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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Khalwat: Offenders are only human

WHEN an off-duty policeman died during a raid on a Kelantan hotel, his colleagues must have felt a tinge of regret and shame. State police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi confirmed that one of his men had died in the incident. The policemen had not died in the line of duty; he died whilst trying to flee from his colleagues who were conducting the khalwat raid.

Enough has been said about these raids but little has been done to review them.

Now that the police have made one of their own a victim, will they finally engage with those who wish to regulate these raids? Enough lives have been lost. For those who remain, the loss of possibly the sole breadwinner causes more hardship.

Will these religious officials also realise that policemen are human, too? No one condones immorality, but not everyone can live the life of a saint.

Ackhalwat-raidcording to a senior police official, "The 33-year-old lance-corporal climbed out of his hotel room window when religious affairs department officials raided his room in the early hours of Saturday". They believe he may have jumped off or fallen from the third-storey window.

Extra-marital sex is frowned upon by most religions, but if it is consensual, then what this man and his lover did is their business. It is their sin, and a crime between them and their God.

Khalwat raids are an oppressive way of forcing people to conform to Islamic ideals of behaviour. The 'holier than thou' attitude of the officials causes more harm than good.

It casts a shadow on Islam and invites criticism to the motives and methods of the officials who may, have good intentions at heart. However, the public sees them as voyeurs and thugs who enjoy recording people's actions by snooping, hiding behind pillars, creeping around bushes and pouncing on innocent couples.

More often than not, these officials are extremely arrogant. They are rude and unsympathetic and often humiliate people after they barge and force their way into homes or bedrooms. They see no wrong in invading the privacy of others, lowering their dignity and shaming them in public.

By right, this moral policing contravenes the Koranic injunction laid out in various verses such as Surah Al-Hujurat 49:12: "do not pry into others' secrets" or Surah An-Nur 24:27, 28: 'Do not enter other houses except yours without first asking permission and saluting the inmates. If you are asked to go away, turn back. That is proper for you'.

According to religious academics, khalwat raids were never carried out during the Prophet's lifetime and even the second Caliph Sayidina Umar was rebuked for barging into a suspect's residence.

Many Muslim countries do not conduct khalwat raids, but they seem to be the norm here. Already there are allegations of abuses of power where the officials behaved inappropriately towards their detainees.

If the authorities are serious about doing good, then how about focusing their resources on tracing errant husbands or fathers? These men abandon their wives and do not pay maintenance to their wives, or their ex-wives, and their children.

Anti-khalwat,

Kota Baru

courtesy of MM

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