‘Malays not ready for hudud’

Incessant politicking, the lack of understanding on hudud and the need for a proper model are all major barriers for the Malays, say the experts.

Alyaa Azhar and Anisah Shukry, FMT

Malays are not ready for hudud in Malaysia, experts said, citing incessant politicking, fear, lack of understanding and the need for a proper model on the Islamic criminal law.

“Mentally and spiritually, Malays are ready for hudud but they need to be more enlightened on the issue and to move away from the shock factor,” said Muhammad Fauzi Asmuni, vice-president II of Islamic NGO Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA).

Hudud is a strict Islamic criminal law famous for resorting to punishing offenders through physical means, including slicing thieves’ hands, stoning adulterers to death and flogging those who consume alcohol.

But Muhammad Fauzi told FMT that only a minority of Malays in Malaysia actually feared the law, and that most had the intention to be governed by Islamic laws.

He said that the fear stemmed from the fact that the people had no proper model to refer to with regard to the implementation of hudud.

“The people need a model because there’s none in front of their eyes, there’s no model that they can hold on to.

“The only thing they see is the Taliban regime, and also how Iran and Saudi Arabia govern their people. This is why the fear towards hudud comes,” he added.

He said that if Malaysian leaders truly wished to implement hudud in Malaysia, they must first allay fears by educating Malaysians on the law.

Politicians are at fault

Meanwhile, Professor Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid of IIUM told FMT that heavy politicking had not only set the nation backwards in terms of implementing the law but was also the reason why many Malays were frightened of hudud.

“If we do not politicise it, we Malays are definitely ready [to implement hudud in Malaysia], but if we were to look at hudud as a political issue, then it becomes a problem,” said the professor from the department of Fiqh and Usul Al Fiqh (Islamic Jurispudence and Roots of Jurispudence).

PAS had long championed the criminal law, despite it not being included in the opposition pact’s common manifesto, and this created a rift between the Islamist party and its political ally, the Chinese-dominated DAP.

Meanwhile, MCA had seen fit to perpetually warn the Chinese community of the “dangers” of hudud should Pakatan come to power – even though PAS had promised that the Islamic criminal law would only be applied to Muslims.

“There is this misunderstanding that hudud is all about cutting hands solely, but in fact hudud is actually a law to prevent people from committing a crime in the first place,” said Mahmood.

“The cutting only comes later on, but that is only for those who actually commit the crime,” he stressed.

He said that while hudud could certainly be implemented now, everything depended on the politicians.