HM proposes Islamic criminal law

His Majesty the Sultan delivering his 'titah' during the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) meeting. The Crown Prince (L) looks on. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday proposed the introduction of an Islamic Criminal Act to deal with Islamic crimes while maintaining the implementation of existing civil and religious legislations.

Brunei does not have an act that specifically handles criminal offences under Islam, the monarch said in a titah at a closed-door meeting with members of the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (Muib).

Brunei runs a Syariah Court that is influential only in the area of Family Law, His Majesty said, adding that the Sultanate has yet to come up with its own Islamic Criminal Act for judiciary purpose.

The pious ruler said he had previously approved the establishment of a Syariah High Court, with the supreme authority to handle not only the administration of a Family Law but also to fully manage the Islamic Criminal Act, as ordained by Allah (SWT).

The law of Allah (SWT) is not new to Brunei, His Majesty said.

The monarch explained that Brunei has been implementing the Islamic Law since the 17th century, but with the intervention of foreign powers, Brunei had to or was rather forced to abandon it.

Noting that Brunei is now, being independent, sovereign, and governed by a Muslim leader, His Majesty asked whether it was not an obligation to restore the law of Allah (SWT) in the country.

To handle Islamic crimes, it is fitting to have an Islamic Criminal Act, while maintaining the current act in cases that do not fit under the former, said His Majesty.

Criminal cases will be evaluated first to see if these fit the conditions under the Islamic Criminal Act. If a case does not fulfil the conditions, then it would be dealt with under the Common Law.

His Majesty said the prosecutions based on the Islamic Criminal Act are carried out under stringent conditions.

"These stringent conditions may make it difficult to implement but we are demanded to have that Act," said His Majesty.

The monarch said it was important to have and implement both (Islamic Criminal and Common Acts) acts, otherwise criminal cases could be dropped just like that.

The absence of such laws, His Majesty related, could create chaos in the society.

"The Act that we have now is still relevant. In addition to that we need to have an Islamic Criminal Act as reserved for specific circumstances. Hopefully, by doing this Allah (SWT) will spare us from his punishment/torment for not implementing the law."

His Majesty said the Islamic Criminal Act does not necessarily mean hudud, huduh law or hudud court.

Hudud covers a wide range of Islamic law such as fasting, marriage and akidah, His Majesty added. However, in the context of Islamic crimes, the term hudud is not favoured and even hated among the ignorant.

Hudud laws deal with offences and punishments that are interpreted by Muslim juristic scholars derived from the Al-Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

It was made as an excuse (for them) to reject Allah's (SWT) law on Islamic Criminal Act, His Majesty said.

The monarch saw no issue in not using the term hudud to refer to the act.

"We can call it other names such as Islamic Criminal Law or Allah (SWT) Criminal Law as long as it is in line with hududullah (laws of Allah (SWT)).

His Majesty asked the council members to seek a formula and reached a decision to achieve the objective and gain Allah (SWT) blessings.

The monarch did not see any problem in seeing both Islamic and Civil laws working together hand in hand.

"We have adjusted the civil law with the requirements of syarak (Islamic Law), and not all that is in civil law contradicts syarak," said His Majesty.

He said civil law that does not contradict syarak can be maintained. "Those that contradict, we will adjust according to Islamic law." The Brunei Times