Great article written by Ahmad Soffian. Please read and share. We need more young Malays to speak up like him.
BITING THE SHARIA BULLET
Malaysians are divided in reacting towards the Sharia law issue which has become headline news for the past few weeks. Even the Muslim Malaysian majority is split as not all Muslims supports the notion of giving more power to the Sharia Court and the Malaysian Sharia legal system.
Even if it is not hudud that is being tabled at the Parliament, the mere thought of giving more power to the Sharia Court send chills down our spine. Should more powers given to a system that is currently being heavily criticised not only by non-Muslims but also by Muslims alike?
It is a well-known notion that the Malaysian Sharia law caters to the judicial provisions that only applies to Muslims. As small as it may be, the Sharia courts have their jurisdiction in personal law matters, such as marriage, inheritance, adherence to the Sunni-Islamic Shafi’i School teachings and apostasy.
Unlike the federal court system that is unified under the Malaysian legal system, the Sharia Courts are tools for individual states. It seems that over the years, the Sharia legal system has been trying its best to encroach other parts of the law and unleashed its power not only towards private but also public matters.
Somehow, the duality of our judicial system (civil and sharia courts) creates a paradox that usually cause mass confusion and the abandonment of the values laid down by the Malaysian constitution. To say that the Sharia legal enclave only effects Muslims is truly a misguided thought. There are a lot of cases where non-Muslims are effected in Sharia cases.
As non-Muslims do not have any right in the Sharia courts, when they brought the matter to the civil court, they are then faced with the amended clause in the constitution that says the civil court does not have any jurisdiction over the Sharia court (refer the Malaysian Federal Constitution Article 121 (1A).
Personal liberties of Malaysian Muslims are also at stake. Giving more power to Sharia law means more personal rights will be infringed. It seems that we have forgotten that most Islamic laws and regulations are personal limitations that are imposed by God to a person and not laws that must be enforced by any government.
Personal sins are not crimes
Personal sins are not crimes that must be punished by imposing ridiculous amount of fines, jail time or even whipping. What we are doing now strays far from what Prophet Muhammad and his companions did.
For example, in the days of the prophet and his companions there was never any anti-vice operation (operasi cegah maksiat) that is frequently done by our local Islamic enforcers. Never once did the prophet go to Muslim houses and did a spot check whether they did any sins or not.
Unlike our state Islamic authorities which do not have any problem infringing personal space, even with the use of force to kick open any premises to seek and charge Muslims over their personal sins.
Now in Kelantan, women are subjected to Sharia enforcement regarding the clothes that they wear. There is no record of such acts being permitted in Islam even in the times of the Sahaba or the Caliphate. It seems that the Kelantan government is copying what has been done by the likes of extremist such as the Taliban.
It is empirical that we tell the government and the small minority of Malaysians who think that personal sin should be punished publicly, that their views and understanding of Islam is fundamentally distorted. Whatever agenda that they pursue is not from Islam and any teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. They also need to understand that Malaysia is a secular country albeit our adherence to the fact that Islam is the religion of the Federation of Malaysia.
Muslim religious scholars should not demonise secularism as it is also the pillar that upholds the people of this country regardless of our faiths. Secularism should be celebrated and not be scorned upon especially when dealings with matters that concerns not only the Muslim but also the non-Muslims in Malaysia.
Yes, we should uphold the sanctity of Islam, however, we must also uphold the civil liberties that has been bestowed upon each and every Malaysians so that no laws that is against the Federal Constitution of Malaysia shall be imposed on us.
Let those who commit personal sins be brought to justice in the eyes of God. There is no room for religious bigots, extremist, chauvinist and racist of any ideologies in our Malaysia.
AHMAD SOFFIAN MOHD SHARIFF is executive secretary, Shah Alam Welfare Association.