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Reject hudud before it destroys our lives

 | April 25, 2014

In Malaysia religious and controversial topics like the Islamic penal code elicit six responses, all of them imperfect.

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HududHow 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.

Selfish agendas

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.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist


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