06th April, 2008
To: The Editor, The Star (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: The Editor, Berita Harian (email@example.com)
IKIM “khalwat” reports
- On 04/4/2008, both your newspapers carried reports to the effect that Dato' Hj. Muhammad Asri bin Hj. Abdullah, the Syariah Court of Appeal Judge had stated that non-Muslims found committing “khalwat” (though this is not explicit in the Berita Harian report) should be prosecuted/punished accordingly.
- IKIM’s DG makes a statement that the comments reported in The Star allegedly made by the said Judge was in error.
- The Star then carried a report on 05/4/2008 implying that the said Judge did make the statement but that view is not shared by IKIM.
(relevant portions in the above reports/statement have been highlighted in green for easy reference)
To not belabour this point any further, could both of you answer these questions:-
- Did Dato' Hj. Muhammad Asri bin Hj. Abdullah in fact made the statement?
- If yes, did he make it in his personal or professional capacity? Did he make it officially at the conference?
I do hope you will agree that accurately reporting such statements (if made) is paramount.
c.c. Ministry of Information (firstname.lastname@example.org)
c.c. Ministry of Information (email@example.com)
c.c. IKIM (firstname.lastname@example.org)
c.c. MalaysianBar.org webmaster (email@example.com)
Syor pinda lagi hukuman jenayah Syariah
Oleh Basir Zahrom
KUALA LUMPUR: Berikutan denda yang dikenakan Mahkamah Syariah dipandang ringan oleh umat Islam, Akta Mahkamah Syariah (Bidang Kuasa Jenayah) 1965 (pindaan) 1984 dicadang dipinda sekali lagi agar hukumannya ditambah.
Hakim Mahkamah Rayuan Syariah, Datuk Muhammad Asri Abdullah, berkata jika dulu denda sebanyak RM5,000 dilihat banyak dan membebankan untuk dilangsaikan, tetapi sekarang ia dianggap kecil.
"Disebabkan itu, umat Islam dilihat semakin leka dan melakukan banyak jenayah Syariah," katanya selepas menutup Seminar Semakan Semula Korpus Undang-undang Islam di Malaysia anjuran Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM) di sini, semalam.
Muhammad Asri berkata, bagi pindaan dicadangkan itu, kesalahan di bawah bidang kuasa Mahkamah Rendah Syariah yang mengenakan denda RM3,000 dan lima tahun penjara dan enam kali sebatan dinaikkan kepada RM10,000 dan lima tahun penjara dan 12 sebatan.
Bagi Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah pula dicadangkan dinaikkan kepada RM20,000, 10 tahun penjara dan 24 sebatan, katanya.
Katanya, bagi kesalahan yang membabitkan secara bersama orang Islam dengan bukan Islam, mereka perlu dihukum secara setimpal.
Thursday April 3, 2008
Proposal to prosecute non-Muslims for khalwat
By IZATUN SHARI
KUALA LUMPUR: A seminar on Syariah Law review wants non-Muslims found committing khalwat (close proximity) with Muslims to also be held liable.
This was among the proposals made at the two-day seminar organised by the Islamic Institute of Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) and the Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia.
Syariah Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Asri Abdullah said the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced accordingly, but in the civil courts.
"We don't have the jurisdiction to sentence non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims," he told reporters after closing the seminar on behalf of department director-general Datuk Ibrahim Lembut at Ikim here today.
"The Muslims can be sentenced in Syariah courts, and the non-Muslim partners can probably be sentenced in the civil courts, to be fair to both parties."
He said the proposal, contained in a draft resolution at the seminar, would be forwarded to the Attorney-General's Chambers.
"It is up to the Attorney-General's Chambers or the relevant authorities to decide how to create such a law," he said.
However, he declined to elaborate when the proposal would be forwarded to the Government.
Another proposal is to impose heftier penalties – of up to four times the current penalties – on Muslims caught for khalwat, prostitution, consuming alcohol and involvement in gambling activities.
Mohd Asri said Ikim and the department were proposing that the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Amendment) 1984 be amended to impose stiffer penalties of RM1,000 fine, or five years' jail or 12 strokes of the rotan for Syariah Lower Courts and RM20,000 fine, or 10 years' jail or 24 strokes of rotan for Syariah High Courts.
Current limits are a maximum of three years' jail, or RM5,000 fine, or up to six lashes or any combination of these, and different states provide different penalties for these offences.
"This has not been reviewed since 1984. It has been more than 20 years," said Mohd Asri.
There was also a proposal for Syariah judges to enforce whipping for these offences.
Another proposal calls for the establishment of a rehabilitation centre for those convicted of offences related to morals and faith such as prostitution and effeminate men, and enforcement of Section 54 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Act 559) to set up such centres.
