Can non-Muslims join an Islamist party – and why would they?

June 5, 2009


By Razak Ahmad

Should non-Muslims be allowed to join an Islamist party? Would the Islamists want them to join? This is the issue facing the Pan Malaysian Islamist Party (PAS) at its annual assembly this week.

Photo: Women’s wing of PAS prays at its national convention on 3 June, 2009/Bazuki Mujammad

For decades, PAS dreamed of a rigid theocratic state, even to the extent of issuing an edict in 1987 declaring the ruling Malay-Muslim nationalist ruling party as infidel. The ethnic minority Chinese and Indians who make up a combined 35% of the Southeast Asian country’s 27 million population were rarely in the Islamist party’s political equation.

But now PAS is part of Malaysia’s three-party opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim. It claims that 20,000 non-Muslims have joined the party’s supporters club, which will be recognised as an official party wing if a proposal on the matter is endorsed. This would in turn pave the way for non-Muslim members of the supporters club to become card carrying PAS members.

The party enjoyed a surge in support among non-Muslim voters in general elections last year after a group of party reformers took control of PAS and moderated the party’s hardline image. The supporters club is an extension of the party’s attempt to broaden its voter appeal but it is more than just an outreach.

PAS’ non-Muslim engagement parallels the evolution of other Islamist parties like Indonesia’s Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) or Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AK) to expand their appeal to moderate and progressive Muslims and even non-Muslims. The old paradigm of replicating Iran’s Islamic revolution in their home countries seems to have faded away.

Nonetheless in a multicultural society such as Malaysia and neighbouring Indonesia, rifts appear inevitable. Within PAS there are questions about how far the religious leadership is prepared to go to water down the party’s founding principles.

And of course, outreach isn’t a one way process, as U.S. President Barack Obama tried to show.

Having covered PAS extensively for the past 10 years, I  can say that PAS’ shifting trajectory has been remarkable — and so, too, has been the response.

What do you think about this new face of Islamist parties? Could non-Muslims vote for them?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Of course.

Posted by Unknown | Report as abusive

Orlando City of Lights 6/6/09

I heard words of wisdom spoken by the leader of America to the Moslem world. President Barrack Hussein Obama said: “The Holy Koran teaches that whosoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whosoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.”
Then, I thought, the president is talking about religion, bravo! Then I thought again, but what about the thousands of innocent children that are aborted (killed) in the United States of America everyday? And, I remember the words of Pope Benedict XVI to the presidents of Latin America bishops’ committees for the family and for life, the Pope said: “Abortion is a crime of aggression not only against the unborn (innocent), but also against society,” 12/3/05.
Behold! The Word of the Lord came to me saying: Because you have said: “We (USA) have made a covenant with Death, and with Hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.” Isaiah 28:15
Now, the Overflowing Scourge has been passing through the land of America, since April 20th 1999, and I remember the Word of the Lord spoken in my ears in October of 1999: “To the leaders of the churches I say REPENT; for you have confused MY sheep with religious rituals; you have feed them fantasies of your own mind, and take their money offerings for Faith and prosperity that you can not deliver. You use MY NAME to work miracles; yet I don’t know you, neither do you know MY NEW NAME. I say to the people of all nations serve each other; love one another; for your government tells you: “Love your country and your flag.” But I say to you; before you love your country and your flag; love your father, mother, spouse, children, and your brothers and sisters, your neighbors, and the people of all nations. Porque la boca de JEHOVA lo a dicho asi.” And the prophet praised HIM saying “ALELUYA! AMEN! ALEUZENEV! Thank YOU for forgiving our sins.”
Later in January of 2000 the Lord said unto me: “Neither the statue of Liberty nor the government of it, and its god of paper will save you.” That was to assured the Children of The LIGHT, that FAIHT in GOD and obedience to HIS WORD; is our only SALVATION; and not the Government promises for FREEDOM and PROTECTION through the shedding of blood. HE finished saying again: “Do not be afraid of Death, because Death is among you: be afraid of not loving your neighbor because if you don’t you shall die.” And that was to remind us; that the anti-CHRIST is alive and TRIBULATION will increase throughout the World with his false teachings and lies.
Pope John Paul II spoke saying before the 2003 Iraq war: “This war would be a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified.”
Bush justifies it, and Obama morally changed the name, thus the Overflowing Scourge is passing through America, and a burning up has been determined upon the World.
Jesus disciples asked him, “Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?” Jesus said, “Do not lie, and do not do what you hate, because all things are open before Heaven; and there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed, and not in darkness where My Light shall not Shine.” Gospel of Thomas
“For God, Who commanded the Light to Shine out of darkness, Has shined in our hearts, to give the Light of the Knowledge of His Glory in the Face of Jesus Christ.” II Corinthians 4:6
To the Governments of America and the World, I repeat these words: Expanding Mercy and Love with our World neighbors, and feeding the hungry and poor is also an order from The LORD to all people; but to those that have received power, the prophet writes: “Health, Education and Feeding the Poor must be their only concern.” I Pray for You and Peace for the World, Ivor Manuel prophet.

Posted by Ivor Manuel prophet | Report as abusive