Let’s bury the hudud dread once and for all!

Our present laws are good enough to protect and serve Malaysians of all races and religions; we just need to find a way to prevent people from abusing the system, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.

Graphic: kelatekito.net

Graphic: kelatekito.net

Raising concerns or seeking intellectual debates surrounding hudud is a tricky business. In a country that seemingly boasts about its wonderful multiculturalism, it is only natural for non-Muslims and, to a certain extent, moderate Muslims of this country to reject the idea through and through.

The line that separates Malaysia as a secular state from an Islamic state has been blurred by mischievous, plotting politicians. The truth is enshrined in our Federal Constitution, and as Malaysians, we need to focus on that, above all.

We often joke about our politicians reigniting the hudud dread whenever elections are near. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that talk of hudud and other aspects of Islamisation is only done to gain Malay voters or rather, voters from the extreme hard right. The Barisan Nasional is aware that it only needs to entice these voters (who make up a very small percentage) to ensure that they will remain in federal power for the next several terms.

But there seems to be an obvious power struggle of sorts within the Malaysian Muslim communities through the politics of Umno and Pas. The power struggle comes in the form of portraying which political party can champion the rights of Muslims better. Now, this is of concern to Malaysians as the sincerity of implementing these laws in the first place has been lost over the years.

With the ever declining quality of education in Malaysia, stoking anger among these sects seems to be easy. Many of us often find ourselves wondering what has happened to our society. Most of us are too familiar with the concept of rote learning which does not encourage students to think critically or rely on foresight during important decision-making processes. We are told to follow authoritative figures blindly.

This is especially true where religious education is concerned. Religion has been used as a tool to silence any form of passive and active dissent with threats of burning for all eternity when one dares to question religion. The public’s fear is affirmed when local media highlight the inane remarks made from several of these extremist groups while the government diligently chooses to keep mum on matters of faith and religion.

Malaysian society was much freer 57 years ago than today.

As a Muslim, I am duty bound to accept Sharia laws. But in an ever increasingly globalised world, civic laws have been implemented to serve the average human being, and so far, they seem to be doing a pretty good job. Developed nations are developed due to many reasons; basic needs (e.g. education, health care, gender equality and religious freedom) are met; basic rights (human rights, women’s’ rights, etc) are upheld; and their societies embrace a deeper understanding of humankind and kinship.

It is easy to find a scapegoat for the problems any present day society is faced with. And for that reason, presenting hudud as a form of reform may be more easily embraced by several Muslim communities.

But it is our responsibility to thoroughly research the pros and cons of such laws, especially when our country desperately needs a stronger system that can weed out corrupt elements effectively. So far, those championing hudud have not yet pointed out to Malaysians a nation that has successfully implemented hudud with a positive human rights record.

Of course, they assure us that this will only affect the Muslim community and the non-Muslims need not worry. Recently, a Muslim father abducted his son in a custody battle gone amiss, even though the non-Muslim mother was granted full custody. The father proclaimed his right to do so in the name of religion and this left the enforcement more confused than ever. How can a country expect to be fair when we have two separate laws to govern different religions?

My Malaysian brothers and sisters, believe what you will, but hudud will affect everyone – directly and indirectly!

As a Muslim woman, I can’t stress enough how hudud laws are biased against women and how implementing these laws would be a massive slap in the face of women’s rights. According to hudud, if a woman (or man) is raped, she will need to produce four male witnesses or eight female witnesses.

One male witness is similar to two female witnesses and that is nothing more than old fashion sexism. For example, if a woman was abducted for this purpose and taken to an isolated place, coming up with witnesses would be an impossible task; so how can we guarantee that these laws will not be manipulated by those with vested interests? That itself is a mockery in modern society, and as a woman, I will not allow my Muslim sisters (or anyone) to be discriminated against this way.

As a Muslim, I am also aware of the backlash I will be subjected to by overzealous bigots that comprehend words too literally and lack the intellectual depth needed to understand just how complex modern society is.

My point is this: Malaysians are too well aware of how our system can be manipulated and misused to benefit the political elite, the well connected and the cronies. Average Malaysians like you and me are forced to accept whatever fate comes our way.

So why not focus on reviving the judiciary that has been systematically destroyed over the years by unscrupulous politicians? Why not clean up the system and get rid of corruption as that is the root of so much evil in our country? Why not teach our children the importance of respect, tolerance and other important human values instead of teaching them blind obedience, fear and hatred?

