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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Painting the man-made as Divine... Who, dude?

The biggest misconception that is today being propagated: the "hudud" that the Islamists in Malaysia are so keen on unleashing are divine laws verbatim. Well, they're not.

They may have their basis in revelation, but what we have today are human interpretations, containing human alterations, and therefore are as man-made as the civil laws that these Islamists are so gung-ho to replace.

Many cite "hudud" and then point to Saudi as a prime example where there are very few rapes. But does this reflect the truth? Could it be that the stringent conditions for reporting such cases, potentially put the victim at risk of herself being prosecuted for adultery, makes it less than ideal to report the crime in the first place?

The article from The Nut Graph below delves into "hudud" and raises some very pertinent questions. What's clipped below is just a portion of it, and do click on the links provided below to read the article in full.

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(pic of crescent moon in Sabah © dcubillas |

IF we were to believe everything the politicians are saying about hudud, we would come to three conclusions. One, that implementing the punishments prescribed under hudud is divine law that no Muslim can question, and hence is inevitable. Two, that hudud cannot be implemented in Malaysia because of the Federal Constitution and our multi-cultural composition. And three, non-Muslims have no business worrying about this Islamic penal code.

Are any of these assumptions about hudud accurate? Beyond that, what are the proclamations by PAS, Umno and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) politicians regarding hudud really all about?

Hudud: Divine or man-made?

When a Muslim says he or she has to uphold hudud, one needs to ask which hudud do they mean? The truth is, hudud as we know it today is human-made and therefore changeable and contestable.

For example, how many of us know that the Quran prescribes punishment for only four types of crimes — theft, robbery, adultery and slanderous accusation of adultery? And that classical jurists, i.e. men, expanded it to six, and in the 2002 Terengganu hudud and qisas legislation, it was expanded, again by men, to seven.

Three crimes that are today punishable under hudud — apostasy, consumption of alcohol and treason/armed rebellion — are not provided for under hudud in the Quran. Neither is the punishment of stoning for adulterers prescribed in the Quran. And neither, by the way, is death for apostasy.

What else about hudud as we know it today is based on human understanding and interpretation, and not divine authority?