Hudud bill: Nothing to do with religion, everything to do with politics

By Shafiqah Othman

“Politics aside! As a Muslim, you have to accept Hudud no matter what! Again, politics aside!”

Every time I say I do not agree with the implementation of Hudud law, I get bombarded with “Dare you deny the law of God?” My faith gets questioned and people start denouncing me of my religion. It is almost as though not agreeing with their stance gives them every right to judge me inside and out, like it makes them more devout than I am, and then they pass judgment onto me as though they know me better than God does. And it does not help either that I do not don the headscarf, apparently adding to my irrelevance when it comes to talking about religion.

Hudud is about politics (Pic from Aliran)

Hudud is about politics

It does not matter how many times you tell them that it is not Hudud that you are against, but its implementation. People will only hear what they want to hear, and only understand what they want to understand. Time and time again, we have Malaysians like Perlis Mufti Dr. Asri, Islamic scholar Dr. Farouk Musa and renowned blogger Syed Akbar, speaking up about the differences between the Hudud that is found in the Quran and the Hudud bill that has been tabled by PAS. I have penned this comparison down on my own blog as well.

No one is denying that Hudud has its basis in the Quran, and that the Quran does contain Hudud (limits) of moral behaviour, specifically 14 times. The problem comes in when man take these limits and codify it into law and also adding to it their own punishable offences. It does not matter if these provisions are still being debated and discussed among scholars, because apparently whatever PAS says, is what Islam wants. More than anything, the Hudud law that they have tabled mirrors more of the Hudood Ordinance 1979 of Pakistan, instead of the Quran.

Hardliners keep telling me to “put politics aside” and embrace Hudud because it is “God’s law”. It does not matter if it will be misused, as long as we carry out our obligation as Muslims to accept this as law of the land. At least, we accept it. You know… “Just in case.” But no, I cannot just put politics aside. Why? Because the Hudud bill has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with politics.

When PAS was allowed to table the bill, it was their democratic right to do so. But where is the democracy when Malaysians are not allowed to question it? More and more people are growing aware that the Hudud bill is not God-ordained and is a compilation of ijtihad (independent reasoning) by Islamic scholars that were raised under different circumstances as compared to our own, yet we are still being told to keep hush. While public discussions and debate are rife within Malaysians, the higher-ups seem to close their ears to them.

It is very obvious that PAS is hiding behind the guise of religion to gain political power. I don’t see how anyone can look past that. They table a bill, and without proper explanation to Malaysians of its provisions, tells the nation that we have to support it or else we are infidels. It is as though after the last general election, PAS realised that they have lost political relevance, thus decided to gain supporters the easiest way they know how: by selling God.

By taking advantage of our culture of ulama leadership, they know they can easily win over the minds of wishy-washy Malaysian Muslims. There are much more important things that the state government of Kelantan has to worry about, such as poverty, homelessness and increasing crime rates, not forgetting finding a solution to solve the yearly floods. Instead they choose to rush into implementing a complexed law of justice without any second thoughts. A lost limb is not something you can easily replace if punishment was handed down wrongly. Or even worse, a lost life. Maybe, just maybe, PAS would be taken more seriously if they had their priorities straightened out and take into consideration the needs of their citizens above their own. And what they need is not Hudud, but a reliable state government. What will it take to make people realize that implementing Hudud law has nothing to do with propagating religion, but everything to do with staying in power?

Law of “justice”. That’s a funny word to use, considering the fact that even though one of the most important tenets of Islam is justice and compassion, these are the exact same virtues that PAS and our religious authorities have failed to uphold time and time again. People always say “If you have done nothing wrong, there is nothing to be afraid of.” I’m afraid it is not as simple as that. Where our religious authorities are always looking for sin, finding faults and making up threats, everyone has a reason to be afraid. The moment you go against their conventional views, you only have to be prepared. We rarely hear them talk about principles. Rather, emphasis is always on modes of punishments. It is clear from here that they are trying to get people to succumb to their ways by scaring them with images of amputation, lashing and stoning, which by the way, are punishments that are still being debated in the Muslim world.

Do I support Hudud? Yes. Do I think that Hudud is divine? Yes.

Do I support the Hudud bill? No. Do I think that Hudud law is divine? No.

I am a Muslim, and it is my legitimate fear that a power-hungry political party will misuse my beloved God’s name in order to garner more support by fear-mongering its people. I am a Muslim, and it is my concern whenever people use my faith for their own selfish gains and personal agendas, especially when it affects the lives of other people. I am a Muslim, and I do not support PAS. Just because they put the label of religion on themselves, it does not make them infallible. They do not represent me, all Muslims, Islam, neither do they represent God.

So, I repeat myself: No, I cannot and will not just “put politics aside”, especially when it is at the expense of my faith.

Shafiqah Othman is an activist and has worked with Sisters in Islam and womens’ rights groups. This article first appeared on her blog at https://sfqomhz.wordpress.com/. Her views do not necessarily represent the views of The Rocket.

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