Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Syariah Law in Brunei : "The penal code (Syariah Law) - with implementation starting six months from now - will prescribe stoning for adulterers, amputation for theft and flogging for drinking alcohol and for abortion."

His Majesty delivering his royal speech
Pic:BT/Saiful Omar

Said : His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darrusalam while delivering his royal speech at this year's Knowledge Convention yesterday, reported the Brunei Times.

The Brunei Times has reported that Brunei Darussalam is enforcing its first Syariah Penal Code six months from now. According to the news report, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darrusalam has announced that the Islamic laws will be introduced in a phased manner, punishing criminal offences such as theft, apostasy and illicit sexual relations, will come into force in six months. The Syariah penal code prescribes stoning for adulterers, amputation for theft and flogging for drinking alcohol and for abortion.

According to the newspaper, the Sultan made the announcement in his titah or royal speech during this year's Knowledge Convention (Majlis Ilmu) held on 23 October, 2013. The monarch officially signed the new legislation - the Syariah Penal Code - at the launch of the Knowledge Convention (Majlis Ilmu) 2013 yesterday. The code outlines the punishment for Hudud crimes, where punishment has been ordained by Al-Quran and the Sunnah (deeds and sayings) of Prophet Muhammad. Hudud crimes cover areas including theft, illicit sexual relations, making unproven accusations of illicit sex, causing physical hurt, drinking intoxicants, apostasy, and acts contrary to Islamic beliefs.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan being briefed on one of the exhibits.
An exhibition held alongside the Knowledge Convention showed posters explaining certain penal codes to be carried out. The posters displayed a historical portrayal of how the Syariah Panel Code came into existence. There was also a demonstration of lashing carried out by prisons personnel where a dummy was struck with a cane, showing the proper movements and the specific measurements of the cane. (watch video here)

According to the Brunei Times, the legislation states any person that sells food, drink or tobacco for immediate consumption in a public place during fasting hours can be punished by a fine of up to $4,000 and/or a prison term not more than a year. Additionally, Muslims who insult, mock, or deny the teachings Al-Quran or hadith (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) are liable to imprisonment of up to 30 years and 40 strokes of the cane. Other offences such as theft can be punishable by amputation of the right hand, if the property stolen amounts to/exceeds the nisab (required minimum value) and two credible witnesses besides the victim are produced. The recent ban on Muslim-owned restaurants serving food during the fasting hours of Ramadhan is covered by the Syariah law. Syariah law is generally confined to Muslims, but can extend to non-Muslims if they are involved in aiding or abetting an offence committed by a Muslim.

The Sultan, according to the newsreport, also said : “This Act without doubt, is now part of the great history of our nation. The code is a special guidance from Allah (SWT) to us all. Indeed this guidance is wholly Allah’s (SWT) right to bestow upon us. By the grace of Allah (SWT), with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah (SWT) is therefore being fulfilled."

The monarch said the country will continue to plan and develop “in our own way” and that Syariah laws will guarantee justice and well-being for all Muslim citizens. “The step we are taking, does not in anyway change our policies. As a member of the family of nations, we will continue to work together with our friends wherever they may be, to establish more cordial and harmonious relationships based on mutual respect,” he added.

The State Mufti, following Sultan's announcement, said : "The Syariah law created by Allah (SWT) guarantees justice for everyone and safeguards their well-being. In his inaugural lecture at the Knowledge Convention, he said : "both Muslims and non-Muslims are protected under Islamic criminal law as it is all-encompassing and ensures justice as well as security for everyone," adding further that “The dzimmi, non-Muslims living in a Muslim territory, are never to be hurt, they are not to be tyrannised or persecuted by anyone; to do so is a sin,” citing a narration of Islam’s final messenger, Prophet Muhammad.

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