Pehin Orang Kaya Lela Raja Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abdul Karim
POVERTY may induce a Muslim to apostasy” (Hadith). We must create thousands of woman-business-economic power similar to that of Khadijah Binti Khuwailid Radi’al Allahu Anha for Brunei Darussalam, to be honoured, to be respected.
Recently a writer (“Concern Citizen”) wrote in a local newspaper. He/she suggested the following steps to help clear this fear, as follows:
i. Create a hotline for any inquiry about the Laws (Syariah Law) or (Islamic) religious issues;
ii. Create a Facebook page for inquiries particularly from abroad, on the Law;
iii. Air a television programme on the Law on regular basis;
iv. Set up a booth for inquiries on the Law at the Brunei International Airport for visitors and tourists. (“Tips to help understand Syariah Law” Borneo Bulletin 5-3-2014)
Clearly, the progressive nature of Islam is virtually impossible to separate from Islamic virtues of equity and justice, and respect for women.
But thousands of years of deeply ingrained cultural values promote and sustain deep “cultural misogynic practices” that have clearly been banished in (most parts of the) Muslim world where women occupy a variety of high positions in politics, business, management, in factories, banking, from science, engineering to pilots, doctors, professors, and so on.
“The Quran’s teachings about women are enormously progressive. Women’s legal and financial rights saw dramatic advances over pre-Islamic social norms and practice.” (Prof John Renard)
The very word “Syariah” conjures images of social control through severe criminal punishment and the regulation of sexual morality, especially that of women.
But what is less often noticed is the basic fact that the idea of a commitment to a vision of legal order.
The legal order that demands justice as driven by the language of the Quran.
In the mind of westerners and even some secularised Muslims, Syariah often stands for the covering of women and the administering of corporal punishment for thieves and adulterers.
But the true meaning of Syariah is Law itself and not any law, but the Divine Law that governed the Islamic state through the centuries of its success.
What is not generally known to western audiences is that these punishments may not be administered except after conviction by a court under a standard of proof so high that it can only very rarely be met ….. Extreme and visible punishments serve as salient reminders to the public to follow the law (deterrent/preventive!) ….. much like the English common law that “punished every felony with death”. (Re: “The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State” by Noah Feldman.)
The demand for a high standard of proof in Syariah is due to the serious, heavy onus on the judges to be extremely cautious and fair in obtaining and weighing the proof of guilt as they are both “answerable” to Allah Subhanu Wa Ta’ala and to the accused.
(NB: There are numerous cases in the West where the innocent had been hung! But in the secular West, those judges, jurists and prosecutors are “not answerable to God!”)
Thus, according to Marshall Hogson in his book “Venture of Islam, Vol I: “From a pre-modern view, the Shariah was actually ‘mild’.
In an age where torture was the standard procedure from dealing with suspects, Islamic Law even seemed ‘soft’ on criminals.”
Our religious authorities should use the essence of “Language of Mercy In Islamic Discourse” as published in The Brunei Times (28-2- 2014) as an excellent foundation to enlighten those who hide behind their respective pseudonyms to launch attacks on Islam and our Monarch.
The country’s religious officers must obviously possess deep and wide knowledge of Syariah: must not simply, perfunctorily read from prepared papers.
This is because Bruneians nowadays are having agile minds and are being day and night exposed to their fingertips, cyber information and disinformation about Islam and Islamic authorities.
Enemies of Islam and Muslims are lurking out there, even within the minds and hearts of those who hide behind their respective pseudonyms in launching their attacks.
Correct knowledge decreases fear. People fear what they do not know or understand. “Tak kenal, maka tak cinta”. In this case, ignorance is not bliss — it is a curse.
To conclude, this very common children riddle may be an apt reminder:
X and Y were arguing.
X to Y: “Which comes first, the egg or hen?”
Y: “Of course, the hen!”
X: “No! Without the egg, the hen would not have been born”.
So both kept on arguing, staunchly defending their points.
By and by, a pious one in authority, overheard this debate. He clearly reminded the boys that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala created both the hen and the egg.
“Call to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the best manner. Surely thy Lord knows best him who strays from His path, and He knows best those who go aright.”
(Al-Quran: Surah Al-Nahl [The Bee] 16: Verse 125)
From Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala we come, to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala we will return. Allahu Akbar.