Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Scope of Syariah on Non-Muslims?

According to Sun2Surf, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taosim (MCCBCHST) has come out to say:

"The MCCBCHST strongly protests any pressure that is brought to bear on non-Muslims to submit themselves to the syariah court's jurisdiction," secretary general R. Thiagaraja said today in a press conference attended by the heads of non-Muslim religious groups to commemorate the first anniversary Sgt M. Moorthy's passing.
I agree whole heartedly with this stand. Non-muslims should not be subject to Islamic law, and any court that derives it's power from these religious laws. I think that expresses the sentiment of every non-muslim in Malaysia.

However, what is more disturbing to me are the quoted statements of the Syariah Lawyers Assoc. in the same article:
In a Berita Harian commentary yesterday, Syariah Lawyers Association president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the Nyonya Tahir case showed how a Buddhist family which cooperated with the syariah courts was able to achieve a favourable decision.
Point 1:
How can a non-muslim be expected to 'cooperate' with a syariah court? Why should someone be expected to abide by laws of a religion he does not profess, and subject themselves to judgements by the officers enforcing those laws?

Ponder this: will Mr. Zainul Rizal subject himself to 'cooperate' with the arbitration (not even rulings) of a non-Muslim body like MCCBCHST perhaps? If not, why the double standard? Is he not a 'cooperative' person?
"This case shows that syariah courts are just and don't only make decisions in favour of Muslims," he argued.
Point 2:
The point is not whether the syariah courts make decisions in favour of whichever party. The point is that the syariah courts are NOT entitled to make such decisions [affecting non-muslims] at all, in the first place.
Zainul added that non-Muslims' disrespect of the syariah court, as demonstrated by Rayappan's family which chose to ignore a syariah court subpeona, does not help amicably resolve cases where there is a dispute over a deceased's faith.
Point 3:
Where is the disrespect? What has respect got to do with it? How does the refusal to acknowledge the overstepping of authority by a body [that has no jurisdiction over one-self] amount to disrespect? Won't the resolution be even more amicable if the syariah court did not purport to exert authority over non-muslims in the first place by summoning them to appear in court?

We must first answer the question whether the syariah court has the powers to subpeona non-muslims [and indeed, does it have jurisdiction over the rights of non-muslims] before we can even address the matter of non-muslims ignoring directives from the syariah courts.

I believe the answer to that question is a resounding "NO"!

Refer to follow-up article here: Chief Syariah Judge concedes that Syariah Court has no power over Non-Muslims

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

?? im sorry to say, but the syariah rules referred directly from quran and sunah/hadith. it is best for you to get the details first before questioning. These two cases are different, u'll understand this only if u understand our book. we are not offended with ur points, coz u r not a muslim, surely u get confused.