The enforcement of Syariah Penal Code in Brunei: ‘Syariah Law not about punishment’


THURSDAY, the first day of Rejab 1435 (corresponding to May 1, 2014), a sacred blessed month in the Islamic calendar, marks the historic revival of Islamic Laws – once practiced in the Sultanate centuries ago – after His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam made the much awaited announcement of its first-phase enforcement.

The historic event denotes the arrival of a new era and signifies the full sovereignty of our country, Negara Brunei Darussalam, over its legal affairs – the right to implement the laws prescribed by Allah the Almighty within the jurisdiction defined in the Syariah Penal Code Order, which incorporates Islamic Laws into the existing criminal justice system.

Alhamdulillah. We have to thank Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) for having sent us a ruler whose vision will, Inshaa Allah, lead us even closer to the true religion He has bestowed upon mankind.

Avowing “With the complete faith and gratitude towards Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala)”, His Majesty declared that historic day as the date for the enforcement of the first phase of the Order, which is to be followed by subsequent phases. This declaration shows his government’s strong determination in implementing Islam as a complete way of life to answer all the doubts of and criticisms towards the Order made by those narrow-minded people, the international mainstream media, NGOs and the so-called international champion of human rights, who are short-sighted and full of shortcomings in nature.

All these parties, with their lack of knowledge and correct understanding of Islam and Syariah, have obstinately questioned and criticised the Order, decrying some of the punishments, especially the whipping, the severing of limbs, stoning to death and death penalty.

“We have never viewed others in a negative light because what they do is within their rights and up to their individual choices. We also do not expect them to accept and agree with us, but it is sufficient if they respect us as we duly respect them,” His Majesty wisely said in response to all the criticisms.

The Monarch, who loves his people and is loved by his people, said that the decision to enforce the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 was not made on a whim but was “to act upon the command of Allah the Exalted, as prescribed in His Book, Al-Quran and the Sunnah of His Messenger (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam).

In fact, if only we want to see and think clearly, honestly and sincerely, we will find out that Syariah Laws are not about punishments at all. Indeed, they are aimed at educating people and preventing them from committing sins and/or offences.

As the Attorney-General, YB Datin Seri Paduka Hjh Hayati Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohd Salleh, said in her special lecture during the declaration ceremony on Wednesday, Syariah Law has strict and complex due process in its methods of proof and that punishment is not the aim of the law. She learned that Syariah Law has “very high standards of convictions”, meaning to punish an offender he/she must be found guilty without doubt.

Citing clear distinctions of the Code, that she said impressed her that are absent in civil laws, the Attorney-General stated: “It’s crucial that we and the outside community understand these distinctions and not continue to focus on the punishments but shift it to the code’s strict and complex due process.”

Unlike the methods of proof in civil law, the Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code requires the testimonies of witnesses of high integrity which must be fair and not contradict one another.

YB Datin Seri Paduka Hjh Hayati gave an example that the cane, when carrying out a punishment under civil law, is frighteningly swung with extreme force during whipping. But caning under Syariah, “It suffices that the hand is raised slowly and caning strike on the back is done evenly, not just on one area.”

She opined that there is no disputing against the Syariah law and the noble responsibility of a Sultan who loves his people and is loved by his people to exercise his responsibility as Ulil ‘Amri (leader) “(because) who are we to boldly oppose the laws of Allah (STW).”

She noted that in the implementation of the Code, the Religious Enforcement Office will work hand in hand as a team with the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF).

As usual, Wednesday’s declaration of our Syariah has promptly received negative reports and criticisms from the international mainstream media. However, we must stay persistent (istiqomah) with this true path we have deliberately chosen and taken. Allah has stated in the Quran: “Never will the disbelievers be pleased with you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) till you follow their religion.” (AL-Baqarah: 120); and “If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if you remain patient and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious), not the least harm will their cunning do to you. Surely, Allah surrounds all that they do.” (Ali Imran: 120)

With the blessing of the month of Rejab and with the Grace of Allah, let’s struggle to gain a golden opportunity to draw ourselves closer to Allah the Almighty. Inshaa Allah, as long as we’re consistent and istiqomah on this path, we’ll see a shining Brunei Darussalam in a near future.

The Brunei Times/Editorial
Fri, 2 May 2014

Quit focusing on punishments, they are not the aim of Syariah law: Attorney-General

BRUNEI’S Syariah law has strict and complex due process that deserves the attention of the outside community, the Attorney-General said yesterday, adding that punishment is not the aim of the new code.

In her lecture during the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 declaration ceremony at the International Convention Centre (ICC), YB Datin Seri Paduka Hjh Hayati Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohd Salleh cited “three clear distinctions of the Syariah Penal Code that impressed me that are absent in civil courts”.


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