Hudud: 1 country, 2 sets of laws?

2 laws

(Should Islamic law take over precedent over conventional law if the conventional already exist and been applied by the courts of the country? The same case for hudud now. Why not improve on the existing laws and enforce it instead of bringing in another set of law that does not apply to all? Why reinvent the wheel? Cartoon source: The Net)

The issue of hudud have been in the news lately and there have been plenty of statements made in public and by various parties including politicians from both side of the fence, supporting for or opposing the implementation of hudud.

Before anyone starts to jump up & down and argues that the non-Muslims should stay out of it and keep their silence on the issue of hudud since it will only be imposed on the Muslims and nothing further than that, let’s clear our minds for a moment and let’s try to understand why there have been so much objection, noise and comments by the non-Muslims on something that does not affect them in the first place.

An article by Mariam Mokhtar over at FMT may explain this further. It makes a lot of sense and shows that we have a long way to go before we can implement something called hudud which at the end of the day, will affect us all – both Muslims and non Muslims.

Reject hudud before it destroys our lives

How often have Muslim clerics, the National Fatwa Council or the Islamic institutions spoken against corrupt and immoral leaders? How often have they highlighted the injustices, in particular the deaths in custody or the murders of people who are linked to the echelons of power? When did they last criticise people who openly abuse power?

Those of us who oppose hudud do so not because we are anti-Islam but because we do not trust the people who will implement hudud. In Malaysia religious and controversial topics like hudud elicit six responses, all of them unsatisfactory.

First: Those who hate Umno Baru will say, “Bring it on! We want to see hudud being used on Umno Baru ministers and politicians. Let us see how they will cope without limbs!”

This is just wishful thinking. Thinking without any rationality does not help the debate on hudud. No-one in the Umno-Baru elite has been punished for the thousands of injustices perpetrated today, from rapes of maids to “rasuah”, or theft of taxpayers’ money to the taking of lives by powerful people.

Criminals escape punishment not because we have insufficient laws, but because the laws are not enforced and our judiciary is corrupt to the core. Umno-Baru ministers have always escaped punishment. Who honestly thinks that hudud will escape manipulation?

Second: Those who propose the implementation of hudud claim that hudud will result in a crime-free (or relatively low crime) state. Wrong! Which nation under hudud has a low crime rate, negligible rape and no corruption? PAS Kelantan cannot perform miracles.

Corrupt leaders and institutions thrive because the systems to check them, have failed. They fail because the people who should be enforcing them are not trustworthy or have a secret agenda. Once we start to administer laws without fear or favour, crime rates may drop.

Third: If you are a Muslim and you oppose hudud, it means that you are going against Islam. Nothing could be more insulting to any decent God-fearing Muslim. Islam encourages the acquisition of knowledge and encourages debate, but Malay Muslims appear reluctant to engage in intelligent discourse. Why?

In Malaysia, Malay Muslims accept archaic laws or traditional thinking and beliefs without question. Last month a retired judge criticised the presence of large statues at the entrance to the Batu Caves and in Penang. In Egypt, the land of 95% Muslims, few worry about the presence of the Sphinxes.

Kartika Dewi Sukarno was charged with drinking beer in a public place. She was treated like someone who had committed a heinous crime, like murder. The Muslim clergy wanted to make a showcase of her, by punishing her with whipping even though civil laws prevent women from being whipped, in Malaysia.

Soon after, three women were whipped in secret, for having extramarital sex. No details are known of the men. The government was afraid of a backlash like the Kartika case. The three women and Kartika were punished, whereas well-connected people who drink freely, and fornicate in five-star hotels and exclusive clubs in Kuala Lumpur escape scot free.

Fourth: If you are a non-Muslim and you made your views known about hudud as any responsible Malaysian would, some Muslims will attack you and say, “You have no right to comment. You are not even Muslim.”

Another response might be, “You have nothing to fear as you are not Muslim. Hudud will not affect you.” Wrong again! A woman was charged in Penang under syariah law even though she was not a Muslim.

In a recent child conversion case, the father kidnapped his son, even though his former wife, a Hindu, had been given custody of their child. There have been other miscarriages of justice when bodies have been snatched and taken for “Muslim” burial.

Who says that non-Muslims will not be affected by Muslim laws? Hudud will creep into your lives, sooner or later.

Fifth: Some Muslims will say that it is God’s law and Muslims must abide by it. As we have seen, civil or syariah laws have been manipulated by evil, unscrupulous and corrupt men, to suit their own selfish agendas.

One girl I know, was forced into marriage because her neighbour, whose advances she had rejected, accused her of having sex with her boyfriend. She is now a sad divorcee with children, and she freely admits, “We were forced into marriage to avoid humiliation for both our families. We married to avoid a prison sentence, but still had to pay a fine.

