As an aside to the academic work I normally do, last week I was given the opportunity to meet Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader (Murshidul Am) of Pas at his office in Kelantan. Despite the frail health of the man and his taxing schedule, we managed to pack in close to two hours worth of interview on tape.
One thing struck me somewhere during the second half of our meeting. I remarked to him that his home was suprisingly similar to that of Ho Chi Minh’s in Hanoi, Vietnam, and that both he and the revered “Uncle Ho” chose to give up their stately government mansions to live in humble wooden houses. I also said that he was using the same cheap, plastic BIC ballpoint pen that I had seen him use when we first met in 1999. This occasioned a laugh and a smile from him, but it struck us both that these observations were far from pedestrian. The truth is that for both revolutionary Islamic and Communist movements alike the world over, the democratic impetus and the drive for revolutionary politics were accompanied by a strong sense of disdain for worldliness, and a respect for a Spartan way of life. Whatever you may say about Ho Chi Minh, one thing you could never accuse him of was corruption and the easy life. The same applies to Nik Aziz as the spiritual leader of Pas…. selanjutnya.