Islamic scholars urged to speak up on shariah issue

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PETALING JAYA: Islamic scholars need to speak up against “self-interpreted” shariah laws,  says Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) Director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.

Speaking to FMT, Farouk said there was a difference between “the sacredness of shariah” and “fiqh” (Islamic jurisprudence) which is interpolated based on human construct.

Using PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s bill as an example, Farouk said such laws and bills should be open for debate as the laws were human interpretations.

“It is basically human interpretation, so they are not divine and they are not sacred. We have to be able to differentiate the two aspects – what is sacred and what is interpreted based on one’s own understanding,” said Farouk.

Citing Ibnul Qayyim, a great Islamic scholar of the 14th Century, Farouk said the ultimate aim of shariah was to ensure justice.

“Any law that is passed without justice, or a law that is unjust, is not shariah.”

He urged Islamic scholars to speak out loud and clear so that the layman could understand and appreciate the difference.

“There are many cases these days where everything is politicised; where they say that these are God’s laws and, therefore, we as humans do not have the authority to discuss it.

“So it is up to the scholars to do so. If they are scared to voice out, to say that these are human-constructed views, things will never change,” said Farouk.

Activist-lawyer Siti Kasim is another prominent figure who regularly speaks out on the issue.

On Monday, she led about a dozen protesters outside the Parliament building, carrying placards with messages of “Islam is beautiful”, “Malays are not lackeys”, and “#RejectAct355 I’m a Muslim and I don’t support it”. Act 355 refers to PAS’ hudud bill, tabled to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to allow for heavier penalties against shariah offenders.

Siti said there was a lack of constitutional protection for Muslims in the country, especially after amendments in the Federal Constitution placed shariah laws on par with civil law.

The outspoken lawyer said while Muslims were protected under the Constitution, they could not seek redress over Islamic issues through civil laws due to the “judiciary’s lack of courage”.

The bill has drawn criticism from civil society groups and Barisan Nasional component parties, who say it is part of PAS’ efforts to eventually introduce hudud in Kelantan.

Several Muslim groups, including muftis, have on the other hand urged Muslim lawmakers to support the bill when it is put to vote.