Zahid Hamidi’s Quranic pointers in politics

Zahid Hamidi’s Quranic pointers in politics

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Umno leader, former Deputy Prime Minister, Member of Parliament and defendant in many pending criminal trials, has a weekly column in Utusan Malaysia, arguably our nation’s foremost Malay daily.

In his 600 word column on Friday, 24 May 2019, he urges Umno warriors (pejuang) to pay heed to five pointers for doing politics.

Under the title “Al-Quran panduan perjuangan” (Quranic guidance for warfare), he begins by drawing a lesson from the gradual revelation – over 23 years – of the Quran.

The lesson: revealing “the whole” slowly aids understanding and execution. Therefore, don’t expect complete transparency from your leaders.

Zahid says that as a guide for warfare, of the 6,666 verses in the Koran, he’s most attracted to surah al-Ahzab verses 9-10a (he writes “9-10” but only quotes up to 10a, as I have below):

O you who have believed, remember the favour of Allah upon you when armies came to [attack] you and We sent upon them a wind and armies [of angels] you did not see. And ever is Allah, of what you do, Seeing [Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you.

The context of the verses is the war of the Trench (Khandaq) in Medina when that city, with 3,000 defenders led by Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, was attacked by 10,000 Meccans and others.

For the defence of Medina, the Prophet adopted a strategy urged by Salman, a Persian convert. A trench had to be built around the city. To assure on-time completion, the Prophet parcelled out work to squads of ten persons. Each squad was assigned a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) to dig 1.8 metres of the trench.

Note: 1. Zahid uses “hasta” as the unit of measurement. Guided by Kamus Dewan (4th edition), I’ve converted hasta into metres. 2. Zahid adds that the trench was about 4 metres wide and 3-5 metres deep.)

Additionally, the Prophet established a system of intelligence gathering (involving Az Zubair bin ‘Awwam) with direct communication to himself and also launched a propaganda initiative (involving Nu’aim bin Mas’ud) to create disunity within the enemy.

The lesson: consultation, consensus, collaboration, commitment, spying, propaganda, leadership and disruption lead to victory.

Zahid points out the divine assistance the pious defenders received: God sent strong winds and a contingent of angels to defeat the enemy.

Zahid concludes with five pointers for Umno’s warriors:
(1) Be calm and build consensus before choosing between options.
(2) Be open to new ideas, but be sure to use the right channels.
(3) Watch-out for sabotage which will result in failure to achieve KPIs.
(4) Actively conduct psychological warfare against the enemy.
(5) Make decisions based on data and intelligence, not self-glorification.

I am struck by how much Zahid’s reasoning hinges on how to identify a Muslim (“O you who have believed,” often translated “pious”).

Zahid appears to believe that only Muslims whose views are aligned with Umno are pious. Yet he says the rules of warfare require him to not disclose what those views are. Also, presumably because of the same rules, he doesn’t identify “the enemies.”

I think the lessons Zahid has drawn from the Khandaq account are valid. I think the five principles can also be derived from Sun Tzu’s Art of War. I think the five principles are good guidance for conducting warfare.

However, I think those whom we choose to rule over us should not regard us as enemies, let alone use psychological warfare against us.

I wonder what Pakatan Harapan leaders and religious leaders – whether academics, mufti, monks or priests – make of Zahid’s guidance for doing politics. What pointers do they propose?

By Rama Ramanathan

Rama Ramanathan blogs at and is the spokesperson for CAGED, Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online.

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