Why the hudud controversy will not die

by Pak Sako
14 October 2011

PAS and DAP’s decision to ‘agree to disagree’ on hudud must be taken for what it really is: a politically-motivated temporary ceasefire.

It does not resolve the hudud controversy.

The controversy can never be resolved as long as the fundamental questions of the hudud debate continue to be avoided. The questions are:

1. What goals are hudud meant to achieve?

2. What are the pluses and minuses of hudud?

3. Do all Malaysian Muslims as well as non-Muslims want hudud?

A national dialogue on implementing hudud must exhaustively probe these questions before anything else.

An open and critical exploration of these questions will help the public learn and decide about whether hudud is necessary, worthwhile, appropriate or out-of-date. It will enable policymakers to discover whether the informed public desires hudud or not.

Without full public discussion and public consent, it is immoral for policymakers to presuppose the value of hudud and speak about its implementation. It is also wrong to assume that a simple parliamentary majority (which is all that is needed) is an automatic mandate to incrementally amend the Constitution to accommodate hudud.

The public on their part should not leave it the politicians, the religious scholars or the royalty to decide matters for them. The politicians, mullahs and kings do not know all the answers or what’s best for society; they have a personal or biased interest in the matter; and it is undemocratic to allow the preferences of these vested interest groups to influence a decision that should be in the hands of the people.

The politician’s role should be confined to satisfying the independently determined wish of the people. If after careful deliberation the people choose to reject hudud, this decision must be respectfully accepted. The Islamic theologians are useful insofar as they can provide the evaluating public with technical input, such as the scope, workings and other details of hudud. Likewise with the political scientists and other relevant experts.

All members of the public including interest groups and civil society organisations should thrash out the questions about the purposes and worth of hudud. The Muslims must be able to evaluate and decide on hudud free from social pressures and political or religious brainwashing. This includes the notorious ‘bad Muslim’ stigma that could prevent them from saying ‘no’ to hudud when ‘no’ is what they truly desire. As for the non-Muslims, they are not free to wash their hands of the issue; they are responsible parties to any law that the politicians they had elected might enact and administer upon their fellow citizens.

PAS and all other proponents of hudud have a special obligation to explain the explicit and implicit aims they believe hudud is to serve and the rationales for these. They must engage in discussions about the value of hudud and the problems and concerns associated with it. The burden of proof is on the shoulders of the proposers of the law.

What is unacceptable is for hudud advocates to justify hudud purely on grounds of religious faith and conviction. Statements such as ‘hudud is ordained by Allah’, ‘it is our duty as Muslims to implement hudud no matter what’ and ‘nobody on Earth can be fair, only Allah knows best’ are useless for assessing the strengths, weaknesses, impact and relevance of a law with far-reaching consequences for the lives of both Muslims and non-Muslims. If hudud is God’s gift, let it stand on its own merit. A thorough assessment of the desirability (or undesirability) of hudud should be welcomed, not feared.

Issuing gag orders on hudud, sidestepping core hudud issues and whitewashing hudud-related statements — these are the behaviours of political plotters and ideologues for whom having things their way is more important than doing things right.

If PAS and DAP — and the Barisan Nasional too — truly hold the interest of the Malaysian people at heart, they should push for a national conversation that focuses on the core of the matter, that is, the pros and cons of hudud and whether the people want it or not. To refuse to talk it out is to leave the door open to tyranny.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Friday, 14 October 2011 - 1:47 pm

    It’s got 999 lives.

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Friday, 14 October 2011 - 7:14 pm

    ///The questions are:

    1. What goals are hudud meant to achieve?

    2. What are the pluses and minuses of hudud?

    3. Do all Malaysian Muslims as well as non-Muslims want hudud?///- Pak Sako

    Yes these are the Questions relating to Hudud implementation. However the more fundamental question is do we Malaysians want to support communal political parties like UMNO, MCA & MIC that use race to bait votes and a relious party like PAS that uses religion to bait votes? Politics of Race and Religion – Yes or no only.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Friday, 14 October 2011 - 10:00 pm

    It is good DAP and PAS keep agreeing and disagreeing on this issue …yet both totally agree to fight against corruptions…and all issues..except Hudud.
    It shows both are different…not puppets…not shoe shine boys…and both are practicing true democratic rights.
    The issue can only be solved when PR is elected to govern…and you can be sure…the conclusion will please all Malaysians…once the big fishes are charged or put to jail.
    Meanwhile….Kelantan is as free as a bird for decent Malaysians…respecting each other cultures….living in harmony and happiness.
    UMNO b dare not agree to disagree….why?
    They are playing God..Judge and jury… yet no balls to speak out clearly..for their religion…why?
    They say….UMNO b is against a Islamic State proposal…thus indirectly agreeing with DAP.
    One only need to judge all the events and conclude how UMNO b rules.
    They have defied God…defied rules of laws..and govern by laws of the jungle.

  4. #4 by asia on Friday, 14 October 2011 - 11:54 pm

    Punish human like an animal

  5. #5 by all4democracy on Monday, 17 October 2011 - 2:59 am

    I hope everyone understand that Democracy is all about respecting the voice of the majority. Why all the fuss about hudud? I belief not all Muslim agree to it nor all non-Muslim is against it. So, no point of wasting more time arguing who’s right or wrong, just hold a general voting to decide it if necessary, then it would be fair to say whether it should be implemented or not? Case close.

  6. #6 by regi on Friday, 21 October 2011 - 2:45 am

    The problem with ‘majority’ is the ‘tyranny of the majority’. Politics is not just about the ‘majority’ but it is about deliberating on public issues and giving public reasons for why certain arguments are valid. This Hudud issue is a test of our ability to communicate in the public discourse, regardless of one’s cultural or religious background. If we keep on self-censoring ourselves, we will never achieve the kind of qualitative change in our political mindset. I’m tired of people telling me what I can or cannot say because of my religious background.

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