I refer to Malaysiakini’s news article ‘Dewan Ulama wants Pakatan alliance reviewed’, in which we learnt of PAS’ intent to assess whether there has been genuine progress in the tahaluf siyasi or political consensus in Pakatan, which incidentally left me wondering whether there is a Bahasa word for the Arabic term tahaluf siyasi?

Further reading on the tahaluf siyasi has indicated that PAS has far-reaching expectations beyond mere political cooperation among coalition members, that of requiring Pakatan-held states like Penang, Selangor and Kelantan to implement hudud laws within those states.

While understanding PAS’ keenness to implement hudud in Kelantan, I am deeply concerned by the Islamic party’s expectation that Penang and Selangor are to follow suit. And there is no mistaking this as its information chief, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, has stated this very clearly.

Already we have had glimpses of PAS’ value system in the recent threat by its Penang deputy commissioner Muhammad Fauzi Yusoff for the party to withdraw from the state coalition if certain conditions were not met.

Two examples of those conditions have been that PAS and not the state exco, the voice of the Penang people, will have sole control of (a) appointments to the state religious council (MAIPP), as well as board directors in agencies and subsidiaries under the council, and (b) appointments of Village Security and Development Committees (JKKK) members in the six state and two parliamentary constituencies in Penang contested by the party, regardless of whether those constituencies are held by PAS.

The above demands coupled with PAS ulama faction’s proposal to leave the top three party positions for only ulama indicate that the party’s ulama do not understand both democracy and coalition cooperation when it boils down to holding posts of power. I am beginning to speculate what will PAS do to general elections if it comes into federal power?

PAS’ intention to implement hudud even in states like Penang and Selangor shows at best, a deeply religious fervor or, in reality, an unbridled arrogance that is terrifying when one can remember that in a hudud legal system, the ulama will reign supreme as unquestionable, unchallengeable and unaccountable overlords with the powers to prosecute and persecute, punish and prohibit at will.

PAS has of course claimed that hudud will reduce if not eliminate crimes, perhaps a la the Japanese occupation when the dreaded Kempeitai policed Malaya?

Just last year, the Islamic Republic of Iran executed 1,663 people, followed in numbers of execution by other Islamic states like Saudi Arabia with 423 people, Iraq with 256, Pakistan 171, and Yemen 152.

Their respective executions all exceeded even that of the draconian dictatorship of North Korea, whose state executions numbered 105.

Obviously hudud in those Islamic nations hasn’t done much at all to quell crimes, or if it has, then those executed were not criminals.

I’ve read that under hudud, in cases of adultery a woman’s pregnancy could be evidence of that crime. What happens when a woman has been the raped victim and then becomes pregnant?

Victim ordered flogged

If anyone believes my question is ridiculous, just recall that in 2007 in Saudi Arabia, a 19-year old Shiite woman who reported she was raped was penalised with 90 lashes because prior to the rape, she was with a man to retrieve her photo from him. They were then set upon by seven other men who sexually abused both of them.

That was the hudud system in action, where instead of dealing with the horrendous crime of rape, the judges wanted the rape victim flogged for being with a man.

She then appealed, no doubt unsuccessfully, but the outcome of the appeal saw her sentence increased to six months jail and 200 lashes. The judges claimed she attempted to influence the judiciary by the ensuing publicity.

Just how in the world did those cleric-judges determine she was guilty of the ensuing publicity, when the media was attracted in the first place by the initial punishment of 90 lashes for a rape victim?

Now this was the most shockingly notorious part of the rape trial. The court ruled it was the girl's fault in the first place that she was raped, and that the rape would not have happened if she had not met with the non-related male friend. The judges failed to mentioned it was not her male friend who raped her but seven other men.

The judges’ appalling atrocious ruling reminds me of a similar misogynist remark by Abdul Fatah Harun, former PAS MP for Rantau Panjang, who told Parliament in 2006 that “If we see women who don’t have husbands and are divorced not because their husbands are dead, (it must be because) they are ‘gatal sikit’.” 

