On What Yusof Rawa Did

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I read an article by Wan Saiful in the Star dated 9th May 2017 by the title ‘What Yusof Rawa Did to Pas‘. The article is a descriptive of how PAS turn into a party which by the virtue of ulema developed a ‘choosen by god leadership’ doctrin and how MSU (Majlis Shura Ulamak) acted as an overiding power over a democratic rules and principles.

I noted there was lack of attributive factors in the writing as to why and how such developement took place in PAS. I did my Phd in UM (2007) focusing on Conflict in Islamic Party (PAS) and the change it brought organizationally. I also gathered information on Yusof Rawa’s leadership as he was the architect of change from post Asri’s crisis and the first President and Murshidul Am of the Ulema Leadership.

The rise of the young turks in PAS coupled with the demand of more collective decision making process and called for reduction vested in the power of the Central Commitee. When the spiral of conflict began in late 70’s, it was the opportunity of the young turks to grab the situation and started a movement to oust Asri and his cronies.

The concept of Wilayatul Faqeh by the Iranian Revolution (1979) came timely with justification of Asri’s strong grip over the party and the cronysm prevailing especially in Kelantan, PAS bastion. The intention of Yusof Rawa’s leadership was not to turn PAS into an undemocratic party or god appointed leaders but to control and balance the power of Central Commitee. MSU was the balancing factor and Yusof Rawa just did that to deliver the after math of the crisis and created a trust to PAS members that the new leadership wants to balance the power and the possibilities of new leadership to misuse its authority was managed.

And so they amended the party’s constitution in 1983 creating a Majlis Shura Ulema headed by its chairman who is known as Murshidul Am ( General Guidance or Party’s Advisor). But somehow the concept was ‘hijacked’ by certain young turks leaders who wanted an ulema for all. MSU membership is exclusive for ulema as it was a council of scholars but it turned out the whole body of PAS including the excecutive central commitee became ulema for all.

Yusof Rawa was known as a moderate modern and democratic Islamic political leaders. He tendered resignation when he sensed his effort to open PAS to non Malay in CCC (Chinese Consultative Council) was rejected by his own excecutive members. He took it as a vote of no confidence to his leadership but the central commitee rejected his resignation. He was known for opening the door to non muslim and engaged in dialogues and ceramah at the premise of chinese temples to introduce PAS.

Yes there was radical element especially the East-Coast block but it was never solemized and in many of Yusof Rawa’s statement, he maintained that PAS was an Islamic political party that do not support kafir mengkafir (to labelled another muslim as kafir on the ground of supporting Umno). He was also known to embrace multi-racial realities in Malaysia.

Yusof Rawa was not responsible to radicalization of PAS but was responsible to inject new hope for the party who had gone through a rough time through the ingenius ulema’s leadership model. It was an organizational creativity which I named as the second curve to keep the organization moving forward.

Unfortunately after 30 years or so of ulema’s model, there was no effort to create a third curve in PAS, although the progressive element in PAS tried but have proven futile. Ulema leadership instead became sacred, what was intended by Yusof Rawa’s leadership as an organizational effort had become non-compromy theology and rituals in PAS.

Yusof Rawa resigned as first Murshidul Am in 1989 and confined to spending quality time with his family and loved travelling. He passed away peacefully on 28th April 2000. The AMANAH party today recognized his leadership by continuing his legacy of openess.

Dato’ Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa
Member of Malaysian Parliament
Vice President of AMANAH Party