In 1988, the Federal Constitution was amended to introduce a new Article 121 (1A).
The whys and wherefores for this amendment will have to be left to be discussed another day. Suffice to say for now that at the time the Bill was debated in Parliament, both Kit Siang and Karpal were in detention under the ISA following the infamous Ops Lalang.
The amendment was bull dozed through Parliament with hardly any debate.
Seemingly innocuous, Article 121(1A) provided that the civil courts would have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.
It did not confer any jurisdiction on the Syariah courts.
It did not elevate the status of the Syariah courts beyond that which it had before the introduction of Article 121(1A).
Today, the very opposite is held by judges of both the civil and the syariah courts.
Whether Mahathir and then AG Abu Talib Othman intended this development, only they can answer.
In September, 2001, Mahathir declared Malaysia an Islamic country, whatever that might mean.
Non-Muslims, in hushed tones, whispered that this was a stance by Mahathir to counter PAS’s ‘Islamic state’ mantra and that therefore, non-Muslims should not get involved.
Muslims who were concerned at the implications of this declaration, chose to remain silent for reasons known best to themselves.
Today, we have Hadi’s Hudud Bill in Parliament again.
Malaysiakini reports that respected Emory University religion and law professor Professor Abdullahi A An Na’im said there are no hudud provisions in the Quran.
I think what the eminent professor meant was that there are no hudud provisions in the Quran that relate to punishment, as contended by PAS and others.
If this was what he meant, I fully agree with the professor.
So where, then, does the Hudud of PAS spring from?
I reproduce here what I had written previously on this matter.
I am illiterate in the Arabic language.
The prophet, though, being Arab, obviously understood the language.
So over the last 25 years, my task has been to try and overcome this handicap and to discover for myself, firstly, if indeed the text of the Holy Qur’an is divine and, if so, what my God would have me do in the course of my existence here.
This has entailed the use of more than 2 dozen translations, lexicons, concordances, transliterations, commentaries and many hundreds of hours of discussions with like-minded individuals desiring to understand Islam for themselves.
Whilst my quest to understand the Holy Qur’an continues to this day, and will probably continue to the day my children lower me into my grave, today, I am left without any doubt whatsoever that the Holy Qur’an was divinely revealed to a man in the Arab peninsula as a guide for all mankind.
As I endeavour to share with you what I have come to understand, I remind myself, and make plain to you, that I could be wrong in that understanding.
Only God has perfect knowledge of all things. We mortals err in all things.
I therefore stand to be corrected with what I am about to say here.
Yes, God speaks of Hudud in the Holy Qur’an.
Unless my research fails me, the word ‘Hudud’ appears 14 times in all in the Holy Qur’an, mainly in relation to the matter of the fast, inheritance, and divorce and conduct with women. See Surah 2 verses 187, 229 and 230, Surah 4 verses 13 and 14, Surah 58 verse 4 and Surah 65 verse 1.
Essentially, these verses lay out do’s and dont’s and then culminate with a “these are the hudud ( limits ) set by God”.
Consistently with the context in which the word appears all 14 times, ‘hudud’ bears only one meaning : limits.
The remaining 2 instances where the word “Hudud” appears is in Surah 9 verses 97 and 112.
In verse 97, God alludes to the desert Arabs who are unbelievers and hypocritical and who are oblivious or unperturbed by His limits ( Hudud ). God then also refers to some other desert Arabs who believe, so making a distinction between the two differing groups. In verse 101, God warns of a harrowing doom that awaits the former, and then, in the very next verse, leaves a way open for those who may repent their ways.
This is what God says of Hudud in the Holy Qur’an.
The Holy Qur’an is replete with verses that enjoin us to forgive the wrongdoer.
I share here two that have been defining for me.
“Tell those who have believed to forgive those who expect not the days of God so that He may recompense a people for what they used to earn.” – Surah 45 verse 14.
“And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever forgives and rehabilitates, his reward is from God. Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers. If one avenges himself after he has been wronged, there is no blame on him. Blame lies on those who oppress, and terrorise the land unjustly. Those will have a painful punishment. But he who bears with patience and forgiveness, surely complies with divine resolve.” – Surah 42 verses 40 – 43.
If you have an ounce of compassion in you, such that you could not move yourself to cut off the hand of the thief, or flog the adulteress a 100 lashes, God has paved a way for you.
If, on the other hand, you are determined to enforce the law to its very letter, understand that as you judge today, so, you, too, will be judged strictly by the law one day, without an iota of compassion.
Live by the sword today, and be prepared to die by the same.
At a hudud forum at the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on 2nd May, 2014, my friend, MP for Sepang, Hanipah Maidin, one of the speakers that night, emphatically asserted that in Islam, punishment of the thief, male or female, was an imperative.
Cut off the hand, he said.
That, then, is his hudud.
Possibly that of PAS, too.