A very popular topic debated currently, not only by the legal fraternity but also the general public, is regarding Syariah laws and Hudud laws. Ask anyone, and he or she would most likely have an opinion on whether these laws should be extended to the non-Muslims or only have jurisdiction over those who profess the religion of Islam.
ï¿½Syariahï¿½ carries the literal meaning of a waterhole where animals gather daily to drink or the straight path as stated in the Quran. In the Islamic context, however, it refers to the sum total of Islamic laws which were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and which were recorded in the Quran. As Islamic laws became more entrenched in Malaysiaï¿½s legal systems, new offences were created and harsher corrective punishment for Muslims was introduced. These new punishable crimes under Syariah law included eating in public during the month of Ramadan, consuming alcoholic beverages in public, homosexuality and lesbianism.
There are certain acts which are strictly forbidden and are sanctioned by punishments in the Quran. These acts are unlawful intercourse (zina), false accusation of unlawful intercourse (kadhf), drinking wine (shrub al-khamr), theft (sarika) and highway robbery (katï¿½ al-tarik). Hudud (plural of ï¿½haddï¿½) is the punishments laid down for these offences, which include the death penalty, cutting off the offenderï¿½s hand and/or foot and flogging with various number of lashes. According to Schacht (1982), the hadd is the right or claim of Allah and thus, there is no pardon or amicable settlement for such offences.
The Islamic revival over the past twenty years has caused a strong movement to reapply the Islamic law of hadd. In 1973, Libya amended its penal code to include the penalties of stoning to death for fornication and cutting off of the hand for theft. In 1983, Pakistan and the Sudan took similar steps.
Under Syariah law, there are many different schools of thought that emphasises on different teachings. There are four main Madh-habs which are emphasised on under Syariah law, namely the Hanafee Madh-hab, the Maalikee Madh-hab, the Shaafiï¿½ee Madh-hab and the Hambalee Madh-hab.
The Hanafee Madh-hab, which was founded by the scholar Abu Haneefah, is based on the principle of Shooraa (group discussion). Imaam Abu Haneefah would present a legal problem to his students for debate and discussion and tell them to record its solution whenever they arrived at a unified position. The Maalikee Madh-hab, founded by Maalik ibn Anas ibn ï¿½Aamir, is based on the narration of the Hadiths and the discussion of their meanings in the in the context of the problems of that day. Imaam Ash-Shaafiï¿½ee founded the Shaafiï¿½ee Madh-hab and combined the Fiqh of Hijaaz with that of Iraq and dictated it to his students in the form of a book called al-Hujjah (The Evidence). The Hambalee Madh-hab is attributed to Imaam Ahmad whose teaching method consisted of dictating Hadeeths from his vast collection known as al-Musnad. He would subsequently apply the Hadeeths or rulings to various existing problems.
The main aim of this article is to define what both Syariah and Hudud laws are and to analyse how these laws are currently applied in Malaysia. This article will also briefly explore the history of the Malaysian Legal System and how Syariah law has been included in it over the years. In Malaysia, Syariah law only applies to the Muslims. However, there have been suggestions to implement these laws onto the non-Muslims also. This article will discuss about this matter as well as explore the challenges and difficulties of doing so.
What are Syariah laws and Hudud laws?
What is Syariah law? It is the personal law that provides guidance for the vast majority of Muslims. Throughout centuries, many scholars have tried to come out with some accurate definitions, subsequently, they realised that there are no complete definitions. Basically, the term ï¿½Syariahï¿½ is known as Law of Allah. This divine law draws no distinction between religious and secular life. Thus, Syariah not only covers religious rituals, but also different aspects of day-to-day life, politics, business and other social issues. Meanwhile, there are some academics who give a broader definition of Syariah. This reflects Muslim scholars have tried their best to understand and practise their faith.
Although different definitions have been given over years, all of these definitions seem to have one thing in common, that is Syariah is not static. Its interpretations and applications have changed with time so that they are in line with the norms of societies. The understanding of Syariah is based on how different Muslim communities interpret it. The absent of an official document allows the ideal law of God to be interpreted by Muslim scholars aimed toward justice, fairness and mercy. Still, there are certain laws which are regarded as concrete in all relevant situations. The ban against drinking liquor is the most significant example. An interpretation of Syariah is considered to be valid so far as it protects and advocates for life, property, family, faith, and intellect of Muslims. Traditionally, some Muslim communities overwhelmingly accept differences of opinion outside these core values, which is why Syariah has survived for centuries as an ongoing series of conversations. Syariah has served Muslims who have lived in every society and in every corner of the planet.
