Monday, May 5, 2014

The Hudud Laws

There are lot of stuff happening around the world. Things happened so fast, like you won't believe it is happening. From the Russian-Ukrainian standoff, MH470 plane disappearance, Sewol ferry incident, landslide in Afganistan, political turmoil in Syria, Belgium's anti-Semitic hatefest, and many more.

With the whole shitstorms in full swing, one thing caught my eyes. Brunei had adoptend, nay, implemented a new penal law since last week. By 1st May 2014, the new penal law which known as Hudud would be in full effect. There were a lot of reactions regarding on this implementation, within and without of Brunei. The United Nations in particular, condemns the Islamic laws, claiming it to be a direct violation to human rights. Others however, claims that the new penal laws to be outdated and barbaric, because the punishment includes decapitation and flogging.

Frankly speaking, Hudud's punishment is indeed harsh. But then again, what is Hudud? Hudud is a part of the Islamic Penal Laws. There are about 4 categories that encompassed the Islamic Penal Laws. From the lightest to the heaviest, there are , Tazir (Honor), Qisas (Retaliation), Diyya (Blood Money), and finally, Hudud. Hudud is an arabic word that literally translated as 'border', 'limit' or 'restriction'.

It refers to the the bounds of acceptable behavior, and punishments for serious crimes, in accordance to the Islamic Sharia (Islamic Way). These includes theft, adultery, consumption of arrack (intoxicating substances), and apostasy. All of these are considered as capital offense in accordance to the Islamic Penal Laws and punishable by death. But make no mistake, its not as simple as its look. There are certain requirements that need to be met before someone can be convicted by the Hudud laws. If someone doesn't meet that requirement, then he or she would be punished by the much lighter punishment that is provided by the other 3 lower Islamic Penal Laws.

For someone to be convicted by the Hudud laws, he or she needs to be a mature of age, a free person, in a healthy state of mind, and not in desperate situations (meaning he or she are not being coerced to commit the crimes). Of course there would be burden of proof as well. To convict someone with the Hudud laws, only a certain kind of witnesses can be admitted. Only free, adult and 'adil' Muslim men can testify, and there must be 4 of them. They must repeat their confessions 4 times, and cannot retract back their confessions at any point before the punishment. If they were found to be lying, then they would be punished severely instead.

Here is the part where people confused or have a misconception. 'Adil' does not mean equality. It never was. 'Adil' means 'to put things in its place'. Meaning that the eye-witnesses, must be related to the case directly, it could be the police officer who took the report, the forensic agent that involves in the investigation, the doctor who do the body check-up, technical video specialist, or anyone for that matter that can provide  a rock solid proof. Be mindful though, they cannot retract back their confession once they made it, and not very many people at all survived the lashing when they were found tip-toeing around making false accusations. That ought to make people to think twice before accepting bribery or fabricate false evidence.

There are also other requirement that need to be met based on the Hudud case. For example, in the case of thievery, people commonly thought that in Islam, stealing equal to hand decapitation. Actually, its not. To be convicted by Hudud law on the thievery case, the thieve(s) must had stolen more that the minimum value of the overall stolen items (that is right, there is a minimum value). The minimum value is 3/4 of gold dinar, where 1 gold dinar is equivalent to 2.45 gram of gold. If you stole (the overall of your theft) more than that, then yes, Hudud is just for you. If not, you'll be sentenced to corporal punishment such as the Tazir. There are many more of the requirements. Hudud is not as simple as 'would a destitute man who stole a can of milk for his starving child and then got caught to be amputated his arm?' as that.

As harsh as Hudud may seem, these standard of proof made Hudud very difficult to apply in practice. In fact, that was the very idea. If you had like, a staggering proofs against you even with this kind of standard of proof, you pretty much should just forget about all those so called rehabilitation or chances to repent. It was made difficult for a reason. You shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place.

But if you think that with the standard of proof required for Hudud punishment could not be met means that you'll be walking scot-free, then you're dead wrong. In Islamic court, the only outcome can only be either guilty or innocent. There is no such thing as, 'settling it outside the court'. No retracting your confession, remember? If you are found guilty, but doesn't met the requirements for Hudud punishment, then you'll be slapped with the Tazir sentence. If you're are found innocent, then your accuser must be guilty of false accusation. So, yes. Think thoroughly before you get your case into the court, because there won't be some sort of 'deal' for you to make like in the 'Law Abiding Citizen' movie.
The whole idea of this harsh and deadly punishments, was to act as a deterrent, so that no one should be allowed to cross the 'limit'. It would be a strong and clear message for anyone that cross that line, only death awaits them. You must understand one thing, in Islamic Penal Laws, its not just about justice but also about disclosure. You've seen people got caught in the entanglement of time-dragging-money-consuming court cases with no end that could lead to undefined amount of time in imprisonment.

But don't take my word for it, I'm just saying that even with our so called 'up-dated' Common laws, well, we are not exactly living happily with rainbows and everything. If anything, it only drag things to a quite considerable amount of time, for example like the urm.. graft and corruption cases? No?

Anyway, there are more to the Hudud laws. If I were to write everything about the Hudud laws, then I might as well wrote a law book. My intention is only to provide an introduction, Hudud laws is not as simple as some people might think. It just like any other laws, there are provisions, clause, and requirements to be met. Not to mention that its only a part out of four categories that encompasses the Islamic Penal Laws.

However, you have every right to worry that the Hudud laws might be abused and corrupted by those who hold the seat of power and governance. It just that because Hudud is the burden of the government and not an 'auto-pilot' kind of laws, so you'll know exactly where the problem lies.


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