Okay for non-Muslims to question caning, says preacher

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent Muslim preacher says there is nothing wrong with non-Muslims questioning the public caning of two women convicted of attempting same-sex relations in Terengganu.

At the sidelines of a forum here yesterday, Wan Ji Wan Hussin said the Quran did not prohibit any of God’s creations from asking questions, although insults should be avoided.

Wan Ji Wan Hussin.

This applied to everyone, regardless of whether they were Muslims or not, he added.

“Questioning is not wrong. For those who don’t allow questioning, the problem is with them, not Islam,” he said after the forum on public caning titled “Sebatan Di Khalayak Ramai: Sejauh Mana Islamiknya”.

“This is the problem with some of our religious intellectuals who aren’t prepared to answer tough questions,” he added.

He said the caning of the two women could be questioned as the punishment was not found in the Quran or hadith, but was based on the views of a shariah court judge.

He added that the punishment had been adapted from the punishment for zina (unlawful sexual intercourse) which was different from same-sex relations.

“So in this context, it’s not wrong to discuss or even criticise, and it’s not wrong for non-Muslims to dispute it.”

In addressing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issue, he added, what wasn’t contained in the Quran shouldn’t be claimed as such.

“We have to celebrate the views of the majority, but at the same time we mustn’t deny the existence of minority views.”

The end goal, he said, was to develop a better society without animosity, discrimination or denial of rights.

Activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri meanwhile told FMT that the people needed to question those in authority over the caning saga.

“We must start questioning how those in power use this issue to remain in power or get power.

“It’s about standing up for the marginalised and the oppressed, and building a society that upholds compassion and justice.”

Fadiah, who was a panellist at the forum, said politicians on both sides of the divide would continue to exploit the issue which was why the people had to make discussions on the issue public.

“Everyone has a duty to talk about it, not just Muslims but everyone who believes in upholding the principles of justice and compassion.”

The two women who pleaded guilty to attempting same-sex relations in a car in Terengganu were caned six times each at the state’s Shariah High Court earlier this month.

The sentence, the first for such an offence in the country, was witnessed by more than 100 people including family members, lawyers and members of the media.