Muslim Professionals Forum on the Hudud Bill

Since the lay public overwhelms the learned in terms of numbers, the great bulk of writings is obviously not of the former type.

Muslim Professionals Forum


1.            When the Hudud Bill was tabled and adopted by the Kelantan State Assembly in 1993, very few had access to the internet and the social media was practically non-existent.  Only professional journalists, subject matter experts and politicians were able to get their views across to the reading public. Also, Malaysian politics then was much less complicated. Today, “everyone can comment” and it will be there in the public domain.

2.            A deeply complex issue like Hudud is bound to elicit comments from its detractors that range from measured criticisms to ones that are hostile and based largely on prejudice.  Since the lay public overwhelms the learned in terms of numbers, the great bulk of writings is obviously not of the former type. This may not have been an intended consequence of freedom of expression and we may not have been prepared for this, but this is the reality that we have to face today.

3.            The failings of Hudud implementation makes for a very newsworthy subject. One need not be surprised by it because that is how some of the media works. However, the weaknesses of Hudud implementation in other parts of the world where it is seen that the severe prescriptions are only for society’s weak and poor while the powerful get away with far greater transgressions serve as a reminder that this is a delicate and difficult task that has to begin with the building of trust and understanding with those who do not subscribe to it. In this context we are reminded of the warnings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he said, “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). Today it is not just the non-Muslims who are opposed to it, Muslims with liberal inclinations are among the most vociferous opponents to the proposed Bill, some for reasons that are not entirely invalid, given the complex nature of Malaysian landscape.

4.            Even after 20 years, that Hudud is regarded by a significant section of society as a spectre that will drive a wedge and drag half the nation to stone age barbarism speaks volumes of our failure to communicate. It also speaks of our penchant for excessive politicking on both sides of the divide that we fail to handle this difficult and sensitive issue in a manner that is above politics.  It may well be that the detractors of the Hudud will never be able to overcome the notion that Hudud can be allowed a place in modern, multi-religious and largely secular Malaysia. There are in place well established institutions, which have in some aspects accommodated the needs of Muslims in regard to Islamic law, but we feel there have not been sufficient efforts in creating an understanding and the gaining of trust on the subject of Shari’ah (Islamic jurisprudence).



1.            Urge the proponents of the Hudud Bill to intensify its efforts to lay the pre-requisite groundwork, to inform the nation of the philosophy and text of the proposed bill and its context in Malaysia where notably among others, crime is an escalating national scourge and the safety and security of its citizens under perpetual threat. Notwithstanding the divine exhortation of the authentic scriptures, it would be an abuse of God’s laws and self-defeating if Hudud is implemented in an ambience of inequity, injustice, lack of freedom, pervasive corruption of state and national institutions and an opaque and incompetent corporate and political governance.

2.            Urge our fellow Malaysian, whether Muslims, adherents of other faiths or atheists to engage on the issue with mutual respect, decorum and sensitivity through discourses and dialogues. The current engagements have fallen far short of the basic norms of civility and the spirit of muhibbah as expounded by the founders of our nation. It nonetheless needs to be emphasized unequivocally that the Hudud Bill is only applicable on Muslims and Muslims alone.

3.            Urge the elected representatives to debate the Bill in Parliament rather than allow the intense political posturings outside it.  Surely a well argued debate is better than prejudiced comments that border on hate speech in cyber space.  It appears that there is a fearful confusion that debating the bill equates passing it.  Rather than creating the comic spectacle of forming a human shield at the Parliament building to block the Bill from being tabled, would  it not create a better impression on our representatives if they could mount well-argued responses and use their powers of persuasion to defeat it?   Do we not value openness and frank debate to resolve major issues in our society?

4.            Urge opponents of the Bill who have suggested that PAS is using this to shore up its declining support among the Malays to immediately realize and recognise that Hudud and the Shari’ah is beyond party politics for the ordinary faithful.  To us, Hudud is a part of Shari’ah, albeit a small one.  Although the detailed intricacies are beyond the grasp of the lay believer, the conviction on the place of Hudud as an integral part of the Shari’ah is grounded in Quranic text and the prophetic traditions.


1.            In an age where the language of Human Rights have crept into our consciousness in a way that was unimaginable 2 decades ago, may be the people of Kelantan should be given the right to be governed with a law which they feel is integral to the practice of their religion.  After all, it is only a small part of the country and it happens that Muslims make up more than 95% of the population.  The most vociferous critique of the Bill, leaders and members DAP, MCA, GERAKAN and Muslims with more liberal persuasions in Kuala Lumpur will be out of its jurisdiction anyway.

2.            Though 20 years too late, the national-level technical committee on Hudud as proposed by the Deputy Prime Minister is laudable. In fact if the proposed Bill gets sufficient votes, the real headache will only just begin, the devil surely being in the details.

3.            To get into public arguments at this stage for example on the role of doctors in carrying out the prescribed punishments seems premature and inappropriate.