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Malaysia and Other “Islamic” Nations

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Name of countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan will be popular in the coming days. Not for the developments in the respective countries, but on the contrary. Their legal systems will be a focus for many liberals as failures in upholding justice and equality. 

Saudi Arabia would be associated with the ban on driving by women. The failure of the State of Pakistan as an Islamic Republic. And the most infamous among them all, Afghanistan for the brutality of Taliban. So do these countries and their legal systems have anything in common with ours?

Firstly, let us look into Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy. Famous for its oil, the state enforces a single legal system. The Syariah based legal system in Saudi is famous for intolerance towards dissidence. The king has the final say in basically everything. As far as the appointment of ministers is concerned, there is no democratic system present. 

Pakistan is a republic, it has a President and a Prime Minister. The country is in an appalling state with respect to its economy and society. Crime is rampant and so are human rights violations. The number of honour killings, and the oppression of women are just too numerous to mention. This would be a benchmark for the failure of the Syariah based legal system. 

So let’s see if we have similarities with their legal systems. Firstly all of the countries mentioned above have a single legal system. The governments’ administration too is very different. 

Malaysia is unique to the nations mentioned. One of it, is because of a dual legal system. One for Muslims and the other for non-Muslims. Secondly we have a constitutional monarchy in place. The kings do maintain some powers at the Federal level. At the state levels, the kings have an important role to play in legislation. 

The Syariah Courts are a body under the Malay Kings. All Syariah Law reforms that take place, must go through the Malay Kings in the respective states. For the states without a Sultan the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is in charge of their Islamic Affairs.

Even with a dual legal system, a person cannot be charged for the same offence twice. According to the Federal Constitution clause 7(2), A person who has been acquitted or convicted of an offence shall not be tried again for the same offence except where the conviction or acquittal has been quashed and a retrial ordered by a court superior to that by which he was acquitted or convicted. 

The Syariah courts cannot sentence a non-Mulslim. A non-Muslim can only be sentenced by the Federal Court(s). A suggestion to increase the ceiling punishments of Syariah courts can only be done within the limitations of the State List, 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

The effort to demonise Islam and Muslims, due to failures of others is not fair. There are successful countries such as Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and so on that have the Syariah Laws. 

We hope that the liberals choose arguments that have a hint of truth in them, rather than just making claims. Our nation has a different legal system, different penal codes, different form of administration. It is not fair to associate the methods that we use with that of other nations.

The plight of liberals in essence is not for justice, but to part from Islam. Once Islam and the State have parted ways, it will be much easier for the liberals to go about their agenda. Whatever the agenda maybe, we see no place for it in our nation. 

It creates chaos and is unjustified. Rhetorical yes, it is beautiful to hear, however the failures of secular states are not mentioned. Genocides by secular nations such as Britain, United States of America, Australia, Belgium and many more are not mentioned. And some of these Genocides happened in the last century.

Was Nazi Germany a Muslim nation? Was Joseph Stalin a Muslim? No, on all counts. The portrayal of secularism and liberalism as the most successful administrative models is wrong and unjustified. France is secular, and look at the xenophobia they promote. Donald Trump, is looking forward to become the President of a secular nation too right?

How did the Balkan nations treated the Refugees? Four out of five countries with the highest number of refugees are Muslim nations. Why is the effort of these countries left out? When the Europeans take a fraction of the refugees that the Muslim countries have, it becomes such a fuss. As though the Europeans are suffering the most from the crisis at hand.

It is all rhetorics and conjectures, with little truth and a lot of deviation. Effort to demonise Islam and Muslims continues. While much of the efforts to help societies are not mentioned. One day, we would all see how the Muslims helped shape todays world through the actions of the past.

May the truth prevail, and may those who strive for truth succeed. Godspeed. Allah knows best.

Rehan Ahmad Bin Jamaluddin Ahmad

Research Fellow, Institut Kajian Strategik Islam Malaysia (IKSIM) 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of, and should not be attributed to, Isma or Ismaweb.

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