The age of secularism


Hell, if you want to implement Hudud in England then 36 million British citizens would need to be put to death for no longer believing in God and the remaining 20 million of the 36 million will need to be put to death for ‘illegal sex’.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

There was a hue and cry yesterday when it was reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron had said that the UK is a Christian country. It was the top news on TV alongside the news of the possible sacking of Manchester United’s manager only one year into his five-year contract. Hence both the top news yesterday was regarding religion.

It was further reported that only about 50% of the British population admitted to having a religion plus only 2% of the people still go to church. As what one of my friends, a staunch Christian, told me a couple of years ago, England is a godless society. Hence the British resent Britain being called a Christian country. They want the country to be recognised as a secular country with a plural society.

So, when you talk about the UK, you must talk in terms of secularism and pluralism. Hence, when there was a protest last week regarding Muslims infiltrating UK schools with their fundamentalist Islamic teachings, this was not at all an anti-Islam thing. They would whack the Christians as much as they would whack the Muslims when it comes to imposing your religious values on others.

Can you imagine Malaysians, Malays or Muslims in particular, whacking any Malaysian politician who makes a statement saying that Malaysia is a Muslim country? Yet we hear this statement every day. Is Malaysia a Muslim country? The Federal Constitution of Malaysia says that the religion of the Federation is Islam. Does that translate into Malaysia is a Muslim country? Or is Malaysia a secular country?

This appears to be the grey area that no one has addressed yet. I think Parliament needs to first address this issue. We need to make this declaration very clear and in a very loud voice. Is Malaysia a secular country or is Malaysia a Muslim country notwithstanding the fact that Islam is the religion of the Federation?

English is the language of Malaysia Today. That does not mean, however, that Bahasa Malaysia cannot be used in Malaysia Today. And for sure that does not make Malaysia Today an English website. It is a Malaysian website that talks about social and political issues — religion and the economy also part of this discussion since religion and the economy play a big part of Malaysia’s political and social scene.

Here we are discussing the Islamic Sharia laws of Hudud. One party wants it to be included in the Malaysian criminal law system and the other does not. But are we discussing this matter in the context of the legal system or in the context of religion?

Those who defend Hudud and want it to become part of Malaysia’s legal system are looking at it from the religious point of view. These are God’s laws, they argue, and as Muslims it is our duty to implement God’s laws. Those who oppose it are looking at it from the point of view of the legal system. We already have laws to punish criminals and what constitute crimes has already been clearly defined. So why do we need more laws?

In matters of rape (statutory rape included), physical attacks (whether it results in injury or not), murder, robbery, housebreaking, stealing (shop lifting included), corruption (both giver and receiver), fraud, cheating, armed rebellion, in fact, any manner of crimes both violent and non-violent, there are already laws to punish these wrongdoers. It is only that Hudud stipulates a different form of punishment. Hence it is only how we punish these wrongdoers that is the issue. Hence, also, do we need Hudud when it is only the sentence or punishment that is the issue while what constitutes a crime is not in conflict?

Hudud, however, also addresses issues of morality and under Hudud immorality becomes a crime. This is what many are not too happy about. We already have Sharia laws that can be used against Muslims who drink, gamble, eat and drink during the month of Ramadan when they should be fasting, have sex with someone who they are not married to, and so on. But the punishment under the Sharia laws are not as severe as they would be if under Hudud.

This is the issue here. While certain conduct concerning immorality is already a crime for Muslims, the punishment is considered lenient. Under Hudud, the punishment would be more severe. And apostasy, also officially not allowed in Malaysia (meaning for Muslims who want to leave Islam) and the government will make it very difficult for you if you want to openly leave Islam, you can still leave Islam if you really want to and you will not be severely punished (such as the death sentence) although the government can make your life miserable and at times even detain you and send you for rehabilitation.

So, while ‘normal’ criminal laws address the wrongs you do to society, Hudud criminal laws address the wrongs you do to God. These are crimes against God. You break God’s ‘Ten Commandments’, so to speak, and you will get punished. You not only must not hurt society. You must also not ‘hurt’ God. And if you do you will get severely punished.

So, this brings us back to our earlier discussion. Do we already have enough laws to punish criminals? If not then what crimes are not yet covered under the existing laws?

Is the punishment under the existing laws good enough or severe enough? If not then how can we make the punishment more severe?

Should crimes against God or issues of immorality be made into crimes? If so then what immoral conduct should we now consider a crime?

For example, any activity whatsoever involving liquor is a crime, not just the drinking of liquor. Under these new laws of Hudud that we are talking about, will those Malays who approve the liquor licence get arrested since they are collaborators? What about the Malay staff and Directors of restaurants, hotels, airline companies, trading companies, etc., that sell or serve liquor (Pernas, MAS, etc.)? Will these ‘criminals’ also get arrested and punished?

Riba’ or usury is haram (forbidden). Some ulama’ say that the sin of usury is the same as the sin of sex with your own parent. Would the Malay staff and Directors of banks, finance companies, credit-card companies, etc., be arrested and punished for usury?

It appears that the focus of Hudud is just on sex and apostasy. This appears to be the main concern of the promoters of Hudud. They make it look like Islam is only concerned about sex and about those who leave Islam. But this is only one small aspect of Islam. If you talk about immorality and crimes against God then the list is extremely long. Why are we not also talking about all these other crimes?

Debt slavery is a very serious problem all over the world. It allows the rich to oppress the poor. Monopolies are a very serious problem as well. It allows those who hold these monopolies to exploit the consumers. The gap between the rich and poor is getting wider the world over. The quality of life is deteriorating rapidly and in time to come we are going to see class wars erupt everywhere when the have-nots rise against the haves.

And with all these problems ahead of us we are more concerned about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms or whether they still believe in God or not? What type of people did we vote into Parliament? Here we are screaming about CHANGE or UBAH and the people we entrusted to represent us in Parliament want to punish us for having sex with an ‘illegal’ partner and for no longer believing in God?

Hell, if you want to implement Hudud in England then 36 million British citizens would need to be put to death for no longer believing in God and the remaining 20 million of the 36 million will need to be put to death for ‘illegal sex’.