PAS made the right decision not to table a private member’s bill in the Dewan Rakyat in June to facilitate the implementation of hudud in Kelantan. Its intended move had generated a great deal of tension and would have had serious repercussions for both the Pakatan Rakyat and the Barisan Nasional. It would have undermined the very foundation of the Malaysian Constitution and impacted adversely upon Islamic mores and inter-religious ties in our multi-religious society.

This is the second time that Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has wisely chosen not to proceed with the tabling of a bill on hudud. It is not widely known that in 1999 a few months before the 10th General Election he wanted to table a hudud bill but was dissuaded from doing so by some of us in the then Barisan Alternatif (BA) comprising four opposition parties, namely, PAS, Keadilan, DAP and Parti Rakyat. As BA Coordinator and Keadilan Deputy President at that time, I remember the positive role played by the late PAS President, Dato Fadhil Noor, and PAS Secretary-General, Dato Mustafa Ali, who were both convinced that such a legislative initiative would have dire consequences for the fledgling BA.

Given this background, it would be a pity if after another few years the question of hudud once again grips the nation and pushes us all to the brink of yet another crisis. This is why the Kelantan State Government – Federal Government technical committee that will be established soon to examine hudud should once and for all decide on the wisdom of implementing such a criminal code. It should have the courage and the integrity to distinguish contextual modes of punishment from eternal principles of moral conduct and focus upon the universal values and precepts embodied in the Quran and their relevance in the 21st century. The writings of illustrious Muslim thinkers through the ages who understood the essence of Islam revolving around justice and dignity anchored in God Consciousness should serve as the guiding framework for the committee.

Since the committee, it is reported, will review the 1993 proposal on the enforcement of hudud in Kelantan it should pay close attention to the most comprehensive evaluation of that proposal contained in Professor Hashim Kamali’s book on the Kelantan hudud bill. One hopes Kamali and Islamic jurists from abroad who have studied hudud and sharia in depth will be invited to sit on the committee. It is important that women well versed in Islamic jurisprudence are also included in this exercise.

 

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