PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has urged critics of his private member's bill on the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 to respect the Federal Constitution and allow Muslims to practice their faith in peace.
In particular, he referred to the recent demand by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hindusim, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) for MPs to reject the bill.
"On behalf of Muslims, I urge everyone involved in making that statement, and their political backers, to go back to the Federal Constitution," said Hadi in a press release today.
He said that Article 3(1) had stipulated that Islam was the official religion of the federation while other religions could be practiced in peace and harmony.
"Let us all appreciate the contributions of all ethnic and religious groups which included this stipulation in the Federal Constitution," said Hadi, adding that PAS was not involved in the drafting of the constitution at the time.
In view of this, he argued that Act 355 was now meant to facilitate Islamic jurisprudence and it would be unfair to Muslims to deny them this constitutional right.
Hadi said that Act 355 was not specific to the enactment of hudud law, which allows for amputations, and relates to all other aspects of Islamic jurisprudence including "the individual, family, society, nation and international matters".
Thus, he said that Muslims have the constitutional right to practice their religion without being "disturbed by people of other religions" just as how PAS respects the rights of non-Muslims to practice their religion in Malaysia.
Look at your own scriptures
Hadi added that teachings of the Quran was suitable for a country of multi-ethnic society because of the emphasis on fairness and brotherhood.
He said that this was opposed to the divide-and-rule policies introduced by former colonial masters.
"We are obligated to uphold the concept of non-compulsion in religion. At the same time, Islam compels its followers to proper dialogue, especially with followers of scriptures," he said.
He urged those from other religions to explore their respective scriptures in order to find solutions to crime and moral decline which is affecting the world.
This, said Hadi, would allow for a healthy comparison between Islamic laws and laws introduced by former colonial masters.
"(Colonial laws) do not exist in scriptures of all religions. Please show us (the results of your comparison)," he said.
He added that critics should evaluate Islam based entirely on the Quran and not the actions of the Islamic State, which uses violence without knowledge derived from the Quran.
Hadi's bill is aimed at expanding the powers of the Syariah courts throughout the country.
He has tabled the bill four times, but it has yet to be debated. -Mkini