Many Muslims who oppose PAS’ proposal to amend Act 355 have stayed silent because they fear being branded as heretics.
Among them are those who do not subscribe to Jakim’s interpretation of Islam and thus fear prosecution in the courts, which can result in jail terms. These include Shia Muslims and those who subscribe to allegedly deviant teachings such as those promoted by the Al-Arqam movement and the Ahmadis. They also include the so-called Quranists, whose most prominent adherent is perhaps Kassim Ahmad.
The Quranists reject the authority of the hadith. We’ve seen how the 84-year-old Kassim is persecuted for his views.
There is probably also a large group who, while subscribing to the officially sanctioned interpretation of Islam, is silently opposed to the amendment bill to be tabled by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang. They are practising Muslims, but they don’t like it when Islam is turned into a political obsession.
Hadi is now apparently tweaking the bill to ease the way for the introduction of hudud.
Many Malaysians think that the amended law will apply only to Muslims. It has not occurred to them that once the hardliners are allowed some leeway, they will make further demands until they get what they want.
At present, many law-abiding Muslims, frustrated by the many crimes committed in the country, have a Utopian view of the world and a mistaken belief that strengthening the shariah laws with harsher punishments will reduce crime.
The Muslim hardliners, when trying to convince other Muslims to accept the bill, refer to hudud as God’s law. But in Brunei, the Sultan is exempt from hudud law. This is against Islam, which sees everyone as equal. Will the same cherry picking happen in Malaysia?
If the religious authorities cannot tolerate minor cases of dissent now, just think how severely Malaysians, especially Muslims, will be dealt with if the bill becomes law.
This bill is really about controlling the Malays and bullying them into submission. The largely silent Muslim majority must speak up before it is too late.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.