After talking with an intellectual Muslim, it seem his view is, getting a Muslim non-Muslime Consensus in Malaysia will be a (very) uphill task, for he said that the current crop of Muslims (assumed in position of authority) are very arrogant.
Then perhaps let's take a step back and try a step back and seek an understanding of the Muslim mind. Below is the Q&A of the press conference held by the PAS President, Dato' Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, on Wednesday, 12 November 2003, after the launching of the blueprint on the introduction of Islamic laws in Malaysia -- a.k.a. the ISD or the Islamic State Document.
What is the most significant difference between what you are expounding through your document and what the Barisan Nasional government has been doing?
The most significant thing is that under the Barisan government, Islam is ruled. What we want is for Islam to rule. We will let the power of Islam rule.
We will not follow the narrow view of Islam where Islam is only one aspect of the country, while what we are expounding is that a country is only one aspect of Islam, which is all encompassing.
You said that your Islamic state document accepts the existing Federal Constitution but with the necessary amendments. What are some of the amendments?
The first thing which needs to be clarified is the word “Islam” which is mentioned in the Constitution.
PAS was involved in giving its views through the memorandum which was hastily drawn up by the Reid Commission just before Independence and was part of the other Islamic groups which pushed for the inclusion of Islam in the Constitution. The problem was that the Reid Commission interpreted Islam according to their understanding.
We have our own understanding of Islam which is different from that of the Commission. The time has come for the word “Islam” in the Constitution to be interpreted accurately in accordance to the Quran and the Sunnah.
Secondly, the word “syariah” which is now placed under the jurisdiction of the states is subjected to limitations. These limitations will have to be amended.
Although the Constitution has undergone several amendments, it does not give power to Islam and syariah.
So the amendment will allow syariah law to be applied in states?
The amendment will allow syariah to apply at both state and Federal levels.
What will be the difference between the syariah law at Federal and state levels?
The amendment will make the Federal and state levels consistent.
We can retain the existing Federalism concept. We realise that there are states where Muslims are not the majority and Federalism is very suitable under such circumstances.
In states where the majority are Muslims, Islamic law can be implemented. In states where non-Muslims form the majority, it will be up to the non-Muslim party ruling the state, but at the same time the non-Muslim leader would allow syariah to be applied to Muslims there.
You said the dualism in the existing legal system would be retained. Do you mean that there will be two sets of laws, one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims?
Yes. That is allowed by the Quran. The Quran allows those who are not Muslims to practise the laws of their own religion and the laws which they choose for themselves.
At the same time, Muslims would be practising laws of their own.
That means non-Muslims will not be subjected to hudud?
You said you welcome comments on your document from everyone. Does that mean the Islamic State concept is not final as far as PAS is concerned?
For us, it is final. What is important is for us to explain. In terms of principle, it is final. On principles which may not be clear, we accept questions and we will explain. On issues which are not part of the principles, we can have common understanding when it comes to implementation.
What is the reaction of the other opposition parties?
We have had initial discussions with those parties where our co-operation is political for the purpose of facing elections. At the same time, we respect the policies, principles and the struggle of each individual party.
You said an Islamic state would emphasise meritocracy. What would happen to the existing policies which give focus to bumiputras such as quotas?
The reality today is that the majority of the poor are bumiputras. Hence, for the initial period, focus will be on the bumiputra.
There may be a situation in the future that the bumiputras will overcome their problems, and the Indians become the majority of the poor. Then, it will be the responsibility of the country to look after the Indian community.
Maybe the Chinese who have been rich for a long time suddenly become bored with their wealth and turn poor. Then, it will become our responsibility to protect the Chinese.
It will depend on the situation. We are not disposing off with the term bumiputra.
What do you mean by saying that the Islamic state emphasises on meritocracy?
Justice is dispensed to anyone who is entitled to it. It is in terms of wealth, education and others.
Does that mean PAS will remove quotas?
That will depend on developments. Quotas are something which cannot be decided upon now.
Does that mean the special rights which are provided for by the Constitution will be amended?
It will continue to be used until the time when the Malays can stand on their feet. Then, it will no longer be needed. There may be a time when other races are weak. Islam prohibits the exploitation of people who are weak.
Will the existing monarchy system be changed?
The Quran maintains the monarchy system of government and also recognises a non-monarchy system. Both systems are recognised by the Quran. The prophets Daud and Sulaiman were kings.
