Medical Personnel for Hudud

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Muslims have the right to be governed by the Shari’ah and we reiterate that Islamic jurisprudence concerns only Muslims. The least that IMAM ask of others is to reciprocate this respect and not to denigrate Islam and the Shari’ah.

Prof Dato’ Dr Abd Rahim bin Mohamad, President of IMAM

The polemics on the implementation of Hudud as espoused by the Kelantan State Government has yet again acquired centre stage. This time around the medical fraternity has been implicated when it was proposed that doctors would be directly involved in the execution of the amputation of the convicted Muslim’s limb.

The president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has taken the liberty of issuing a statement which by the way is the domain and prerogative of the Director General of Health Malaysia when he said, “All qualified doctors and nurses fall under the jurisdiction of the Health Ministry and do not need to listen to state orders.” His lack of sensitivity, respect and decorum is further exemplified when he suggested alternatives, “These include engaging the services of butchers to cut off body parts of Hudud transgressors or just using an axe.” (The Malaysian Insider, 25 April 2014). This shameful and reprehensive behaviour is most unbecoming of the president of the Malaysian Medical Association.

Taking serious cognisance of these recent developments, Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia as the national association of Muslim doctors in Malaysia notes:

1. Islam is a complete way of life encompassing life mundane and spiritual, life here and the hereafter. It is not just a set of rituals as often misunderstood but the holistic observation and practice of every aspect of human activity, including economics, business, education, politics, and health etc.

2. The corpus of Islamic jurisprudence includes Hudud laws, which only addresses serious criminal acts namely thievery, homicide and illicit sexual relations. Such abominable acts of crime are universally abhorred and despised by human society without exception.

3. Hudud is a deeply complex legal matter which has attracted comments often reflecting the naivety and ignorance of many writers and commentators. The process of conviction is both laborious and excessively stringent to ensure mercy, justice and communal benefits is always protected and preserved. Thus the paucity of Hudud cases during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and his rightly guided Caliphs. This is best exemplified in the following authentic narration; “There came to him (the Holy Prophet) a woman from Ghamid and said: Allah’s Messenger, I have committed adultery, so purify me”. He (the Holy Prophet) turned her away. On the following day she said: “Allah’s Messenger, Why do you turn me away? Perhaps, you turn me away as you turned away Ma’iz. By Allah, I have become pregnant.” He said: “Well, if you insist upon it, then go away until you give birth to (the child).” When she had delivered she came with the child (wrapped) in a rag and said: “Here is the child whom I have given birth to.” He said: “Go away and suckle him until you wean him.”

When she had weaned him, she came to him (the Holy Prophet) with the child who was holding a piece of bread in his hand. She said: “Allah’s Apostle, here is he as I have weaned him and he eats food.” He (the Holy Prophet) entrusted the child to one of the Muslims and then pronounced punishment. And she was put in a ditch up to her chest and he commanded people and they stoned her. Khalid bin Walid came forward with a stone which he flung at her head and there spurted blood on the face of Khalid and so he abused her. Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) heard his (Khalid’s) curse that he had hurried upon her. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: “Khalid, be gentle. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, she has made such a repentance that even if a wrongful tax-collector were to repent, he would have been forgiven.” Then giving command regarding her, he prayed over her and she was buried.” (Sahih Muslim. Book 17 No 4206)

4. The Maqasid as-Shari’ah (objectives and priorities of the Islamic jurisprudence) embraces and preserves mercy, justice and maslahah ammah (public interest). The Shari’ah courts are mandated to implement the laws without fear or favour. This is reflected in Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) warnings when he said; “Do you intercede regarding one of the penalties prescribed by Allah?” He then stood up and addressed (people) saying: “O people, those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if anyone of high rank committed theft among them, they spared him; and if anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed penalty upon him. By Allah, if Fatimah daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off.” (Sahih Muslim. Book 17, Hadith number 3196)

5. Implementation of Hudud as a punishment ordained by Allah is publicly executed as a lesson and deterrent to all. As in all forms of corporal and capital punishment, professional personnel will be appointed to undertake the task. In the context of Hudud punishment as meted by the Shari’ah courts, IMAM believes that similar professionals would be appointed. The practice in Malaysia currently for any capital punishment that involves hanging and whipping, the doctor is present to certify death after hanging and whether the next whipping can proceed pending the convict’s physical well-being. Similarly, current practice in other Muslim country that implement Hudud, mandates that the doctor be present to certify death for those beheaded in cases of murder and in cases punished for theft, the well-being of the convicted person will be assessed by the doctor present during the amputation to arrest bleeding and to preserve his life.

6. As per the Oath of the Muslim Physician, doctors cannot be assigned to undertake the physical amputation in Hudud punishment as there is no medical indication to amputate a normal limb. Doctors, who amputate gangrenous limbs, do so under anesthesia so as not to cause pain. The moral of punishment for Hudud is to inflict pain, fear, remorse and repentance to the convicted as a lesson not to repeat the crime and the public execution is a strong deterrent to similar and future criminal acts. Thus undertaking the amputation under anaesthesia defeats the underlying principle of Hudud. This however is a point of serious contention between the various schools of thought and IMAM is open to other evidence based and Shari’ah compliant opinions which best prescribes the active role of the Muslim physician.

7. Islam perceives religious diversity and plurality as a “Sunnatullah”, the behest of the Al-Mighty. Hence, it respects and celebrates the absolutist doctrines and practises of adherents of other religions. Muslims have the right to be governed by the Shari’ah and we reiterate that Islamic jurisprudence concerns only Muslims. The least that IMAM ask of others is to reciprocate this respect and not to denigrate Islam and the Shari’ah.

Thank you

Prof Dato’ Dr Abd Rahim bin Mohamad
Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM)