History has repeatedly shown us the danger posed by power hungry clerics when they have the opportunity to occupy positions of power in politics This opportunity is often used to confuse the people with regards to truth and falsehood. With this confusion, it becomes easy for them to infuse their influence in the minds and hearts of the people. A Muslim who is guided by the Quran know the warning alerted by God as follows in surah At-Taubah:
“O you who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in falsehood devour the wealth of people and hinder (them) from the way of God. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God: announce unto them a most grievous penalty” (Quran: 9:34)
Such power hungry clerics not only cheat people of their wealth but also hinder them from God’s way. They will try to mobilize the people to support them with wealth and life so that they can achieve their selfish desires. Their methods of deviating the people away from the path of God are subtle. They will not openly oppose the truth but will project themselves as the ‘light of truth’. They will position themselves such that any acceptance of their view equals acceptance of God and any opposition to their views will be construed as opposition to God. Muslims who adhere strictly to the Quran will not be duped by this psychological trap as they are fully aware of the following verse in the surah az-Zumar:
“Is it not to God that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than God (say): "We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to God." Truly God will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But God guides not such as are false and ungrateful”. (Quran 39:3)
Every injunction and prohibition of these power-hungry clerics will be presented to the people as a ‘fatawa’ that is compulsory to be followed in order to be near God. As is clear from God’s commandment in surah Az-Zumar above, the people will mistakenly think that this is the way to be close to God and Islam. When people surrender their thinking and blindly follow the injunctions and prohibitions as determined by the power hungry clerics blindly, the clerics are worshipped and God is set aside. Power hungry clerics also represent themselves as the ultimate interpreter of the Quran and hence they often arrogantly lie to the people that the Quran is difficult to understand.
Their character and attitude is completely different from the great scholars such as Imam Ghazali, Imam Hanbali, Shafie, and Maliki. Such scholars encourage and invite people to think about the teachings of Allah and His messenger without causing any deliberate enmity. Only a true scholar or cleric will abide by the teachings of Allah as follows:
"Call them to the path of your Lord through wisdom and good advice and argue with them in the best manner. God knows well about those who stray from His path and those who seek guidance". (Quran 16:125)
On the other hand, power hungry clerics will find ways to maintain themselves as the absolute experts and ultimate source of injunctions or hukm regarding a person’s belief structure.
As such, they do not hesitate to label their political enemies and those who wish to adhere to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger as infidels or apostates. If such clerics attain total power, they will not hesitate to kill these people with the mistaken belief that this will also bury God’s teachings.
They mutate into theological dictators. They will not only be intolerant of differing views from their own clan, but will be unable to coexist with others from a different clan. Any political marriage that they forge is for pure political expediency and will not last. They will only learn and agree with any religious views or knowledge that suits their purpose. They will dress and speak in ways that are popularly viewed as Islam so that their true colours will be well hidden from the public eye. To this group, the religious symbols are more important than the substance and spirit of Allah’s teachings.
Their speeches will be spiced up with names of respected Islamic scholars. It will also be sprinkled with long Arabic phrases even though they are fully aware that the audience only understands Malay or English. Their purpose is to mesmerize, influence, confuse and not to invite the audience to the way of Allah. Such techniques are sophisticated and subtle as they have succeeded in distancing many from people from God’s way by manipulating the name of “Islam and Allah”. However, such techniques are not new as Allah ahs forewarned us of this in the following verse:
“There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from God," but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it! (Quran: 3:78)
If we were to ponder over the civil war in Afghanistan, not a single “Islamic country” was able to bring them towards peace. In 2001, the “Islamic government of” Afghanistan’s representative in Kuala Lumpur said that the Talibans are mad extremists who are inclined towards violence. However, the Taliban’s under the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar felt that they represented the group that wants to establish an “Islamic State”. Being intolerant to dissenting views, they killed and mutilated each other in the quest for political supremacy through violence in the name of “Islam and Allah”. The unfortunate fact is the sufferings of the ordinary, poor Afghan citizens who have deplorable living conditions. Today, many Afghan female children are sold off into slavery and prostitution. Many also do not know that Afghanistan used to be a major supplier of heroin to the world.
Is Afghanistan an “Islamic State” or a failed State of Muslims? It will not be incorrect to say that the Afghan clerics not only failed to create peace in Afghanistan but are equally responsible for the violence and sufferings of the Afghan people. This certainly cannot be a situation condoned by Islam. Those who wish may take heed from the following verse:
“The Evil one threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseemly. God promises you His forgiveness and bounties. And God cares for all and He knows all things” (Quran: 2:268)
Hence, it is impossible that poverty, violence, sufferings, oppression, enmity and destruction of property are teachings of Allah and His Messenger. We should learn from the signs that are shown by God.
Malaysians will face untold regret if we continue with the attitude of suppressing our thoughts when faced with “religious issues and matters”. Religious ignorance is fertile ground for the birth of extremism and violence in the name of religion. When the mind is devoid of knowledge, it is easy for the power hungry clerics to fan emotions, and sentiments to achieve their evil ambitions. Families, neighbours, and friends will be persuaded to become enemies of each other such that a civil war may ensue. Let us not think that this will never happen as the signs show that they are not only possible but families have been made into enemies purely on “religious grounds”.
We should be cautious of the monopoly of religion by the power hungry clerics if we want to maintain the peace and the practice of humanitarian values as taught by Allah. The young became easy targets of influence by these power hungry clerics. This is the reason why the young are often the wall and the soldiers in any militant group and the old play the role of teachers who control.
The ultimate objective of power hungry clerics is to exert total control over the people be dictatorial like the Pharaoh. Any objection or dissent will be misrepresented as objections to the teachings of Allah and one will have to face fatal repercussions. Will this group of power hungry clerics allow us to ask them the following question?
“Or have you Covenants with Us to oath, reaching to the Day of Judgment, (providing) that you shall have whatever ye shall demand (say)? Ask you of them, which of them will stand surety (guarantee) for that! (Quran: 68:39 - 40)