"Speak now or forever hold your peace in pieces."
As seen and published on The Malaysian Insider on 17 June 2014.
In my blog post, “Why I Do Not Agree With Hudud In Malaysia”, I mentioned that I was not against Hudud law, but its implementation. One would think that such a simple statement would be straightforward and easy to understand, no? But apparently not.
I have received countless of messages and comments telling me that I do not understand Hudud, or that opposing its implementation meant I am against “divine” law. I’ve even had people telling me that I was a kafir or murtad for not believing in Hudud law. The amount of people who did not understand my post, and went on to comment about my faith, amazed me. Do Malaysian Muslims only see what they want to see? It would seem so.
Maybe that explains why they believe PAS, without doubt or caution, when they say that Hudud law is divine law, and its implementation would mean fulfilling all obligations as a Muslim. It’s like the moment someone mentions “divine”, all room for logic and thinking goes out the window and people surrender, saying “I cannot question this.”
While matters of faith does involve undying belief on your part, it does not mean that one should not be allowed to use your brain to think. In fact, what is the point of embracing something you do not understand? Islam is surely not a religion of blind faith. There is more to Islam than just literal interpretations or rituals and outward practices.
Now, I do not wish to stall any further.
Not only is PAS’ Hudud bill impossible to implement constitutionally, but most importantly, it is not as “divine” as PAS makes it out to be or as Malaysian Muslims believe it to be. It has a lot of conflicts with our Federal Constitution, and also has no attempts of ijtihad (independent reasoning) over new issues. But the reason why I am not going to concentrate on constitutional arguments is because, let’s face it, most of those in favour of PAS’ Hudud don’t care that we’re a secular country or that our Federal Constitution is the highest law of the land.
I have come to the conclusion that a lot of those who believe that implementing Hudud law will solve all societal ills, simply do not know what is written on the bill or they do not what is Hudud in the Qur’an. Maybe if they do, they would know that it isn’t the “divine” law they thought it was. In fact, does anyone even have the authority to define their interpretations as divine?
The formation of Islamic law took place over several centuries. During the Prophet PBUH’s lifetime, he was the judge of the community and interpreter of divine revelations. On his death, the responsibility of interpreting the Qur’an, and translating those interpretations into practical decisions fell on the four caliphs that succeeded him, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. Almost a century after the Prophet PBUH’s passing, the four schools of jurisprudence were founded by the four great imams, Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas, Shafi’i and Hanbal. The systematic compilation of the hadith by the six scholar-jurists, Bukhari, Muslim, Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Nasai, took place even later in the 9th century. From here, it is safe to say that no one can claim exclusive right that their interpretation of Islam is the one and only truth.
While it is true that Hudud exists in the Qur’an (expressions that occurs 14 times in the Holy Book which represent moral standards or barriers between what is tolerable and not), it is not right to say that the Hudud law of PAS is divine revelation. More than anything, Hudud law of PAS is nothing but an imitative and literalist approach of the Al-Ahkam As-Sultaniyyah (The Laws Of Islamic Governance) that takes absolutely no approach in ijtihad or to even consider the social conditions and realities of contemporary Muslims today. Have they forgotten that we are not living in 7th century Arabia? Not only that, but they also do not take into consideration the opinions of other ulama who may not share the same interpretation as they do.
The right thing to say would be that Hudud law of PAS is derived from the Qur’an (or so they say), but is in no way “divine” law, for no human interpretation of divine revelation can claim for itself the same status as the revelation itself.
Many Malaysian Muslims praise Brunei for their implementation of Hudud law, even though the Sultan has been exempted from it. If Hudud law is divine, does this make the Sultan higher than God? Not forgetting that PAS has also amended their Hudud bill before. So how “divine” is it actually when it can be changed? When Mat Sabu was caught for khalwat in 1995, this silenced PAS’ efforts to push for Hudud law in the 90s. If they were truly keen on implementing Hudud law, why don’t they implement it on our higher-ups first, or their own members, to set an example?
It is the duty of the Muslim ummah to ensure that the spirit of Hudud law as contained within the Bill do not contravene the ethical principles of justice and equality as required by the Qur’an. As long as something is open for interpretation, it can always be disputed, challenged and questioned. And as long as there is room for doubt, such severe punishments should not be carried out.
It is also important to note that the Hudud of Allah pertains to divorce, marriage, repentance and inheritance matters. But what about the Hudud of PAS? It does not mention any of those matters and only concentrates on criminal punishments, which is the Hudud that has been codified by man.
Yes, I am aware that Hudud law can be traced back to centuries ago. But Hudud law has been changed and amended in different societies depending on the authorities and lived realities of its citizens. My main point? Hudud law, what else Hudud of PAS, is not Hudud of Allah, which means it is not divine law. It was codified and amended by man, thus making it as man-made as criminal law.
The example of the damage Hudud law can do to a nation is there for you to see. It is only up to the individual to realize this, or deny it forever. Yes, criminal law can be manipulated too, but manipulation in the name of religion creates worse damage.
How can we expect justice to be carried out by the state when we have the Kelantan Deputy MB saying things like “If a woman cannot prove she was raped, she will be charged for zina.” Do Muslims have the heart to see the name of Allah being used and tarnished this way? As though terrorism by Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the likes are not enough already.
Many people are fooled into believing that establishing an Islamic state and implementing Hudud is the be-all and end-all to becoming a Muslim. Whatever happened to the importance of ethics and virtues within the Muslim community? I don’t know, but I hope it comes back.