A thief may have his hands spared but he or she will still have to face punishment in the afterlife, Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin told a forum on hudud today.
Asri said even in the absence of hudud law which provides for amputation as a punishment for theft, stealing remains a sin in the eyes of God.
"Some people seem to think that if we don't amputate the hands of a thief, then it is halal (permissible) to steal. Stealing is still haram (forbidden)," he stressed.
He said this at a forum organised by the NGO Angkatan Amanah Merdeka, which is founded by BN's Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Asri said while he does not oppose hudud, he believes certain conditions must be met before such laws can be imposed.
He said in Islam there is distinction between "personal sins" which does not affect others, and are between the sinner and God, and crimes which affects others.
"What we are discussing today is whether there are (only) certain offences (in Islam) which should be punished by us mortals," he said.
The day's discussion saw some 100 supporters and critics exchanging their views on PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) Amendment Bill.
Asri was responding to an audience member who alleged that he was against Hadi's Act 355 amendments and equating the stand to being against God's law.
Among others, the audience member insisted that consumption of alcohol should be punishable by the state under Islamic law, while Asri had stressed against criminalisation of personal sins between man and God.
Earlier in his speech, Asri also highlighted concerns over a possible double standard where the same crime can be punishable under two sets of laws.
"I am worried that a person who steals a car might get his hands amputated but another person who stole billions would not be amputated," he said.
He added that attempts to introduce hudud law in countries such as Sudan, Libya and Pakistan had been halted as it was found that the society has yet to meet the conditions required before it could be enforced.
"It is not because God's law is inappropriate but because mankind and society have changed," he stressed.
Asri said the same considerations on whether conditions to enforce hudud law in Malaysia has been fulfilled should also be made by any parties who wished to implement it.
To do otherwise, he cautioned, could lend credence to inaccurate perceptions of Islam as a religion which promotes violence - instead of one based on justice and compassion for all mankind.
Hadi's Bill - which critics insisted would pave the way for hudud law - seeks to raise the sentencing limit of the syariah court from a maximum RM3,000 fine, six strokes of the rotan and five-year jail limit to maximum 30 years' jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.
This is a revised version, where an earlier version removed all limits to penalties to be meted out by the syariah court, raising fears of the implementation of existing hudud laws in Terengganu and Kelantan.
The legislations of those states were not enforced due to the limits placed on syariah courts, under Act 355.
Hadi and his supporters had consistently maintained the bill's aim is to strengthen the syariah courts and that the amendments would not affect non-Muslims.- Mkini