Our laws are good enough to protect and serve Malaysians of all races and religions; we just need to find a way to prevent people from abusing the system.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid

Syerleena Abdul Rashid, an Aliran member, is a consultant in sports, fitness and water sports. A certified helmsman, she is currently in the midst of post-graduate studies in tourism development.

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Come on, tell us what you think

  1. All these commotions are for nothing because at the end hudud WILL NOT be around, not in Malaysia simple as ABC. All these huhah is just for political reasons and for political needs and most of all is for the Umno schmucks to for two reasons. One is to divert the attention of the Malays and second is to ensure their political survival, period.
    They have almost six decades to do so yet nothing happens and why now ? When their tenancy in Putrajaya is based on the support of the minority and with the introduction of this GST their fate is sealed and the inevitable is just round the corner. They know that and ye they are still going to implement this GST and you might to know why ?
    It is the only chance to get the revenues that it will generate, not for the projects, but for the schmucks to enrich themselves and also the last chance for them to pay all the inflated bills from the Umno schmucks appointed contractors before their stay in Putrajaya comes to an end.
    One other question why is going to happen when the black gold runs out ?
    Where can the replacement of the revenue Petronas is generating be found especially when Petronas is presently is the biggest tax payers in the country. Yet Malaysia has still got to introduce this antibiotic called GST the side effect of this antibiotic is the demise of Umno or shall I say Umno Baru.
    May be then Allah will take the egregious Mahathir away from Malaysia !

  2. You are honest and brave enough to call a spade a spade. We need more of you to stand up. Will share so that my Muslim friends will read and reflect on your article. As it is, it is worrying that many actually supported Isma’s ‘ideology’.

  3. Bravo, fully support and applaud. Wish you ran for office (notice I didn’t say wish you were a politician ;)

  4. I can understand why the liberal Muslims are silent – they are just too gentle a crowd, a people whom I have always admired as tolerant and easy-going. However, I fear that if they continue to be silent, as a non-Muslim, I certainly fear the future for all us M’sians.

    You need to stand up and voice your opinion. Us Nons are presently fearful to speak as any reaction is treated as ‘an insult to Islam’. Your voice will be joined by us but you need to be vocal first.

  5. A very enlightening views.
    Like the majority of malaysians, I care about people’s right, not about their beliefs.
    Beliefs can be anything eg. communism, nazism, ghosts and superstitions, and
    other diabolical creeds etc. and they have no rights like human rights.

    Foremost of all human rights is freedom of conscience which cannot exist without freedom
    of speech. People are free to believe what they want and criticize what they want if their
    conscience dictates that their criticism is for the betterment of the nation. This is the
    foundation of freedom. Without the freedom to criticize and accepting convention and beliefs
    unquestionably would not have taken man to the present level of technological progress.

    Some people are colour-blind. I’m both, colour-blind and religion-blind and I value goodness in
    people regardless of whether they are Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, or believers
    of nothing. Spreading religion with humanity, respecting and helping one another, and giving high respect to
    all living creatures is a way way much better than through intimidation and threats about hell and
    God’s curse. By that many people will respect that religion regardless of whether people join them or not.

    I hope one day, everyone becomes religion-blind. That would be the day of the unity of mankind.
    My sincere appreciation to the above lady writer, a Muslim, for her bold stand on the hudud issue.

  6. Kudos to the writer who spoke out bravely on this sensitive topic. True, the world belongs to everyone and everyone should be equal in it without being forced. But we already have elements of sharia law in our legal system (common law), For hudud, other than theft / robbery laws, it relate mostly to transgressions against heaven, God is surely powerful enough to mete out punishment for an eternity without our help. I agree its not necessary to complicate matters with more interpretations. As any lawyer know, complexity is the friend of those who are smart and crafty enough to get their way thru court. People are human, mistakes / abuses will happen and some punishments are extreme that wrong conviction cannot be undone (also if i’m not mistaken, seems someone once said there are no provisions for retrial or quash of wrong sentence). For example, will the judge / prosecutor comply with principle of eye for an eye and agree to have his hands chopped off for mistake of same magnitude? That would seem fair but I don’t think any enforcer will agree. Also, in the past, non-Moslems had their own laws, so why suddenly we need to force them to live by hudud. If a non moslem country imposed their religious laws (not just religious inspired laws) on moslems, how would that fly? Know many things iv said can be taken as being “sensitive” but hope we agree this is a transparent discussion amongst right thinking folks. TQ.