“The neighbour was wrong to accuse us and call the moral police. He wrecked our lives. Eventually, we had children and I had to stay at home to look after them. I regret ending my studies and I think my boyfriend resented me. We were both young, but we were wronged.”

Another woman was set up by her husband. He wrongly accused his first wife of infidelity so that he could marry a younger woman. He beat his first wife and she left him. He refused to grant her a divorce, and he will not help with the upkeep of the children. He married in southern Thailand and simply paid a nominal fine, when he returned to Malaysia, for failing to register the marriage and for not seeking the permission of his first wife.

Syariah failed both these women and one doubts if hudud would reduce the discrimination against women, the poor and the marginalised. Several homosexual Muslim men and women lead secret lives in Malaysia or have emigrated. What would happen to them under hudud? Aren’t they God’s creatures, too?

The sixth response is apathy. Yours! The Allah case has divided this nation, because a few men held their tongues. They were afraid to go against one man who had a personal agenda against another party. Speak out now, before hudud destroys our lives.

(Source)

Firstly, there is a valid reason why the non-Muslim are very concerned with the idea of hudud. Yes, it only applies to the Muslims for now but once this is in place and implemented wide spread, what is the assurance that it will not be expended to cover the non-Muslims as well – all in the name of standardisation and to weed out double standards?

It will never happen, you say? Well, think again:-

The drama unfolded when Takiyuddin questioned Md Alwi’s statement to the press outside the House on Wednesday that the PAS-led Kelantan government was inconsistent in banning gambling but allowing non-Muslims to consume and sell alcohol. Takiyuddin said the government had never condoned alcohol consumption in Kelantan as it was against Islamic teachings.

Later, at a press conference outside the house, Md Alwi clarified that the Kelantan government practised double standards. “If they had banned gambling activities they should also ban alcohol consumption for both Muslims and non-Muslims,’’ he said.

(Source)

And this:-

PAS Kelantan State Government should rescind the ban of liquor sale by the Tanah Merah district council ordering coffee shops and restaurants to stop selling alcoholic drinks, including beer and stout and issue a similar directive to all local councils in the state.

It has been reported that the directive, contained in a letter dated August 8 and signed by council secretary Ruslan Hassan was hand-delivered to several Chinese-owned coffee shops and restaurants in the district, giving them a grace period of 15 days to clear their stocks.

(Source)

And this:-

Hair dressing salon operators are learning the hard way that gender segregation rules in Kelantan apply to non-Muslims as well. They have had to pay many summonses for allowing their female workers to cut the hair of non-Muslim male patrons, which they thought was permissible. E-Life Hair Salon manager Ong Lee Ting said she had settled 11 summonses since she opened for business in KB Mall in 2010.

Gender segregation is among the controversial regulations imposed by the PAS state government, which insists that the rule be also observed at supermarket check-outs. The last time Ong went to the local council office to pay a compound, she was told that the licence for the salon would be revoked because of the many summonses issued to the operator.

However, council secretary Mohd Anis Hussein said: “As long as they (the salon owners) pay the compounds, they will be allowed to operate.”

(Source)

And lately this:-

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) officers allegedly asked two non-Muslim students questions about the Islamic faith as part of a scholarship interview in Sarawak over the weekend.

The students were left speechless after being asked to name the prophets of Islam, the rukun (precepts) of Islamic prayers, and their opinion on the controversial hudud law, among others.

They are now afraid that their inability to answer the questions would affect their applications for university scholarships under the Indigenous People’s Trust Council.

(Source)

What will happen if a Muslim and non Muslim been caught under the same crime? Will they be treated under a different justice system with 2 different outcomes – one jailed for x number of years and another with his limbs amputated? For how long you expect them to be treated under a different justice system with 2 different outcomes before someone comes up and claims double standard and asks for both to have their limbs chopped off?

There are already some morons in this country calling fellow Malaysians infidels just because some of us profess to difference religion and insists on overriding everyone to come up on a Islamic state (where they were all these years when Malaysia is branded as a country with multiple race, religion & culture?). Yes, now they will say that it applies only for Muslims but in the near future, what’s stopping them from asking why the “minority infidels” are not subjected to the same law of the “majority. It is only fair, right? I am sure even then they will chant the mantra “don’t let ‘infidels’ decide on hudud”

Secondly, even though one may argue that hudud only applies to the Muslims, it is part and parcel of the Islamic teaching and is needed to curtail the escalating crime rate, the thing is why we need 2 sets of laws in this country that only creates sheer confusion to all Malaysians – both Muslims and non Muslims alike.