But wait, there’s more. Apparently a rape conviction carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, but the court did not impose it for those seven rapists because, according to the amazing court, there was the ‘lack of witnesses’ and the ‘absence of confessions’.

I wonder whether the coincidence that the victim belongs to Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiite community, while the rapists have been all Sunnis, had anything to do with the syariah court’s ruling?

Alas, given such unbelievably disturbing standards of jurisprudence, I am forced into suspecting our PAS people and those Saudi syariah court judges could be sharing similar values vis-à-vis women and minorities.

Continuing with the Saudi rape trial, the victim’s husband told Arab News they would appeal (again), but the court warned that the sentence could be increased if she lost the appeal again.

Wasn’t it shockingly hideous for the court to threaten that the rape victim’s sentence could be increased if she loses the appeal? What did it mean for syariah laws?

It would seem those clerics had misused the laws of God vindictively and maliciously rather than justly.

Laden with human prejudices

Remember, Saudi Arabia is the land of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, but we mustn’t blame the laws of Allah swt just because that court in supposedly dispensing out justice in accordance with those divine laws, could yet make misogynist and threatening comments, because those so-called cleric-judges were laden with their inherent human prejudices, weaknesses, failings and self-interests.

And that’s precisely my worries about syariah law, more so hudud, when it won’t be administered by Allah swt Himself but by such clerics who have shown that they are not only unquestionable, unchallengeable and totally unaccountable, but unable to fairly and impartially dispense out the divine laws of Allah swt.

Thus for us to accept a theocratic state (of any religion) where we leave justice and its punishment system completely in the hands of those unquestionable, unchallengeable and unaccountable priests, monks, and mullahs would produce the most frightening unjust system, one of perpetual terror a la Maximilien Robespierre’s 18th century France. 

Such a system in the past was exploited by unscrupulous clerics of many religions, all in the name of their respective god. There is no doubt that it will again be, for that is human nature.

Today there is not one Islamic nation that has shown itself to be a shining example to the world in terms of exemplary justice. For example, last year in syariah-hudud governed Pakistan a man and his wife poured acid on their daughter’s face and body, yes their own daughter, because she had talked with a boy.

The local doctor who examined her corpse said, “There were third-degree burns on her scalp, face, eyes, nostrils, both arms, chest foot and lower part of legs. Even her scalp bone was exposed.”

And the cowardly parents didn’t even have the ‘honour’ to admit to their ‘honour killing’, lying through their teeth that their daughter had committed an un-Islamic suicide.

Then there was the most infamous case of the so-called revenge rape in 2005 where Mukhtaran Mai (or Bibi) was gang raped by another clan on fabricated accusations that her 12-year old brother had sex with a 30-year old woman from that clan. In fact the sub-teenage brother was already sodomized by men from there.

The Pakistani authorities initially took no action until international pressure forced them to. The rapists were arrested with six sentenced to death, but subsequently, in that syariah-ruled land, were all released by the Pakistani High Courts due to ‘lack of evidence’. And to add insult to injury, the Pakistani government banned Mukhtaran Mai from leaving Pakistan to attend an Amnesty International forum in the USA.

Defensive arguments

The usual defensive arguments by some Malaysians have been that the oxymoronic ‘honour killings’ or revenge rapes had nothing to do with Islam or syariah or hudud, and were local tribal customs in Pakistan.

But tribal or not tribal custom, we need to point out those Pakistani and Saudi cases all took place under the umbrella of syariah jurisprudence, proving consistently and beyond any doubt that Islamic law per se is no guarantee for justice or a crime-free society, and could even be argued on the basis of records that it has shown it is far less effective that secular civil legal systems.

It is not because the laws of Allah swt is not perfect but fundamentally, because His Muslim cleric-judges most certainly haven’t been, aren’t nor will be. 

Thus I rather believe that our only defence against the insidious subversion of God’s laws into an unacceptable clerical-centred ‘God only proposes but it’s Man (the cleric) who disposes’ has to be the strengthening, upholding and non-negotiable protection of the secular constitution and the civil courts (warts and all).