14 February 2015
Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the Spiritual Leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS had been a prominent political and religious figure in Malaysia since the 1980s, and had played a pivotal role in the development of PAS as a modern Islamist party with international connections. His passing may have a profound impact on both the party he led and Malaysian politics as a whole.
The passing of Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, Murshid’ul Am or Spiritual Leader and former Chief Minister of Kelantan, marks a significant landmark in Malaysian political history. Along with Yusof Rawa, he was among the senior members of the so-called ‘Ulama faction’ that deposed Asri Muda, the president of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), in 1982 and began the internal reform of the party turning it into Malaysia’s biggest and perhaps best organised opposition party. Throughout the 1990s he was seen as the bedrock of PAS’ power among the Malay-Muslim electorate and the key factor that ensured the victory of PAS in the northeastern peninsular state of Kelantan.
Despite several attempts by the ruling coalition to woo the Kelantan electorate with proposals for development, the Kelantanese voters opted for PAS throughout the 1990s and in the elections of 2004, 2008 and 2013. Nik Aziz was also one of the prime movers of the Islamisation programme in the state, and played a key role in the development of the network of madrasahs (religious schools) there, linking them to a wider global network of madrasahs across the Muslim world.
…Farish A. Noor is Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University and author of The Malaysian Islamic Party PAS 1951-2013, Amsterdam University Press, 2014.
GPO / Online
Last updated on 01/12/2015