Written by Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin
Translation by Umm Hajar
I often call for Muslims to Islamize their politics and not politicize Islam. One may ask, what is the difference between the two? The difference is, when we strive to Islamize our politics we will ensure that our actions and our political missions do not contradict the teachings of Islam. Also, we will attempt to Islamize any un-Islamic political custom. In other words, we will use Islam as the guiding principle of our actions.
On the other hand, Islam is politicized when used as a political capital to secure power. In doing that, Islam is used not as a guiding principle but as a mere justification or ‘halal certificate’ to persuade the society or their followers to accept their actions.
Consequently, one will execute his political mission without referring it first to the teachings of Islam but when his action is questioned, he will manipulate the view or religious texts of Islam to defend himself. In short, Islamizing politics is done by designating Islam as the guiding principle whereas politicizing Islam is done by manipulating Islam in one’s favor using it as a tool or justification.
Therefore, when one assigns Islam as the foundation or guiding principle, he will willingly retract his opinion or apologize for his action if he discovers that it contradicts the teachings of Islam. As for the one who uses Islam as a justification or tool, he will make use of Islam to legalize his political action even though it is undoubtedly sinful.
He is not keen to listen to the concrete evidence or contention provided by syarak for him to apply but instead, he looks for a back-up from the religious authority that is willing to legalize his action even though he realizes that the opinion given to support him is weak and groundless. This is similar to the fanatical clusters and mazhab (school of thoughts) followers who hold on the views of their faction with no concern on strong reasoning and justifications.