The seminar also agreed to a suggestion that a new provision be created for apostates.
Wednesday April 2, 2008
Proposal to punish non-Muslims for khalwat
By IZATUN SHARI
KUALA LUMPUR: Non-Muslims committing khalwat (close proximity) with Muslims should also be held liable for the crime, two Islamic bodies have proposed in a resolution to be sent to the Attorney-General's Chambers.
The Islamic Institute of Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) and Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia said non-Muslims found committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced, perhaps in the civil courts.
"Muslims are sentenced in Syariah courts ... but we don't have the jurisdiction to sentence non-Muslims," Syariah Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Asri Abdullah said at a seminar on reviewing Syariah laws organised by Ikim and the department.
"Their non-Muslim partners can probably be sentenced in the civil courts, to be fair to both parties," he told reporters after closing the two-day seminar on Wednesday.
He said the proposal, contained in a draft resolution from the seminar's findings, would be forwarded to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AG's Chambers).
"It is up to the AG's Chambers or the relevant authorities to decide how to create such law," he said, declining to say when the proposal would be made to the Government.
The two bodies have also proposed stiffer penalties for Muslims caught in such offences as khalwat, prostitution, alcohol consumption and gambling.
Statement by the Director-General of IKIM
I would like to refer to the article on page 3 in the Tuesday, April 3 2008 edition of The STAR in which the headlines read "Proposal to prosecute non-Muslims for khalwat". I feel it incumbent to clarify certain matters highlighted in the aforementioned article, the contents of which are contentious to say the least.
First of all, IKIM's objectives for the 2 day seminar held in collaboration with the Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia (JKSM) was intended to review existing syariah laws to see if there were any laws that were redundant and also to propose a solution to some of the issues currently plaguing the syariah judiciary system in Malaysia.
The article in the STAR which reports that the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims caught committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced accordingly but in the civil courts, is entirely erroneous. No such proposal was made, and therefore if what is reported in the Star as being comments allegedly made by Syariah Court of Appeal Judge, are also in error.
Conversely, it is our opinion that non-Muslims cannot fundamentally be charged under any provision in Islamic law by virtue of the fact that they do not profess the religion of Islam. In addition, to my knowledge, there is no such provision in the civil courts to charge a person for khalwat, and therefore it would be premature to assume that non-Muslims can also be subjected to the charge of khalwat in the civil courts.
I am disappointed with the article highlighting comments allegedly made by Datuk Mohd. Asri Abdullah which emphasized the banal, when in reality the more important substantive proposals having to do with laws protecting the rights of divorced women and their rights to maintenance, were ignored.
Towards the end of the article, it also alleges that there was a proposal calling "for the establishment of a rehabilitation center for those convicted of offences related to morals and faith such as prostitution and effeminate men". To my knowledge, I have never interpreted being effeminate as an offence. But more importantly this so called proposal as reflected in the article is not representative of the proposals made during the seminar at IKIM. If indeed the learned Syariah Court of Appeal Judge made those statements, we strongly advise that it would behoove the learned Judge to be more circumspect in future.
Saturday April 5, 2008
We don't support judge's khalwat proposal, says Ikim
KUALA LUMPUR: Syariah Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Asri Abdullah's statement on the proposal to make non-Muslims found committing khalwat with Muslims liable is not the view of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim), its director-general Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas said.
Responding to Mohd Asri's statement that this was one of the proposals made at a seminar organised by Ikim and the Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia, Dr Syed Ali said Ikim would never support such a call, as it was impossible to apply Syariah laws to non-Muslims.
Saying that it was erroneous, he said it should not be construed as a stand shared by Ikim.
He said he should have been asked for his opinion by the media as he was the only spokesman of Ikim.
Dr Syed Ali said there was no such proposal nor was the word khalwat used at the seminar but only open discussions by the participants.
He said the judge could have been giving his personal opinion.
"Because of the statement, our close friendship and important association with non-Muslim groups are now in jeopardy," he said.
The newspaper article, he said, had resulted in Ikim being labelled "crazy Muslims" and fanatical by some people on the Internet. The purpose of the seminar, he said, was because the Syariah court, just like the civil ones, was having a crisis.
He said it was to highlight the judicial crisis, identify and resolve the problems, adding that the statement by Mohd Asri showed there was clearly a judicial crisis.
Dr Syed Ali said khalwat meant that the couple caught committing it should "have no space between them or were joined together" therefore proving khalwat was almost impossible.
"Therefore, this issue of khalwat is not important. What is more important is, we now have judges who are more literal than wise; looking at the letter of the law rather than using their own judgment.
"The purpose of the Ikim seminar is precisely that: to find out where the faults are," he said.