Under Syariah law, there is no retaliation for parents and grandparents who kill their offspring. A majority of Muslim scholars have the opinion that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled, regardless of the likelihood of temptation. It is unlawful or ineligible for women to be alone with a marriageable man. In a situation where a woman claims that she is having her period but her husband does not believe her, it is lawful for her husband to have sexual intercourse with her under Syariah law. Syariah law not only applies to family members, it too is applicable in business and trade. According to Imam Jaï¿½far Sadiq, a person who wishes to engage in business should learn its rules and laws, and if he makes any transaction without learning them, he may suffer from entering into a void or doubtful transaction. The line between haram and halal is thin in business. In most cases, Muslims should have proper religious training on how to do business in the Islamic way. Such training is verified by Imam Ali when he ordered flogging of a Fish Merchant who was selling fish scales and pleaded ignorance.
On the other hand, what is Hudud law? Basically, crimes under Syariah law can be broken down into 3 categories. Hudud crimes are the most serious crimes while tazir crimes are the least serious crimes. Hudud crimes are crimes which are punishable by a pre-established punishment found in the Quran. No reducing of punishment will be granted to a Hudud criminal. Hudud crimes have no minimum or maximum punishments attached to them. Generally, under Islamic law, if one has committed a crime, he will know what the punishment will be as these punishments are not set by judges. Hudud punishments can only be imposed to those who confess to the crime or where there are enough witnesses to the crime. In most cases, two witnesses are required. However, in a case of adultery, at least four witnesses are needed for judges to impose such punishments. In cases where there is doubt, judges have to decide in favour of the offender. If necessary, lesser taï¿½zir crime can be applied. If there is no confession to a crime or not enough witnesses to the crime, Islamic law requires a hudud crime to be punished as a taï¿½zir crime.
For offences with regard to zina, fornication and adultery are punishable with one hundred lashes and stoning to death respectively. For Muslims, enforcement of such punishments can promote the institution of marriage while adhere to moral values and curb immoral sexual activities and unwanted diseases. In contrast, under the Penal Code, consensus to have sexual intercourse is not an offence. In the case of Intoxication, forty to eighty lashes will be imposed under Hudud law. This penalty helps to balance and stabilise families, and holds the offender responsible and accountable for his conduct and helps decrease the number of road accidents. When it comes to highway robbery, which is known as hirabah, the punishments involved is the cutting of hands and feet from the opposite side or in some serious circumstances, be exiled from the land. Muslims are of the opinion that these punishments are able to promote a peaceful neighbourhood as the fear of severe penalty would prevent such offences especially when the government is serious in its implementation.
There are countries that incorporate strict forms of Syariah Law into their society. These countries usually have largest Muslim populations. For instance, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and so on. Other nations just incorporate some level of Syariah into their community.
Having parallel Syariah legal systems is quite common in most Western nations. In Canada, polygamy is a common practice among Muslims. Although this practice is in contrast with the local culture, imams still refuse to condemn or attempt to stop it. Apart from that, the Syariah way of practising finance is also carried out in many nations around the world. However, there are other Islamic nations that do not apply Syariah such as countries like Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The overall implementation of the Syariah law is meant to create a just society where the law and people live in peace and harmony. For Islamic scholars, they consider the punishments as described under Islamic law can serve as a deterrent to future crimes, however, many Western views consider the punishments as too harsh or severe.
In reality, there are numbers Muslim regimes still adhere sternly to Hudud law while the rest remain in poverty, ignorance and ill health. West Asia is the example society that have extremely high rate of illiteracy, totally autocratic, does not observe minimal public accountability while denies the ordinary people any form of participation in government.
Syariah Laws and Hudud Laws in Malaysia
In Islam, the punishment and crime are categorised into fixed and discretionary. Allah has endorsed hudud and qisas as crimes, therefore is fixed and cannot be changed. Zina (unlawful intercourse), qadhf (false accusation of zina), drinking intoxicants (shurb al-khamr), theft (sariga), robbery (hiraba), apostasy (ridda) and rebellion (baqhy) are encompassed within the hudud crime.
