Monday, September 24, 2012

Hudud: Pakatan’s Death Knell By Elviza Michelle

The following view was sent to me by Ms Elviza Michelle who is a lawyer, writer and Blogger. Here is a picture of Elviza.  This article is about the hudud. These views are solely Elviza's and not mine. My comments follow.
Let’s just be honest. Time is nigh to spread the cards of truth on the table and call the conundrum what it really is: a recurring nightmare for secular Muslims and non-Muslims in the country. 

Born a Muslim, I risk being labeled ‘infidel’ by PAS and Taliban-mirrored Islamists of Malaysia for writing on hudud. But that’s a risk I’ll gladly run in the name of democracy and the truth. 

“But why now?” you might ask. 

My annoyance emerged in the face of Nasharuddin and Karpal’s continuous exchange of poisonous barbs over hudud in both the traditional media and online portals.  But it was the recent war of words between Mat Sabu and the widely read Sin Chew Daily that was the final nail in the coffin. Enough is just enough. 

Can you really blame me for believing Sin Chew Daily’s journalist more than I do Mat Sabu? If you were given a choice to believe between a journalist and politician, which one would you pick? I thought so. 

The furor escalated to an unprecedented height when Mat Sabu was quoted by Sin Chew’s journalist as saying that PAS would seek constitutional amendments in Parliament to implement Islamic law if it forms the Federal Government. His subsequent denial the day after sounds hollow and ill-prepared, a mere afterthought he coughed up when he found himself trapped by his own words. 

Sin Chew’s Tay Tian Yan has the sequence of event in earnest: 

Mat Sabu explained, "PAS has decided that it will seek constitutional amendments in Parliament to implement the hudud law once Pakatan takes the helm of the federal administration."

Our reporter called him after the evening edition of Sin Chew Daily hit the street, to reconfirm with him the content of his speech. Mat Sabu offered to change the tone from "decided" to "had the intention" (berhasrat) which our reporter agreed.

As a result, some minor changes appeared on the morning edition of the newspaper: "PAS has the intention of seeking constitutional amendment in the Parliament in order to implement hudud laws once Pakatan takes the helm of the federal administration."

In the meantime, we also interviewed PAS information chief, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, to get him to clarify the party's stand on this issue. His response was consistent with that of Mat Sabu’s and the same was published on the day's edition of Sin Chew Daily.

We have later acquired the official statement of PAS president, Hadi Awang, on August 13, as well as his August 25 statement published on the party's mouthpiece Harakah on the implementation of the hudud law.

We later clarified with PAS Secretary-General Mustafa Ali on the same issue.

Unfortunately, after the report went into print, Mat Sabu denied the following day what he had said, and claimed that Sin Chew Daily had distorted his speech.

It irks me immensely every time politicians say the less-than-intelligent things – ranging from saying UMNO hudud is better than PAS hudud to claiming that non-Muslims should accept hudud, too – in so far as this controversial law still forms the nucleus of political argument in Malaysia. 

Droves of politicians from PAS’s side have been making statements in pushing hudud agenda to the fore. 

The latest was from Kelantan PAS deputy commissioner, Datuk Mohd Nik Amar, “Although only applicable to Muslims, it will be ideal if non-Muslims one day accept hudud and Islamic jurisprudence towards the creation of a just society.” 

Of course, PAS national unity bureau chairman, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, too, refuses to be left out from hudud debate by saying, “Not all Muslims may agree with hudud but I believe the majority of Muslims in the country want to see it implemented after seeing the failure of secular laws in dealing with crime.” 

What Mujahid meant by ‘majority of Muslim in the country’ sounds simply too nebulous to my ears. Will the said majority please stand up and state your stand please?  

The statements from PAS leaders came in defense of Mat Sabu after he was being quoted that PAS would propose constitutional amendments in Parliament to implement Islamic law if it forms the Federal Government.

In retrospect, I am quite relieved that PAS does realise that implementing hudud would be unconstitutional and would be against the spirit of the Federal Constitution. But it ends there as PAS has no intention to let go of its agenda to push for the implementation of hudud. 

Well, dear politicians, do you mind terribly if I shift the light of attention – albeit briefly – away from you and state what the rakyat like me really think? 

The following paragraphs will sound like a broken record. But for the sake of clarity, allow me to put hudud into perspective: 

Hudud or Had (singular) in Arabic means limit or prohibition. The term is phrased to refer to the punishments for six crimes against the right of God, the penalties of which are described in the holy Qur’an and hadith:

Theft - amputation of the hand; illicit sexual relations - death by stoning or one hundred lashes (depending on marital status); accusations of illicit sex - eighty lashes; drinking alcohol - eighty lashes; apostasy - death or banishment; and highway robbery - death. 

These punishments are rarely applied in the Muslim world except in Saudi Arabia and under the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Some Muslim groups in, for example, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran and parts of Pakistan have also attempted to impose mandatory hudud punishments in local courts against Muslim defendants.

Are any of these countries progressive in your book? 

Even ruling parties in Islamic countries like Egypt and Morroco are not too eager in implementing hudud law. As to why PAS is still propagating this draconian criminal system is anyone’s guess. 

I apologize to you, the imaginative few, as it will be a mighty long time before you can see a convicted thief walking around the neighborhood with missing limbs.

