Hudud, a cause for hubris and hypocrisy

The Malaysian Insider
23 March 2015

Justice or hubris, democracy or hypocrisy, these are the questions cropping up as hudud laws make their regular appearance in the Malaysian political and legal landscape.

If you read or listen to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, and even self-confessed PAS progressives such as Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, you get the impression that hudud has a place in Malaysian society.

Fact is, even Umno politicians, with the exception of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will find it hard to disagree with their political opponents in PAS.

And Muslims themselves have to confront the fact that the Quran does speak of such criminal laws and punishments.

Hadi told Malay daily Berita Harian that it was PAS’s democratic right to push through such laws and a private members’ bill to enable it.

Meanwhile, in his column in The Malaysian Insider today, Dzulkefly wrote, “To answer specifically on our position on hudud, I once again say, without fear or favour, that hudud has its own unique place in the larger corpus of Islamic legal prescription or jurisprudence, ie. in Islamic law.

“We nonetheless do not think that it is the most important imperative of the shariah, given the many other competing priorities. Never should a Muslim be accused, however, of rejecting shariah if he/she believes in its transcendental (revealed) origin, but prioritises other more important shariah imperatives as taking precedent over its penal code.”

To be fair, almost everyone – and this includes politicians in parties other than PAS, PKR or Umno – believes that hudud is eventually possible in Malaysia.

The answer, though, is no.

It is not possible in the Malaya formed by the Federal Constitution of 1957 and amended in 1963 for the creation of Malaysia.

Punishments are within the jurisdiction of the federal government, not state governments. Any change just for Kelantan affects other states, and changes the entire constitution and character of the nation known as Malaysia.

Would it be fair that a Muslim guilty of theft gets his hand amputated while a thief of another faith only gets a jail sentence? Is that just? Well, not even by Islamic justice or standards.

These points have been argued since 1993 by an entire gallery of politicians from the entire spectrum, constitutional lawyers, religious leaders, activists and some Malaysians. You just have to search for “hudud 1993” in any search engine and all the answers and viewpoints still being argued are there.

The question now is whether PAS is again pushing for hudud laws because of justice or hubris. Aren’t common criminal laws and punishments enough for the guilty? Or to be specific, for the guilty Muslim?

Or is this just an attempt to score points for the afterlife, as expounded by Hadi in his vision, at the expense of Malaysians in Kelantan?

If it is a case of democracy, why then say that all Muslim lawmakers are bound to support it as it is God’s law? In a democracy, shouldn’t one vote according to one’s conscience without being told that God says so?

Isn’t it hypocrisy to invoke democracy and then say it is God’s laws?

If democracy means a choice and a voice, does that mean it is fine for anyone to leave the faith?

Dzulkefly is correct to say that it is not an imperative right now because other issues are more important. The thing is, it should not be an imperative at all.

A law that changes what the founding fathers of Malaysia wanted for Malaysians cannot be accepted.

These PAS chaps – be they the clerics or progressives – are trying to spin it as part of the democratic process of having differences. In effect, they want to have their cake and eat it too.

If there are a few things that have become clear after GE13, it’s these: PAS leaders are patently dishonest and champions of double-speak. They speak of a welfare state and yet, Kelantan is proof that the people’s welfare is just about hudud.

The only saving grace is that Hadi has never hidden his ambition for an Islamic state.

But the so-called progressives have sidelined it in the quest for power-sharing and now lack the moral courage to leave a political party rotten to the core.

PAS leaders who care more about the afterlife should carry on without taking the rest of us with them. Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own afterlife, and not some cleric, cop or charlatan who wants to score points for himself. – March 23, 2015.

  1. #1 by good coolie on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 - 9:15 pm

    Islamic law, especially the criminal law for which specific punishments are prescribed (hudud), is not the law of the land. However, it is entirely in within the rights of anyone, especially on grounds of conscience, to push for the amendment of the Federal Constitution to make Islamic Law (specifically hudud) to be law in the Federation. This is what PAS is doing.

    Let the proponents of hudud bring forth their point of view to convince others of the correctness of hudud by universal, objective criteria, not by merely religious (subjective) criteria.

    The greatest debates about the applicability of hudud should be carried out among Muslims themselves in a free and sincere manner. One should not point to the objections of Non-Muslims to hudud as the reason the Government objects to its implementation (for the present). This stated reason would it make it easier for extremists to undermine the Constitution and implement hudud by force if they are capable of doing so. The justification of course would be the religious justification (which overrides the opinion of Non-Muslims).

    So, I ask UMNO: are you objecting to hudud implementation for the present merely because the Non-Muslims object to it? Or do you believe that upon a holistic interpretation of sacred scripture, the objectives of law/society would be better served postponing the implementation of hudud?

You must be logged in to post a comment.