Just take a look at the case of S. Deepa who had won the custody of their two children at the civil High Court, only for someone to come along and kidnap her son:-

The police will not investigate a Muslim father accused of abducting his six-year-old son despite a civil High Court awarding custody to the Hindu mother, the country’s police chief said today. Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the father, a Hindu-turned-Muslim who now goes by the name Izwan Abdullah, had also won custody at the Shariah High Court.

Jelebu district police chief Setapa Yusof was reported by The Star daily earlier today saying the police were unable to take action due to the two conflicting court orders.

“As far as we are concerned, we cannot investigate Izwan for abducting his son. We have to respect and obey the orders issued by both courts,” he told The Star yesterday.

(Source)

In the above case, S Deepa does not have any recourse in the Syariah Court simply because she is not a Muslim (thus the case should not have gone to the Syariah Court in the first place) Where is the fairness when only one appears before the court and argues the case. And despite the High Court order came after the Syariah Court’s order and thus should in effect supersedes it (by this definition that the Syariah Court being an inferior court to the High Court) and makes S Deepa the legal guardian of the children, the police had decided upon themselves to say that both orders are valid and both has custody to the same child. So it has ended of who kidnap who first and the police had to look the other way in this case?

But you cannot blame them too – the confusion is there and the Government is keeping its silence on the matter and yet to come out to state the obvious. There is no clear precedent from the various court cases as well. After all, when the Parliament amended the Article 121 of the Constitution that created the Syariah Courts, it is unlikely it wanted the newly created Syariah courts to be in direct conflict with the existing civil courts.

Let’s set aside the issue of confusion for a second and look into the urgency and effectiveness instead.

The thing is, there NEVER been an issue of a serious lack of laws and rules in this country to cover the various offences. We made a wise move by adopting the Englishman’s law (or rather Indian & Australian penal codes) when we got our independence from the British. At least we did not had to create it from the scratch. We did not drop it despite it was the law of a “coloniser”. And despite having the Muslims as the majority back then, we did not opt to instil the Islamic law and choose to do what the Arabs did or go on own way. And over the years, we have repealed some laws, enacted some new ones and strengthened some of the existing ones.

We have always done that and the law had always worked to ensure fair play, justice, better protection and deserving punishments. So why now, there is an urgent need bring in the hudud laws? What is the shortcomings in the civil law that cannot be improved and can only be rectified by implementing hudud laws? And how one can say that hudud will be more effective in curtailing the crime rates than the conventional criminal laws? We need the promoters of the hudud laws to further clarify this. Perhaps they will argue that by chopping one’s hands, this guarantees the criminal will not be able to steal again. Ya, it makes sense but what happens if this person is found guilty due to an error by the witness or framed by someone else or a loophole in the law and only later after various appeals and perhaps new evidence, he was found to be innocent? Can he get back his hands?

Why not instead focus on the current shortcoming of the current civil law? And a large aspect of it boils down to the enforcement of the law. In some cases, a severe case of double standards and selective enforcement of the law. After all, these days, one wrong Facebook post of a politician’s wife could get the police to drop everything and swiftly arrest you. But the similar thing happens for the opposition MP (an elected one), nothing really moves. If the matter is something petty, then why the swift action on former’s case? And if it is the law, then why no action on the latter’s case? You see my point here? If the punishment is not severe enough, why not just amend the existing laws and impose a higher jail terms or whipping by the cane?

As a nation, we are already blundered big time many times over by having different economic policies to different sectors of Malaysians and different education system and political preference based on race, religion and culture, why  strive to disunite the nation even further by having different set of laws for different class of Malaysians? Still striving for developed nation status by 2020? Throw in the lack of enforcement and selective enforcement into the wood works and it will only be bad news for the country. Is this what we want at end of the day?

The non Muslims, frankly speaking, are not against hudud if it is implemented for the Muslims only and it is done fairly and without any bias but unfortunately, they have seen enough to know that it will not be the case. They are wary of the warning – hudud will creep into your lives, sooner or later. They are wary of the overzealous officials in enforcing the Islamic laws and this spilling over to affect the non Muslims (there already too many examples in the state of Kelantan, the very place they want to introduce the hudud laws). They are wary of the those entrusted with the necessary authority to be fair and unbiased when judging the law and applying it in the most equitable way to all Malaysian (such in the case of S. Deepa).

So just, prove to us that it only will apply on Muslims and hudud is being implemented only because there is a serious shortcomings in the current civil laws and we will stop worrying and make a big fuss about it.

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3 thoughts on “Hudud: 1 country, 2 sets of laws?

  1. What Muslims in Malaysia, especially our leaders who are Muslims, need to do first is to observe strictly all Islamic laws – Syariah, Hudud, etc. to the full and not to commit anything that’s wrong or prohibited in Islam and they also must abide by the country’s chosen set of laws. This would be a good start.

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