Ulama in the Polls? Whatever Happens, the Ship Must Not Sink

As the region gears up for next year’s national polls, an issue has cropped up yet again that needs to be given the Bangsamoro’s attention: Ulama running for elective posts.

While there is not a problem regarding their right to run for elective office in a secular, non-Muslim majority country, as it is one of their rights to do so, the subject of religious personalities vying for posts in the local and regional government presents something that the Bangsamoro voters should ponder on.

Ulama are seen as unifying forces in a community which professes Islam as their creed. In fact, alongside traditional leaders, they are seen as leaders of the faithful in the community, providing spiritual support and a moral compass that guides the community in their everyday living. Now what happens if this moral and spiritual compass is upturned because the ones directing it decided to loosen their hold on the steering wheel and sail another ship at the same time?

Will they still hold the same credibility and moral ascendancy should fate grant them the mandate to serve the people (and be on a payroll and everything that goes—and should not go—with it)? Will power corrupt them, human as they are? At this point in the rush to file COC’s, will they resort to the usual electioneering rituals of their fellow candidates and engage in mudslinging wars with other contenders, or will they offer voters a breathe of fresh air?

With their present disunity deeply rooted on so many religious issues and stances, including personal interests, will elected ulama serve to unite the people in striving to assert their right to live as righteous Muslims, or will they, too, get eaten alive by a system that has been largely blamed for so much of society’s present ills?

So many questions, and not many ready answers. However, one thing remains: elected or not, the movers of society’s moral compass should still stay the course so as not to sink the ship. (PMT)

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