IT WAS indeed a historic move when His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darrusalam announced May 1 as the official enforcement date of the first phase of the Syariah Penal Code Order – which incorporates Islamic laws into the existing criminal justice system – at a special ceremony at the International Convention Centre (ICC).
With the announcement, Brunei becomes the first East Asian country to reintroduce Islamic criminal law at a national level. Since then, a barrage of unjustified criticisms have been levelled against the country, with many basing their opinions on the UN Declaration on Human Rights that was created in 1948 and ratified in 1949, when Brunei was still then a British Protectorate. It should be noted that the declaration was arguably not universally accepted. The declaration was based on what had been critically described as “a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition” that later on became the basis for other related conventions.
The declaration was imposed on the world by a body dominated by permanent members with dictatorial-like veto powers that believed then and arguably still do, that might is right. Upholding true human rights was assuredly not the underlying motive behind that declaration for otherwise that same organisation that came up with it in 1948 would not have in that very same year trampled upon the rights of Palestinians by “legitimising” the creation of a Zionist entity that would in a genocidal manner murder and drive away the inhabitants of historical Palestine, and to this very day still occupy and subjugate them in an apartheid-like barbarism with the support and indulgence of some of the same permanent and non-permanent members of that body.
One has to appreciate as well that colonialism still existed then in 1948/1949 (as neo-colonialism still do today in many parts of the world, not the least in terms of ideology) and non-Western countries, especially Muslim ones, after the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate early in the century, were not resilient enough to counter a declaration that in parts have been argued to seriously and blasphemously contradict Divine Commandments. There was arguably neither a common voice among Muslims then for various reasons, nor the ability existed for them to stop its ratification, given their conditions then and the disrespect for or ignorance of Islamic points of view that persists to this very day.
When unjustified criticisms were hurled at Brunei for commencing the enforcement of the Syariah Penal Code, one could not help but notice that these were actually against Islam itself. That is the underlying pattern that could be assessed from these criticisms, although many have tried to unconvincingly deny that. As such, given the barrage of criticisms against Islam itself, one would imagine that international Islamic governmental and non-governmental organisations that supposedly uphold the Quran and Sunnah would take serious note of these, issue statements against such contempt and insolence for Islam, and help correct the misconceptions that others have on the religion and its laws.
Then again, the usefulness of that may be questionable.
As His Majesty has rightly noted that “such response (criticisms), of course, is based on a distorted view of Islam. This shouldn’t surprise us because it was foretold in al-Quran and Hadith more than 1,400 years ago. There is no need to waste time waiting or hoping for their distorted view to change or become clear.”
His Majesty added, “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 said the Syariah Penal Code is a revival of Islamic laws once practiced in the Sultanate, and he described the implementation of the code as yet another major development for the country and not what some claim as archaic and a backward step.
One has to remember that historically, the ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) was never in the stone age, the dark age or the middle ages, unlike Europe was. The ummah, through and with the Syariah of Islam, brought about the Golden Age of scientific, technological, and other spheres of progress that subsequently led to the renaissance movement in what we know today as the western world. It is only through upholding steadfastly to the Syariah, as has been historically proven, that such an age could be revived for the benefit of all mankind, by the Will of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).
The Brunei Times/Editorial
Tue, 6 May 2014