At the same time, Islam requires the establishment of the khilafah (a leadership which is responsible for establishing Islam as the religion and in governing of the state).
What is important is that there is implementation of justice, the spirit of musyawarah (consultation) is present, and within musyawarah, there is democracy.
It is stated that non-Muslims will be allowed to enjoy the rights of their own beliefs and practices. Does this mean that things like gambling and drinking will not be banned?
This has already happened in Terengganu and Kelantan where before we enforce these laws, we hold a dialogue with the non-Muslims and ask them what their religion said about those practices.
When they say their religion also forbade those practices, we will then ban them outright. If their religion allowed those practices, then it will be allowed.
Gambling is forbidden by all religions, so we have banned it. But with drinking and eating pork, there are religions which allow these practices, so they are allowed.
What happens when a crime which is committed involved both Muslims and non-Muslims? For example, what would happen if a non-Muslim killed a Muslim?
Under such a situation, it would be up to the victim of injustice to choose the law. Or the judiciary will have to make a decision on what kind of law will be applied.
Furthermore, for the non-Muslim, there is already a punishment for murder. There are similarities with Islamic law although it is based on the Penal Code.
What about for offences like khalwat (close proximity) or zina (adultery)?
The Muslim will be punished according to hudud while the non-Muslim will be punished according to the law he or she chooses.
Please do not regard this as unfair. According to the teachings of Islam, Muslims who have been punished according to hudud will not be cast into hell in their hereafter. Those who have not been punished by hudud, they will be sent to hell despite being punished under laws that are non-hudud.
That is why Muslims are satisfied with such a situation.
It was stated that the ruler would be a Muslim? Do you mean the King or the Prime Minister has to be Muslim?
Yes. The King and the Prime Minister will have to be Muslim. This is the usual practice throughout the world. A communist country will not choose an American to be president. When the Republican Party wins in the US, they will not choose a Democrat to be president.
If it is Islam that rules, then a Muslim will be the head of state. But the Cabinet can be made up of non-Muslims. This is something which is allowed in Islam.
One more thing is that Islam is not tied up with ethnicity. If there is a Muslim non-Malay who is considered influential and fulfil all requirements of the religion, he can become the head of state.
In fact in history, the rulers of Islamic countries were not always Arabs. The Ottomans were Turks. Mamelukes were former slaves. Where in Western history have you seen an ex-slave becoming leader of a country?
What would be the role of non-Muslims in the Islamic state which you hope to establish? Would they have a role?
Among the roles would be executive, legislative, and others. Non-Muslims can be members of the Cabinet and the administration. They can even be members of Parliament and have a voice and give views. They can be community leaders representing their own communities.
What do you mean by 'the syariah will be the supreme law of the land'?
As the laws are based on the Quran and Sunnah, that means syariah is supreme. But this does not mean everything is rigid. There will be matters which are “movable” and those which are “immovable.”
What are immovable are the principles. But there are things, which are movable such as time, culture as well as laws and these will depend on the opinions of Islamic jurors.
But as stated earlier, Muslims will be totally subjected to Islamic law while non-Muslims will be subjected to laws of their own religion.
There will be rules which will apply to all, and those which will only apply to parts of the community.
What about atheists?
For those without a religion, there will be laws. There are laws which are connected with religion, and there are those which are applied generally, such as traffic laws, where a green light means everyone can move. These concern public interest and morals.
Why do you think non-Muslims will trust that the contents of this document today will be implemented and that there will not be any “surprises”, such as the implementation of the kharaj (tax imposed on non-Muslims) in Terengganu?
You have to look at things practically when it comes to Terengganu and Kelantan. Kharaj is a new word which we introduced and many do not understand its meaning. It is connected to taxation. Muslims are required to pay zakat. Non-Muslims cannot be required to pay zakat because it has a spiritual aspect. That is why they have to pay tax. Tax in Arabic, it is call kharaj. It’s the same. Land tax is called kharaj. It is just a term.
How would this document help PAS in the coming general election?
To realise our aspirations in the general election would depend upon a manifesto which we will reveal to the people. It will depend on our common understanding between the various opposition parties.
The document on the Islamic state is more general.
Will there be other documents on the Islamic state after today?
As and when it is needed. If there are people who request any explanation in writing, we will do so.
There will also be those who require explanation through practice as there are matters in Islam which may be difficult to understand if it is in writing. And that will require us to be in power.