COMMENT The hudud debate has so far been conducted in the context of Islamic law and syariah, with proponents wishing to contain it within the faith. This is misplaced.
The debate is actually housed in the realm of the administration of justice generally, and, the enforcement of criminal law in particular.
In consequence, all the peoples resident in Malaysia, citizens and non-citizens, and Muslims and non-Muslims are profoundly affected by the debate.
What is hudud?
The following definition of hudud is taken from a translation of Sahih Muslim, ‘Book 17: The Book Pertaining to Punishments Prescribed by Islam’ (Kitab Al-Hudud) and serves as the basis of this article.
"The penal laws of Islam are called Hudud in the Hadith and Fiqh. This word is the plural of Hadd. ... Punishments by way of Hadd are of the following forms: death by stoning, amputation of a limb or limbs, flogging by one hundred or eighty strokes. They are prescribed respectively for the following offences: adultery committed by married persons, theft, highway robbery, drunkenness and slander imputing unchastity to women."
Emeritus Professor Clive Kessler wrote about its impact in 2009:
"The introduction, even the mere hinted suggestion, of any proposal for the official infliction of pain on people's bodies and souls - for outright crimes against their fellow human beings, or even for the exercise of independent intellectual and spiritual conscience - must markedly shift society away from the gentle end, and decidedly towards the crude and brutalising end, of the ethical scale . That seems indisputable.
“ Any such legally mandated assault upon the citizen - any citizen or subject of the state - with its mutilation of bodies, maiming of souls, shaming and extreme humiliation of persons and its violation of personal conscience and human dignity will discredit the state, its laws, and those who uphold them. This is not a direction that a modern progressive state can take or its citizens, if they are thoughtful, condone. Those who endorse such measures must have a different agenda." (my emphasis)...