who goes by his pen name C.N. Al-Afghani.
Zainon, who was so obsessed with the struggles of Pas, left his job as a teacher to work for the party.
He even went to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Mujahidins in the late 1980s.
Besides sacrificing his career, Zainon was also said to have declared his father and brother as "non-believers" because of political differences.
Zainon, who was a member of the Kedah Pas state youth committee in the late 1990s, is a prolific writer, too. He has written some 20 books and one of his books, Air Mata di Bumi Memali, is banned for sale to Pas members over allegations of misuse of a Pas fund to aid Memali victims.
The 85-page Kafirkah Aku? provides a rare glimpse into the minds of staunch Pas supporters and how some of them became disillusioned after the party decided to discard some of its Islamic idealism in its lust for power.
Zainon wrote that Hadi's doctrine had a profound effect on staunch Pas loyalists in the 1980s and 1990s.
"Needless to say that at that time, everyone was willing to sacrifice for the sake of orang kita (whom he defined as Pas members).
"We do not consider our family members who are Umno members as one of us.
"Some were willing to disown their families. We did that not at our whims and fancies but based on the teachings of the Pas leadership."
Zainon argued that the doctrine, which has not been withdrawn by Hadi until today, had contributed to a bitter split among Muslims, especially among Pas and Umno supporters.
In the book, he asked Hadi to revoke the amanat and declare that Umno members are indeed true believers of Islam. He said a revocation would make it easier for him and other former Pas supporters to apologise to their member families, neighbours, colleagues and Umno leaders for calling them kafir.
Hadi, whom within Pas is prime minister-in-the-making, may not realise this, but his 1981 edict had a damaging impact, especially on rural Muslims.
Communities were split to the extent that mosques conducted separate communal prayers for Pas and Umno congregations.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak touched on the Amanat Hadi during his keynote address at the Umno general assembly last month.
He noted that as a result of the amanat, Umno was labelled as kafir for cooperating with non-Muslims and that it was not supportive of the Islamic state and the implementation of hudud.
The Memali incident in 1985 was also seen as a manifestation of Hadi's amanat, leading to deadly clashes between villagers in Kampung Memali in Kedah and the police.
Najib said besides the Memali tragedy, the amanat also led to the Lubok Merbau incident and the confusion over the consumption of meat slaughtered by Umno members.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and some Pas leaders, including the party's national youth information chief, Riduan Mohd Nor, have brushed off the Amanat Hadi issue as an attempt by its political opponents to recycle an old issue ahead of the election.
"As an ulama and a party leader, Datuk Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang, knows what to say, to whom and when," Riduan said.
Old issue or not, what Hadi said 31 years ago is still relevant until today, with far-reaching impact on Muslim society and the Islamic faith.
Do Pas members still believe that the Pas brand of Islam is purer than Umno's version? Apparently, there are still 11 mosques in Terengganu holding separate communal prayers for Pas and non-Pas supporters.
If Pas feels the issue is an old issue, why did the party allow a prayer congregation in Kota Baru recently to pray for the destruction of Umno and Barisan Nasional?