Hudud: Sold Out


Mahsa Amiri, The Malaysian Insider

The discussion on Friday, May 2, on hudud in Malaysia at the Chinese Assembly Hall remained in the past of the last week but the waves of excitement are still buzzing in the air. The discussion that gathered at the table of lawyers, representatives of NGOs and of PAS’s lawmaker as an initiator of implementing hudud in Kelantan, brought the feeling of strange alienation.

Somehow there was a feeling that some ideas were virtually imported to public space from another planet, as they do not have solid links to current realities. There would be no objection if somehow this imported product were the Little Prince with his tame Fox from one cute planet in the space, bringing humility, acceptance, harmony, and responsibility for tamed minds with themselves, but this was not the case.

The MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin representing the PAS initiative at the forum surprisingly made a call for observing democratic rights a pivot of his presentation. As people of Kelantan opted for implementation of hudud, it is their democratic right to get the legal reform accomplished, stated the PAS lawmaker.

This call for democracy is seemed somehow selective, since if people once decided to drink alcohol in the streets or allow gay marriages, there would not be such a concern about their wants. Thus, democracy is still appreciated only if its procedures comply with their religious interpretations and regulations. When it does not, liberal democracy is attributed with different ill-favored titles.

It is also tricky to use the democratic mechanism to obtain public consent as an absolute prerequisite for positive outcome in implementing hudud. Hitler, whose birthday by the way marked one of recent days in April, also came to power in a democratic way.

Another thing about him that is worth to recall is that Nazism did not overwhelm public consciousness in one day, it required a period of cultivation in people’s minds. So when one of the participants of the press conference on hudud that was held in the morning of the same day at the Chinese Assembly Hall, noticed that this initiative was probably about ‘testing the water’ of public reaction, I thought that this is already a stage of “cultivating the soil”.

Nobody thought at the beginning that cultivation of anti-Semitic rhetoric would bring mass purges carried on by average people whose consciousness turned to be silenced enough by continuous propaganda.

“We have been selling hudud in Kelantan for more than 20 years and finally sold it”, said Hanipa Maidin. Hardly the divinity that stands behind hudud is a subject to trade. If it is a part of Islamic way of life and people decide to live according to what Allah had ordained, then why was it one of only a few products in the market of Malaysian political Islam?

Probably, because it is a project that can be easier advertised, gaining more coins to PAS’s political saving box. Because there are many other noble works in the path of seeking God’s pleasure, like attaining social justice in the society, disregarding various denominations of its members, and social balance based on the acceptance of “the other”.

Until the world structure offers us the nation state model instead of borderless ummatan wasatan – the middle nation, the united community of Muslims, the best qualities of ummah should be performed on the state level in the first turn, first and foremost, the equal treatment of the other.

The issue of Islamic governance should also precede the talk about implementing hudud if we are going to pursue Islamic way in all realms. If we are devotedly trying to follow the Islamic way of life, it becomes extremely important to define the leader first.

The early history of Islam and four righteous caliphs counts several practices of transferring the power to another person but all of them unanimously state that the leader should be skillful, strong and knowledgeable in matters of leadership – al-qawiyyul amin – strong and trustworthy. Certain consultation with the public in each case attains the necessary legitimacy for the leader.

Then if one is going now to perform Islamic practices in everything, not only in hudud aspect but also in all other angles as well, it will be inevitable to question Malaysian monarchy and parliamentary system too.

Hudud requires justice in the first place that is drawn upon the just ruler. No one, not even the King should be above the law.