According to the Hadith, if evidence is proven beyond reasonable doubt, only then will the punishment for crime be allowed to be imposed to the person. Besides that, Qisas is crime which related to life taking or action causes body harm and can be punishable by blood money (diya) or retaliation. A choice is given to the victim or relative of the victim to either forgive or reduce penalty towards the accused. Another limb of the punishment is taï¿½zir. It is regarded as a discretionary punishment in Islam or in a literal interpretation, it is prohibition. The judge is authorised to inflict such punishment on the culprit as seems to be most suitable in view of the circumstances of each particular case.
Judges in Syariah Courts are the authority who have been conferred the power to be expert in resolving legal disputes which contravene Syariah law. To be a judge in the Syariah courts, he must be a Syariah court judge for at least 10 years or a kadhi or an outstanding Islamic scholar, therefore this requires a person to have an abundance of knowledge regarding Islamic law. According to the Federal Constitution, Syariah courts have jurisdictions on matters enumerated in List II of the State List of the Ninth Schedule.
Based on the Quran and hadith, it was stated that if any commission of crimes were punishable under hudud, then the punishment can be stoning, whipping, amputation of hand and feet. But in Malaysia, there is still a strong and firm standing of the majority to oppose the implementation of hudud law. This is due to its inhumane nature of its punishment and it is regarded as unsuitable for the current society, and does not fit the values and circumstances of the present generation. Tun Dr. Mahathir, one of Malaysiaï¿½s former Prime Ministers, had made his stand that imposing hudud laws is not fit into the multi-racial country like Malaysia. He had further explained that ï¿½In Islam, the most important thing is justice. When you judge, you must make sure justice has been served. If you judge knowing clearly that this is unjust, then I think it is un-Islamic.ï¿½
Looking further into the matter, the Syariah Criminal Enactment (II) 1993 of Kelantan and the Syariah Criminal Enactment 2003 of Terengganu give the green light for the state authorities to apply hudud law. However, any enforcement was suspended due to its inconsistency with the Federal Constitution. This is because the enactment of penal laws is within the jurisdiction of the federal authority and not the state. Furthermore, the criminal jurisdiction of the Syariah Court, as noted earlier, has been restricted by the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
Malaysia is a country which practices constitutional supremacy which means that any law that is passed under the legislation must not be contrary to the Federal Constitution and if it is, it shall then automatically be ultra vires and struck off. Malaysiaï¿½s laws are mainly based on the common law legal system as a result of colonization by the British. The Federal Constitution was also drafted by the Reid Commission which had laid down the fundamental rights and legal framework. Malaysiaï¿½s judiciary branch practices a dual justice system which comprises of the secular laws of (criminal and civil) and the Syariah laws (only subjected to Muslims). The laws regarding crimes are generally based on the Indian Criminal Code whereas the land laws are basically derived from the Australian Torrens system.
On the other hand, the insertion of Syariah law is authorised and recognised in our Federal Constitution under Article 121(1A) which gives power to Syariah Court to have equal statutory position as civil courts and the latter has no ground to interfere with any matter related to jurisdiction of Syariah Court. In Malaysia, the jurisdiction of Syariah law can be seen in various areas, governing only the Muslims, like marriage, divorce, custody and guardianship, maintenance of children, matrimonial properties, alimony, laws of succession, probate and administration in relating to distribution, trust deed in respect of gift inter vivos. With regard to criminal laws the jurisdiction of the Syariah laws are limited and confined to offences in respect of polygamous marriage, close proximity (khalwat), indecent dressing (tutup aurat) and behaviour, violation of the "pillars of Islamï¿½ such as not fasting during Ramadan, not attending Friday prayers and desertion by either spouse or apostasy.
Islam and its law were embraced by the citizens along the Peninsular Malaysia coast, and Port Kelang in the year C.E. 878. After the initial introduction of the Islam religion, it was spread by Muslim scholars (ulama) from one district to another. They opened a religious training centre in a small hut to spread their Islamic practice and knowledge. Islam in Malaysia follows the school of thought of the Syafiee, which was known as the Syafiee Madhab at that time. There are also many Muslims in the country who do not follow any specific school of thought, for example Perlis, who follows only the Qurï¿½an and the Sunnah. There are also a number of Muslims who have the opinion that the small hut schools could not deal with the challenge of the modernization of the country. After independence in 1957, many different laws have been introduced including the Federal Constitution which provides for Islamic and Syariah Law up till today.
The Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1988, which came into force on the 10th of June 1988, made amendments to Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution. Prior to the said amendment, the civil courts were given the Syariah Courts jurisdictions apart from their jurisdictions. The interference of civil court in Syariah matters has caused great concern within the citizens who are interested and involved in Syariah Law. The amended clause was aimed at granting the Syariah courts special and exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate on matters concerning the law within the jurisdiction. This also prevents the civil courts from reviewing decisions of the Syariah Court. However, the phase ï¿½within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courtsï¿½ in this provision is ambiguous provides many ambiguity. In the Federal Court case of Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja v Ketua Pengarah Penjara, Malaysia & Anor  2 MLJ 241, it was held that the jurisdiction of the civil court is defeated in cases relating to criminal jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts. The prosecutor may either prosecute the offender under civil legislation or Islamic law legislation at its own discretion, on condition that the offender is not prosecuted for the same offence twice.
There were two significant effects from this amended act. Firstly, it has established two sets of hierarchy between Syariah Law and Civil Law; and also ensures that there is no collision and overlapping of jurisdictions between these two. This act was intended to provide a better platform and also raise the status of Syariah Law and Syariah Courts. Hence, no interference of Civil Law and Syariah Law should occur. However, there are some unresolved issues that have been raised concerning the relationship between the Syariah Law and Civil Law.
The first issue is the question as to who has the jurisdiction to determine whether the matter is using Syariah jurisdiction or not? This issue was also applied in the Malaysian case of Tongiah Jumali v Kerajaan Negeri Johor  5 MLJ 41 whereby the plaintiff who was born as a Muslim, subsequently converted into Christian and tied the knot with the 2nd plaintiff who is a Hindu. The plaintiffs then seek declaration from the High Court stating that the marriage is valid under Malaysian Law. The court was reluctant to discuss this issue and raised another issue; whether the plaintiffï¿½s conversion out of Islam was lawful or not? According to the Johor Family Law Enactment, there is no specific provision dealing with matters concerning the conversion out of Islam. However, the court held that Islam is a matter that should be dealt by the Syariah Courts and they will have jurisdictions of this matter. This issue was also raised in the matter concerning the death one of the two men who were the first Malaysians who climbed Mt Everest, Mohandas Nagappan. He was buried in a Hindu manner by his family and relatives. Upon his death, he had registered as an Islam and has converted himself into a Muslim without the knowledge of his family. Subsequently, his corpse was dug up again and buried in an Islamic way.
Another issue left unresolved, is where a case should go where a party is a Muslim and the other party is not. In the case of Saravanan a/l Thangathoray v Subashini a/p Rajasingam  2 MLJ 705, it is concerning a married Hindu couple who had two children. The plaintiff subsequently converted into Islam and attempted to convert the children into Islam. The defendant was disappointed and brought the matter to the High Court to seek injunction to prevent the husband from converting the childrenï¿½s religion. The defendant then appealed at the Court of Appeal but the court refused to help with the application and advised her to appeal at the Syariah Court. The defendant did not do so, and proceeded to appeal in the Federal Court which held that the conversion of one party in Islam did not automatically dissolve the marriage. The plaintiff cannot use the reason of being a Muslim, as a shield for the childï¿½s religion. Previously, if one party converts, all the personal law will go to the Syariah Court. This means that the plaintiff should settle the issue of custody of the child in the civil courts first.
Implementation of Syariah and Hudud Laws in Malaysia
In our opinion, we strongly think that in Malaysia, if Syariah and hudud laws are implemented or applied onto the non-Muslims, it will not be workable.
The first reason for this being so is the nature of our country. The demographics of Malaysia are represented by the multiple ethnic groups that exist in this country such as the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans. In the event that such laws are implemented on the non-Muslims, it would be unfair for them. It would be a similar situation as asking a cobbler who mends shoes to becoming a fishmonger who sells fish. The different ethnics in Malaysia apply and practise different religions which are of their own origins and customs which have been passed down from generation to generation. This somehow leads to unity because the different ethnics are allowed to practise their respective religions. Unity of all the races in the country will ensure Malaysia's sovereignty.