Let me explain to you, PAS, why Hudud will not work in a secular and moderate Islamic country. Rest assured that I shall bear in mind your argument that hudud will serve as preventive measure and deterrence for perpetrators of crime. 

Enforcing hudud is unconstitutional (this reason alone should be deterrent enough for PAS. But, alas… )

Hudud – let’s not sugarcoat anything here – is draconian in nature and has no place in modern society. Its implementation and execution would prove to be difficult if not downright impossible in multicultural countries and societies.

Even if you argued that all Muslims should accept hudud, look around you for you will see a plenty of transgression, manipulation and abuse of the same law in nations like Afghasnitan, Pakistan, Sudan and Nigeria. These countries sank deeper in terms of economic and social development. 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' gives a give a good description of Afghanistan’s social landscape under extreme Islamic law – that is if you want to consider my reading list. 

Hudud law if left unattended in the hand of the extremists would oppress women. In Pakistan, one Zafran Bibi was raped, but a Pakistan judge decided it was adultery – the young mother who was nursing her baby behind bars was sentenced to death by stoning. Bowing to public uproar and wide international media coverage, the sentence was subsequently reversed by the appellate court. Now is this what you have in mind, PAS? 

Hudud has never been included in the Pakatan’s Buku Jingga, nor it is it stated in their 2008’s manifesto. PAS unrealistic dream in implementing hudud is what the Malay proverbs says, ‘Seperti anjing menyalak bukit.’ You know what that means. 

The element of deterrence that PAS is looking for by enforcing hudud against criminals can be achieved via other effective forms such as counseling, positive support from the community and government institutions. Besides, haven’t you heard that instilling fear is rarely effective in solving any problem at all? 

Pakatan’s marriage of convenience has proved impotent in finding a consensus to come up with decision on the recent Merdeka theme, let alone on weighty issues like hudud. 

So why do I say that hudud will be the death knell for Pakatan’s coalition? The answer is simple: history.

PAS has never faltered: it has always been steadfast - adamant to the point of being annoying - in wanting to make hudud law a reality if Pakatan ever takes over Putrajaya.

DAP, on the other hand, has been equally steadfast, consistent and adamant in rejecting the ideology. I have never heard Karpal contradict himself when talking about or issuing statements relating to hudud. 

You know what will happen to a coalition without a common and uniform political agenda? They will file for divorce. 

History has proven that DAP and PAS suffer from irreconcilable differences. The previous attempt of DAP and PAS to form an alliance fell asunder ahead of 1999 general election. Barisan Alternatif died an untimely death solely on failure to achieve agreement on hudud. 

Is it a wonder if DAP and PAS calls it quits again this time around? When history repeats itself and you think your vote for them still matters, you need to look at the broader picture once again: it has always been about them, NOT you, dear voters.

My comments : Firstly there is no such thing as the Law of Hudud or Hudud Law in the Quran. Somehow Allah Almighty forgot to mention it so in the Quran.  Therefore for PAS to say that their ideas on hudud represent 'Allah's Laws' has to be established by them.

Secondly Elviza lists six elements of PAS' hudud.  They are :

1. Theft - amputation of the hand; 
2. illicit sexual relations - death by stoning or one hundred lashes (depending on marital status); 
3. accusations of illicit sex - eighty lashes; 
4. drinking alcohol - eighty lashes; 
5. apostasy - death or banishment; and 
6. highway robbery - death. 

Let us make it clear straight away that 

i.    death by stoning for anything 
ii.   punishment for drinking alchohol
iii.  death or banishment for apostasy
iv. death for highway robbery

are just not mentioned in the Quran at all. Hence for a certainty this is not the Hudud Of Allah. I say this because the words 'these are the Hudud of Allah' or 'Tilka hududullah' are found mentioned many times in the Quran. 

But again, somehow, Allah forgot to mention in the Quran the four punishments above that are found in the PAS' version of hudud as the 'Hudud of Allah'.  Isnt this strange?

The so called "amputation" of the hand for stealing can be argued. And to be precise,  in the Quran the whipping of 80 lashes  is reserved specifically for accusations against women only. Men are not covered. And the accusation against women is NOT limited to illicit sex only. It is wide ranging, accusing any chaste woman of indecency can be punished by 80 lashes. For the lack of a better word, the Quran is therefore very sexist here - the women's rights are protected more.

The hudud of PAS of course differs from State to State. The hudud of PAS in Terengganu was different from the hudud of PAS in Kelantan. The hudud of the Taliban may be different also. In the Taliban version, homosexuals are killed by dropping a wall over them. In Iran, homosexuals are killed by dropping them from a high place. When there were no mountain cliffs, they have used a helicopter before. This cannot be 'God's Law'. How can 'one God' have so many versions of "God's laws"?

Even to catch a thief. the hudud differs in its details. Some sects among the Sunnis differ in what amount of theft is punishable by hudud. If someone steals a pisang goreng is it punishable by cutting the hands? What is the value of an item before the judge can order the hands to be cut off? Again the hudud differs among the different sects. 

The Shias say that only some fingers of the right hand should be cut and not the hands at the wrist. 

This is further evidence that it cannot be "God's Law". We would expect that something known as "God's Law" would be perfect and consistent. The hudud of PAS is not perfect and neither is it consistent.  

In cases where the hudud has no provisos, the court can opt for takzir punishments. Takzir punishments are not from Allah either. They are the court's own punishment. Takzir is man made punishment. 

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