Hudud 5: Not Hudud

The so called Hudud Bill is in fact a private members bill aimed at amending the Sharia Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 so as to enable Islamic courts in Kelantan to enforce higher penalties for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution (art.74, sched. 9. List II). Clearly, as Rosli Dahlan and  Fawza Sabila Faudzi argue with cited authorities, “Syariah law is only applicable to Muslims and only as personal law, with provision for certain offences against the precepts of Islam.” Arguably, ‘Hudud’ is a misnomer for a bill that seems to be about enhancing the Shariah court’s power to punish  and not about increasing the ambit of the offences under sharia jurisdiction. Nevertheless, such Sharia punishments are presently limited to jail terms of three years, whipping of six strokes, or fines of up to RM5,000 and so this amendment, which in its original form did not specify or limit the new punishments, has the potential to significantly raise the impact of Sharia in the administration of Malaysian society. In its present amended  form, the  proposed bill now limits the punishments to 30 years jail, RM100,000 fine and 100. When the bill was initially proposed, Khalid Samad of Parti Amanah, believed that it was unlikely to pass or even to be tabled. At that time, he seemed to be suggesting that the lack of consideration and granularity in this proposed legislation was an indication that the Bill was not conceived as a serious instrument of administration but as rhetoric for the upcoming general elections. Indeed, we should be reading this bill closely, in relation to the current state of Islamic legislation and practices, rather that in terms of utopian or dystopian projections of Hudud.