Open up dis­cus­sions on PAS bill

> Don’t be hood­winked into sup­port­ing pro­posal, cau­tions lawyer Siti Zabe­dah Kasim

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS - BY KAREN ARUKESAMY

KUALA LUMPUR: Sec­u­lar laws are more Is­lamic than the pro­pos­als put forth by PAS, lawyer and ac­tivist Siti Zabe­dah Kasim said.

Speak­ing her mind on how the pro­posed amend­ments to the Syariah Courts Crim­i­nal Ju­ris­dic­tion (Act 355) will have many im­pli­ca­tions on so­ci­ety, she cau­tioned the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

“Is­lam does not say that you must be gov­erned by Is­lamic law. Is­lamic law is about jus­tice and com­pas­sion.

“Sec­u­lar laws are Is­lamic as it is about jus­tice and com­pas­sion; in fact more Is­lamic than the hudud sug­gested by PAS,” she told theSun.

Re­peat­edly say­ing that Malaysia does not need hudud, Siti said in civil law those above 50 will be spared the cane but in Is­lamic law whip­ping is re­gard­less of age for of­fend­ers.

“Peo­ple will say I don’t know the Is­lamic way of can­ing, but have you seen the videos?”

The 53-year-old hu­man rights ad­vo­cate, who re­cently was in the lime­light for her con­tro­ver­sial “mid­dle-fin­ger” episode af­ter be­ing heck­led at a fo­rum dis­cussing the syariah, called for more open and pro­fes­sional dis­cus­sions on the sub­ject. “I want Malays to wake up. “Don’t say this is God’s law so we can­not go against it.

“Let’s pres­sure the mul­lahs and ula­mas or us­taz – they are not the only ones who can speak about Is­lamic law.

“Open up dis­cus­sions, de­bates and share views with those in­ter­ested,” Siti said.

Chal­leng­ing PAS to hold an open dis­cus­sion on Datuk Seri Ab­dul Hadi Awang’s pro­posed amend­ments to the Syariah Courts Crim­i­nal Ju­ris­dic­tion (Act 355), she said the Malays must re­alise how se­ri­ous this amend­ment is.

“They are not be­ing hon­est with Malays.”

Siti said it is the lack of knowl­edge, ig­no­rance and fear that has made many Mus­lims in the coun­try to con­form to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of “Is­lamic poli­cies”.

“I know of my own friends, too, who fear ex­press­ing views on Is­lam as they would be­come mur­tad (apostacised), which of course is not the case.

“When you don’t un­der­stand, you may fear,” she said.

“Can you give me one coun­try in the world that im­ple­ments hudud and is suc­cess­ful in terms of econ­omy, so­ci­ety, hu­man rights wel­fare and so on?” she said.

She added that the pro­vi­sions of hudud in Ke­lan­tan will dis­crim­i­nate against women while oth­ers will face many re­stric­tions to their cur­rent life­style.

Pun­ish­ment un­der hudud She said hudud in the Qu­ran is men­tioned only six times and it is all about “had” (limit) and noth­ing about th­ese pun­ish­ments that are widely be­ing talked about. It is mis­in­ter­preted she said. “This ar­gu­ment of what is hudud and what is not hudud will never end. They will dis­agree with me to­tally and I will dis­agree with them to­tally.”

Siti re­lated the act of cut­ting off hands for ex­am­ple which is men­tioned in the Qu­ran.

How­ever, she said the Ara­bic word used in the Qu­ran to re­fer to cut­ting hands is eqta’u, which is “cut­ting to mark” and not to “cut off” as widely in­ter­preted.

“You need to see the whole of the Qu­ran to see how that par­tic­u­lar word is men­tioned. In the con­text of the sit­u­a­tion, the word eqta’u, which is the com­mand from the word qata’aa, has been wrongly in­ter­preted by the tra­di­tional schol­ars to mean ‘to sever’.

“But the word ‘sever’ in Ara­bic is batara and not qata’aa. The word ‘cut’ can mean sever or cut off and can also mean to cause a cut or wound.

“So the pun­ish­ment en­forced in some Is­lamic coun­tries for the crime of theft is based on the wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion. That is one ex­am­ple of how the Ara­bic word can be­come so dire from cut to mark a per­son’s hand to be­come cut off.”

Siti goes on to ques­tion how a re­pen­tant thief will sur­vive with his limbs cut off un­der such pun­ish­ment.

“In the case of Hadi’s law, the first of­fence en­tails cut­ting hand, sec­ond, cut­ting leg – how many times do you want to cut a per­son? Un­til all his limbs are gone?”

Is­lam and pol­i­tics She blamed jailed Op­po­si­tion leader Datuk Seri An­war Ibrahim for the creep­ing Is­lami­sa­tion in the coun­try, stat­ing that he brought in strong Is­lamic teach­ings in schools.

“What we see now is the prod­uct of that. Is­lam is not like how PAS or Hadi por­trays it; this kind of peo­ple are de­stroy­ing Is­lam,” Siti said.

Stress­ing that hudud is be­ing used as a po­lit­i­cal tool, she said it is a way “to con­trol so­ci­ety”.

Sec­u­lar laws are Is­lamic as they are about jus­tice and com­pas­sion, ac­cord­ing to Siti Zabe­dah Kasim.

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