HOTEL personnel are advised to carry out their duties professionally when they are alone with guests in their rooms to avoid being accused of khalwat (close proximity), or other offences under the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013.
There are times when staff, particularly those in housekeeping, have to be alone with guests in the rooms and the matter of whether or not this constituted as khalwat was raised yesterday during a question and answer session following a briefing on the Islamic penal code for The Empire Hotel & Country Club personnel.
One of the panel members, Syariah Legal Officer Deputy Senior Counsel from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) Hjh Hasanah Hj Hasan, reassured the audience that as long they act within the boundary of their profession and job description, and there is no suspicion that they are committing an immoral act, then it is not considered as an offence.
Khalwat refers to an unmarried man and a woman cohabiting, or living in confinement or isolating themselves in close proximity that can lead to suspicion that they are committing an immoral act.
This applies to any man and or woman or more who are not mahram (a relative who they not permitted to marry such as a father or brother/mother or sister).
The law states that any Muslim who commits khalwat is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $4,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both. Any non-Muslim who commits khalwat with a Muslim is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $4,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.
Other concerns raised include time for staff to perform their religious duties such as Friday prayers (for male Muslims) and break fast (during Ramadhan).
Hjh Hasanah said that accommodating the religious obligations of Muslim employees, such as giving them time and facilities in which to perform them, is the reponsibility of the management of respective organisations.
A male mukallaf (accountable to hold religious responsibilities) who is caught not performing the Friday prayers, without uzur syar’ie (difficulties acceptable in syariah) or without any reasonable excuse, can be fined under the newly-enforced Syariah Penal Code Order.
Inciting or persuading any Muslim to neglect their religious duty, such as persuading them not to or prevent any Muslim from attending any mosque to perform Friday prayer, is also an offence.
However, male staff may occasionally exempt themselves from attending the obligatory Friday prayers (which must be performed in a congregation) in order to work, the panel said.
There was also a question on whether the hotel’s dress code for women was acceptable under the law. The panel clarified that there is no specific offence in the Order regarding dress code or clothing.
However, any clothing that constitute indecency may fall under Section 197 of the Syariah Penal Code Order (indecent behaviour) which carries a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not excedding $2,000 or both.
The other three speakers were from the Ministry of Religious Affairs: Pg Khairul Nazri Pg Hj Shahbudin from the Islamic Legal Unit; Deputy Prosecutor Syarie, Mahani Hj Suhaili; and Syar’ie Legal Officer, Hjh Safa Safiyah Hj Gharif.
The first two hours explained the offences contained in the Syariah Penal Code Order. Some 225 personnel attended the briefing.
The Brunei Times
Fri, 23 May 2014