Furthermore, in Malaysia, although Islam is the largest and official religion of Malaysia and Malaysia is a multi-religious society, the Malaysian constitution guarantees religious freedom. Despite the recognition of Islam as the official religion of the state, the first four Prime Ministers have stressed that Malaysia functions as a secular state. A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. This means that implementation of these laws onto non-Muslims in Malaysia is unnecessary.
The Federal Constitution is supreme. The rule of law must apply, where no man should be above the law. Article 11 of the Constitution provides for the freedom of religion. Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion. It means that every citizen of Malaysia has their very own right to apply, believe and practise their religion as it is stated in the highest law of the land, the Federal Constitution. Other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.
Another reason why we think that such laws will not be workable in Malaysia is clearly seen in the definition. Only Muslims are affected by (Syariah) Islamic law in Malaysia. All Malays in Malaysia are officially Muslims. When reference is made to Muslims, convert Muslims by virtue of marriage and voluntary conversions are included. Muslims in Malaysia are governed by Islamic personal and family law, which has been in existence since the 15th century. Islamic laws have been administered, not only by the Syariah Courts, but also the Civil Courts. However by Article 121 (1A) of the Constitution of Malaysia, today, exclusive jurisdiction has been given to the Syariah Courts in the administration of Islamic laws. The Syariah laws in Malaysia do not apply to non-Muslims.
We may then raise the issue of whether the introduction of the criminal aspect of Syariah by the respective northern states discriminates against Christians or any other religious group. It is to be noted that all the concerned governors who have introduced Syariah criminal law have expressly stated that the law would not apply to non-Muslims. The declaration that Syariah applies to Muslims alone has not been borne out by practice in Malaysia, where Christians have repeatedly fallen victims to the law they have nothing to do with. For instance, Syariah forbids fornication, sexy or revealing dresses by females, and consumption of alcohol. Many Christians have been molested for not complying with dress codes, alcohol in commercial quantities belonging to Christian merchants have been confiscated or destroyed. Thus, one can definitively say that in its application in Malaysia, Syariah impacts negatively on non-Muslims.
In truth, introduction of Syariah to public law sphere in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society as Malaysia is problematic. This is especially so where the introduction is not preceded by vital intellectual examination of practical issues. However, we must also realize that Syariah application is inevitable where Muslims constitute a sizeable number.
The legal systems of the world today are generally based on one of three basic systems: civil law, common law, and religious law ï¿½ or combinations of these. However, the legal system of each country is shaped by its unique history and so incorporates individual variations of customs and traditions. In Malaysia, the government has incorporated the common law system while the personal law of Muslims is based on Syariah laws. In order to provide a model or regulatory framework as reference to the application of Syariah laws and hudud laws, it is more efficient to find a country that has the same type of legal system as Malaysia which would be Brunei or Pakistan. Both of these countriesï¿½ legal systems are based on English Common Law while their personal laws are subjected to Syariah laws.
In Brunei, Syariah law supersedes the civil law and it regulates all of life. The national constitution states that, ï¿½The religion of Brunei Darussalam shall be the Muslim religion. Other than that, 2012, Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) proposed the introduction of an Islamic Criminal Act to deal with crimes while maintaining the implementation of existing civil and religious legislations. It was conferred upon that Islamic law was not new in Brunei as it had been implemented since the 17th century, but with the interference of the foreign powers, they were forced to abandon it. Brunei had always been an Islamic state since the reign of the first Sultan of Brunei and had been making amendments to its own law, the Brunei Canons (Hukum Kanun Brunei) which has similarities with Malaysiaï¿½s Hukum Kanun Melak. Sir Richard Windstedt noted that the Brunei Canons, dated 1709, was similar to the old Malay Laws which could also be found in Riau, Pahang and Pontianak. With such similarities, it makes it a better point for the Malaysian government to set Brunei as a model of reference if there will be the implementation of Syariah Law and hudud laws on non-Muslims.
