‘Secular laws more Islamic’

KUALA LUMPUR: Secular laws are more Islamic than the hudud proposed by PAS, lawyer and activist Siti Kasim (pix) said.

Speaking her mind on how the proposed amendments to the syariah will have many implications on society, she cautioned the Muslim community against being misled in the name of religion.

"Islam does not say that you must be governed by Islamic law. Islamic law is about justice and compassion.

"Secular laws are Islamic as it is about justice and compassion; in fact more Islamic than the hudud suggested by 'Islamofascists'," she told theSun, referring to the religious bodies and leaders, including PAS.

Repeatedly saying that Malaysia does not need hudud, Siti said in civil law those above 50 will be spared the cane but in Islamic law whipping is regardless of age for offenders.

"People will say I don't know the Islamic way of caning, but have you seen the videos?"

The 53-year-old human rights advocate, who recently caught the limelight for her controversial "middle-finger" episode after being heckled at a forum discussing the syariah, called for more open and professional discussions on the subject.

"I want Malays to wake up. Don't say this is God's law so we cannot go against it.

"Let's pressure the mullahs and ulamas or ustaz – they are not the only ones who can speak about Islamic law. Open up discussions, debates and share views with those interested," Siti said.

Challenging PAS to hold an open discussion on Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts Criminal Jurisdiction (Act 355), she said the Malays must realise how serious this amendment is.

"This is what PAS has been lying to us, they are not being Islamic at all, they are not being honest with Malays.

"They are not being truthful with their conduct," she said.

Siti said it is the lack of knowledge, ignorance and fear that has made many Muslims in the country to conform to the implementation of "Islamic policies".

"I know of my own friends, too, who fear expressing views on Islam as they would become murtad (apostacised), which of course is not the case. When you don't understand, you may fear," she said.

"Can you give me one country in the world that implements hudud and is successful in terms of economy, society, human rights welfare and so on?" she said.

She added that the provisions of hudud in Kelantan will discriminate against women while others will face many restrictions to their current lifestyle.

Punishment under hudud?

She said hudud in the Quran is mentioned only six times and it is all about "had" (limit) and nothing about these punishments that are widely being talked about.

It is misinterpreted she claimed.

"This argument of what is hudud and what is not hudud will never end. They will disagree with me totally and I will disagree with them totally."

Siti related the act of cutting off hands for example which is mentioned in the Quran.

However, she said the Arabic word used in the Quran to refer to cutting hands is eqta'u, which is "cutting to mark" and not to "cut\off" as widely interpreted.

"You need to see the whole of the Quran to see how that particular word is mentioned. In the context of the situation, the word eqta'u, which is the command from the word qata'aa, has been wrongly interpreted by the traditional scholars to mean 'to sever'.

"But the word 'sever' in Arabic is batara and not qata'aa. The word 'cut' can mean sever or cut off and can also mean to cause a cut or wound.

"So the punishment enforced in some Islamic countries for the crime of theft is based on the wrong interpretation. That is one example of how the Arabic word can become so dire from cut to mark a person's hand to become cut off."

Siti goes on to question how a repentant thief will survive with his limbs cut off under such punishment.

"In the case of Hadi's law, the first offence entails cutting hand, second, cutting leg – how many times do you want to cut a person? Until all his limbs are gone?"

Islam and politics

She blamed jailed Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the creeping Islamisation in the country, stating that he brought in strong Islamic teachings in schools.

"What we see now is the product of that. Islam is not like how PAS or Hadi portrays it; this kind of people are destroying Islam," Siti said.

Stressing that hudud is being used as a political tool, she said it is a way "to control society".