Brunei To Apply Islamic Law

OnIslam & News Agencies

“It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty has created laws for us, so that we can utilize them to obtain justice,” said the Sultan.
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - The Islamic kingdom of Brunei has announced its plans to apply a new Islamic Shari`ah penal code next year, which is expected to include stoning to death for adultery and flogging for drinking alcohol.

“By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled,” Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was quoted by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, October 22.

After years of preparations, Sultan Bolkiah announced that the Shari`ah criminal law would be enforced in Brunei from April, 2014.

The new law could include stoning to death for adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption, AFP cited a copy of the code.

“It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilize them to obtain justice,” said the sultan, who also holds the post of prime minister, Reuters reported.

Calling it a form of ‘special guidance’ from God, the 67- year old sultan said that the new code would be ‘part of the great history’ of Brunei Island.

Applying the new Shari`ah code would require strict proofs for the crimes and the judges would have discretion over punishments, the attorney-general's office said two years ago to reassure worried citizens.

The Sultanate of Brunei has a population of less than half a million, hailing mainly from Malay origin, and 90 percent of them are Muslims.

For more than 14 centuries Muslims have resorted to Shari`ah as a means to govern their lives until the Western occupation forces invaded Muslim lands.

There are clear-cut hudud established by the Qur'an as mentioned above, with regard to qisaas,qadhf, hirabah, and theft.

There are also the zanni (speculative) hudud, which were established by the Sunnah, such as the penalty for drinking wine.

Shari`ah govern issues in Muslims’ lives from daily prayers to fasting and from to inheritance and marital cases to financial disputes.

The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.

Justice for All

Praising the new code, Brunei’s top Islamic scholar Mufti, Awang Abdul Aziz, said that Shari`ah law in the country “guarantees justice for everyone and safeguards their well-being.”

“Let us not just look at the hand-cutting or the stoning or the caning per se, but let us also look at the conditions governing them,” he told The Independent.

“It is not indiscriminate cutting or stoning or caning.

There are conditions and there are methods that are just and fair.”

Immigration offenses are punished with caning, according to Brunei secular laws.

The Mufti added that concerns over tourists and foreigners would avoid visiting Brunei after the law is implemented must not ‘exist’.

“Please listen to our answer. Sir, do all potential tourists to Brunei plan to steal? If they do not, then what do they need to fear,” Awang told the legal conference on Tuesday.

“Believe me when I say that with our Shari`ah criminal law, everyone, including tourists, will receive proper protection.”

Yet, others remained dubious about the new Islamic code, which draw concerns over political rights in the Islamic Sultanate.

“These rights-abusing policies are a good indication of why modern democracy and the right of people to participate in their government is a much better idea than anachronistic absolute monarchy,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch told AFP.

“The situation shows that “respect for basic civil and political rights is near zero in Brunei,” he added.

“It seems almost incompatible with Malay culture, which is peace-loving,” Tuah Ibrahim, 57, driver of a boat taxi in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, was quoted by AFP.

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