Recently, Kelantan has implemented 24 new offences for their Syariah Criminal Code Enactment that involves activities that are considered prohibited in Islam. These laws were implemented on 1 November 2021.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Syariah law, it just means that it’s the penal code, but for Muslims. So, as Muslims, we have two codes to obey — both penal and Syariah. Yay. For the most part, they’re similar, like theft and murder charges and all that, but it gets a little bit complicated on the Syariah side because it involves religion.
The new Syariah offences for Kelantan under the Kelantan’s Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019, states that Syariah courts will have the power to hear the cases in which the punishments include a jail term of not more than three years and a fine of up to RM5,000 or six strokes of the rotan.
These are all fine and dandy and not really that big of a deal, in my opinion. Because, hey, you break it, you buy it, right? But the thing that was a tad bit concerning to me isn’t exactly the punishments for disobeying the Syariah law themselves, but just how vague the offences are.
Are Some Of These Really Real?
Take number 13, for example: “Kata-kata yang boleh memecah keamanan” (words that can disrupt peace). What exactly does that mean? In what context can I apply that statement to when I’m in court?
Let’s say hypothetically, I have a neighbour that would constantly gossip about me to people around the neighbourhood, am I allowed to bring them to court? Or is it more like there’s a fight in the area and it’s disturbing my downtime of watching Netflix on a weekend, and I’m allowed to send a court order to those neighbours in question?
Or number 14: “Memutuskan hubungan kerabat” (severing ties with relatives) here means that if I decide to not talk to any of my family members/close friends again, they can drag me to court on the basis that they were whiny babies who just crave attention?
There should be some structure to these laws, at least. I can’t be expected to interpret them the way I understand them, can I? What chaos that would cause! They can’t just give us vague statements and expect us to understand which number our problems lie on.
Anyone can be charged then, can’t they?
And I feel like number 22 should be talked about. This is one of the things that caught my eye within the discussion of the new laws. The vagueness of mentioning “menuduh melakukan zina dan liwat (accusing someone of having sexual relations)” but offering no further explanation regarding the statement is very worrying.
Does it mean that you can accuse someone of having sexual intercourse with you and get punished or God forbid, rape you, and be charged for it? How am I supposed to present myself in court if I don’t know the details of the law?
What about number 15: “Derhaka kepada ibu bapa”(disobeying your parents). Okay, this statement, I understand. It’s a sin for us Muslims to disobey our parents, which isn’t something I’m going to question.
Like our Prophet Muhammad PBUH had said, “Should I not inform you about the most grievous of the grave sins? Ascribing partners to Allah and disobedience to parents…”
My parents probably ghost wrote this part of the law knowing that I’d make an article about it. Sike mum, this is one of the ones that I agree with.
The truth of the matter is, most of these laws are things that are illegal anyway. I get that laws are written down because people are sometimes a little slow to grasp common sense, but are they really this slow?
Among the laws that were mentioned that I feel needed to be pointed out are necrophilia and beastiality. Because buddy, you’re taking the term “plenty of fish in the sea” much too literally if your only choice of a one night stand is with four-legged beings with tails. And also, dead people? Really?! I’m not one to kink shame but man, sort your life out.
Rules are Rules are Rules
While these Syariah laws are only applicable to Kelantan (for the time being, at least), it is always important to educate yourself on your own state laws. Familiarise yourself with things that you should avoid doing, for your own sake.
You might not like it, but ultimately, as it states, laws are put there for a reason.
Some laws are implemented to stress on the consequences of your actions and that what you do will affect you for the rest of your life. Or worse, what happens if it affects the lives of others as well?