Forming the Right Political Stance
In the midst of speculation on election dates ranging from February, March, June and the latest being September 2012, politics is the talk of the town in this country. Many have made up their minds on which political party or leaders to choose, but quite a significant number of fellow Malaysian voters have yet to decide. These fence-sitters’ choices are neither party A nor B as they closely watch and assess the ongoing developments in Malaysian politics. Their political stance remains unclear and there is definite possibility that there are some who would declare their support only in the final hours of the election campaign period.
To make a decision on something as huge as to which box to cross on the ballot paper, we need to make full use of our all-encompassing outlook on life; that is our worldview. This is indeed an important point to note for it is our worldview that sets the design for the ideological framework to form a political stand.
Worldviews are pivotal as the right worldview will enable us to deliberate things deeply on what constitutes truth and reality about the complexities of the ongoing surrounding us. From thereon, our minds are tuned to properly develop a correct reasoning process. In this cognitive activity; we listen to arguments, we process a mass of information in order to form a specific opinion. To emphasize, worldview’s role is exactly the same as what John Stuart Mill deliberate on assumed premises and Joseph Schumpeter’s position on vision.
In Islamic worldview, the framework of maqasid al-shariah (the intentions of the shariah) should be the best guidance in forming any political stance. Muslim scholars have largely agreed that the broad objectives of maqasid al-shariah or the higher intents of shariah are to promote the overall welfare of mankind and prevention of harm and evil.
Citing Jasser Auda’s systems approach in discussing maqasid al-shariah, included in this framework is not just the preservation of religion, life, mind, offspring and wealth but also the promotion of the five main elements as well. The principle of maqasid should be the ultimate guidance in whatever understanding that a Muslim has and this include in making political decisions. If his or her attitude, behaviour and actions are set according to this rule, the conscience will certainly be as clear as it can be.
Unfortunately, partisan politics in Malaysia is heavily influenced by sentiments and emotions that naturally have a great tendency to supersede rationality and common sense. Thus, as concerned Malaysians, we must realize that though we are attached to a specific political party, we need to really understand the foundations and ideology that form the basis of the party. These elements shape our view and consequently, our political stance will remain resilient as long as the ideology continues to be the backbone of the party’s agenda.
Problems arise when ideology no longer dictates the party’s direction and when there is lack of wisdom among political leaders. Instead, individual interests override the interests of the masses which then lead to the creation of false leaders, once cautioned by Syed Muhammad Al-Naquib Al-Attas in his book Islam and Secularism. According to him, these false leaders are leaders who have lost an integral part of wisdom and justice which he famously themed as the loss of adab towards knowledge, intellectualism and civilizations.
Again, it is necessary to note that when a stand taken is based on emotional attachment instead of reason, our actions tend to be more irrational. The implication is that we will not be able to see our political opponents objectively. Whatever is said or done by the other party will be dismissed as being incoherent, inconsistent and incomprehensive. Operating in this manner, society is unconsciously condoning the breeding of demagogues who scheme their political survival through emotional manipulation. The minds of those who are charmed by these leaders are preset to a pattern where they criticise others only for the sake of criticising even when your rivals are actually saying the truth on the issue at hand.
The sad thing is; when truth is sacrificed, justice is jeopardized. Malaysian politics has yet to reach the level of maturity where both sides of the political divide can actually agree on crucial issues affecting the nation. Instead, what we have been witnessing in the local politics are political rivalries filled with counterproductive approach of character assassination as the celebrated mean to triumph over one’s nemesis.
Constructive comments and analysis must pave the discussions among politicians. Political leaders would have to realize that the welfare of the people takes priority over their personal goals. Leaders need to be made aware that they are appointed or even driven to their positions based on their abilities to safeguard the trust or amanah given to them and carry out their responsibilities wholeheartedly.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that the paramount issue here is to have a definite worldview in making our political stance. Worldviews would facilitate our understanding in a manner that will allow us to be consistent in our thoughts and principles. As a result, we will not be easily manipulated by reckless individuals who are not true to the political struggle of their own political parties. Perhaps this short sharing of thought would shed some light to those undecided minds who are still tinkering on who to vote for the coming general election.