‘Human rightism’ vs religion

Therefore, respect each other’s position, do not interfere in any subject matter that we are not well informed of, or that does not concern our interest. To foster a better understanding and harmonious co-existence, let’s have more dialogues, with open-mindedness.

By Dr. Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad, The Star

THE doctrine of human rights seems to have developed into an ism that has rapidly spread, and been embraced, defended and championed by an increasing number of people beyond ethnic and cultural boundaries worldwide.

This universal human rightism is also perceived by many as an ideology that prevails over national laws and even transcending religions.

For some reasons, conflicts are always portrayed to happen when the values of human rightism are brought against the teachings of Islam.

Such a confrontation either results from a form of discreet campaign to smear Islam out of historical vengeance, fear of the unknown, suspicion and envy, or sheer ignorance and obstinacy of certain quarters to heed to acknowledge the truth.

The drinking case of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno and the punishment meted out by the Syariah Court has been, again, exploited as another occasion where the clash purportedly occurs. It generated tremendous interest from inside and outside the country.

A number of self-appointed individuals and organisations came forward to speak for and against Islam, commenting on its legal and judicial system, and the wisdom of the authorities involved.

On the one side, many would agree with the decision to punish Kartika as a deterrent measure and a lesson to other Muslims.

But in the process, was she being sufficiently advised? Is it justified to impose a maximum whipping punishment on a first offender?

All these must be clearly explained in the written judgment of the judge concerned, if any.

On the other side, I wonder why the Syariah Court looks a bit shaky in handling the issue and appears to succumb to external pressure. Once the decision has been made, though deemed controversial from certain perspectives, the court must stand firm by its judgment.

The caning, despite being questioned, must be carried out.

But when the court somehow retracted or deferred the decision, its integrity is at stake. People are making mockery out of the whole episode.

They query the court’s consistency and ability to deal with such a case and similar situation in the future. Sadly, the perceived failure has denigrated the public confidence of the court, and this has to be remedied.

Let’s turn to the mockers of the case. Some remark that whipping for drinking intoxicating beverages is not there in the Quran. It’s true, but the sources of Islamic law is not confined to the Holy Book alone.

Certain provisions of the Syariah are also derivable from three other authentic sources, namely, the prophetic Traditions, analogy and consensus of jurists.

Once established, after fulfilling certain stringent criterion, that particular provision becomes a text of law which is basically unalterable.