Brunei also faces a similar situation as in Malaysia as Brunei has established the Syairah Court under the command of the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. But the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court is particularly influential in the area of family law; source of such law is the same as Malaysia which is the Shafiï¿½i school of Sunni Islam view. Recently the Sultan of Brunei made it clear that he wants criminal law to be based of the Islamic Law to be re-established and compatible along the civil law. To put it simply, both the Civil Court and the Syariah Court should be able to be run parallel without affecting one or the other. This is the uniqueness of Brunei.
But all in all, although the constitution guarantees and implement religious freedom, other laws and policies have eventually restricted this right, and in practice, the government of Brunei generally enforces these restrictions. The government continued its longstanding policies to promote the Shafiï¿½i school of Sunni Islam and discourages other religions. Other laws and policies have placed restrictions on religious groups that do not adhere to the Shafiï¿½i school of Sunni Islam while the government continued to favour the propagation of Shafi'i beliefs and practices, particularly through public events and the education system. Non-Muslims were prohibited from receiving religious education in private religious schools. Other than that, non-Muslims also face social and sometimes official pressure to conform to Islamic guidelines on behaviour and were forbidden to proselytize. In the past, non-Muslims who proselytized were arrested or detained and sometimes held without charges for extended periods of time. Non-Muslim religious leaders have stated that they were conferred upon to undue influence and duress, and at times, some were even threatened with fines or imprisonment. There also exist reports of harassment of those who are non-Muslims. Despite constitutional provisions providing for the full and unconstrained exercise of religious freedom, the government has banned the importation of religious teaching materials or scriptures such as the Bible and refused permission to establish or build churches, temples, or shrines. The government allows only the practice of the official Shafi'i school of Islam. It has banned several other religious groups that it considers deviant. As the conclusions, laws and policies imposed generally limited the access to religious literature, places of worship, and public religious gatherings for non-Muslims. The government, over the centuries have continued its public campaign in support of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) belief system, claiming its superiority over other religious and social belief systems.
Personally, we believe that it would violate the right to the freedom of religion if inevitably the Syariah laws and hudud laws are imposed on everybody including the non-Muslims. To a certain extent, if implemented, there will certainly be a form of harassment or oppression on the non-Muslims if they were to be subjected to these laws for the purpose of general control. Therefore, it is our opinion that it is better for the Syariah laws and hudud laws to be implemented and imposed only on the part of Muslims and not including non-Muslims.
Strictly speaking, the compilation of the Qurï¿½an does not actually contain a comprehensive legal code. Neither does it make available express answers to all the problems that are fundamental to an organised society. During the era of the Prophet Muhammad, the legal injunctions of the Qurï¿½an were basically tribal customs that were given an Islamic sensibility and moral legitimacy.
Syariah and hudud laws are indeed an essential part of a Muslimï¿½s life. Syariah is the body of revealed laws which are found in both the Qurï¿½an and the Sunnah and it is fixed and unchangeable. Syariah laws are general; they lay down basic principles regarding the conduct and behaviour for their followers. Non-Muslims, who were Jews and Christians, were given the legal status of dhimmis under Syariah law. This status was for the people who worshipped the same god as the Muslims. These people were permitted to worship in their individual places of worship without interference. Although they were in many ways inferior in status in comparison to their Muslim neighbours, dhimmis were still able to live in security with the freedom to worship and practise their own religions.
This shows that these laws should be limited to only Muslims as the non-Muslims have their own religious laws and regulations to adhere to. It would indeed pose a string of problems and conflicts if such laws were to be implemented on non-Muslims as well. This would ultimately infringe oneï¿½s freedom of religion which is indeed one of the fundamental liberties a person should have. Malaysia is indeed a secular state, and even though Islam is provided as the official religion of the state, it does not mean that all citizens are subject to such religious laws.
Even though Islamic law is still considered as religious law, it has evolved with time and has now embraced western codes into its mainframe. It is positive law, and requires credible proof and witnesses. It changes through judicial precedents particularly in the Syariah courts that are perceived to carry out special authority, and through new jurisprudence. Although the implementation of Syariah and hudud laws on non-Muslims would not be a wise initiative, the government can consider adopting certain characteristics of Syariah and hudud law into civil law in order to improve the legal and justice system in the country. The fundamental aim in imposing punishment under hudud law is the protection of public interests which is determined by the human conscience and reasoning with the assistance of moral values.