Friday, 14 October 2011

'Islamicising' Penal Code not impossible

Dato Seri Laila Jasa Professor Dr Anwarullah at the International Seminar on Islamic Law yesterday in BridEx Hall, Jerudong. Picture: BT/Hana Roslan
Friday, October 14, 2011
BRUNEI'S Penal Code can be amended or substituted with new sections "so as to provide hudud, qisas and diyat according to Islamic Criminal Law", stated one of Brunei's most respected experts in Islamic Law at yesterday's session of the International Seminar on Islamic Law.

Dato Seri Laila Jasa Professor Dr Anwarullah informed participants that 61 out of 511 sections of the Penal Code can be amended or substituted, while 450 sections are not contrary to Islamic Law and can be retained.

In his paper "Differences Among the Schools of Islamic Fiqh and their Effect on the Implementation of Islamic Criminal Law in Brunei Darussalam", Prof Dr Anwarullah said although Brunei adheres to the Mazhab Syafi'i school of Islamic Fiqh of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah, any ruling that opposed public interest under this school, can still be appropriated under the remaining schools of Fiqh that is recognised by Brunei, namely Mazhab Maliki, Mazhab Hanafi and Mazhab Hanbali.

The specialist from the Legislative Unit under Ministry of Religious gave an example under the Penal Code Section 302, which provides for death punishment for committing murder whether the individual is Muslim or non-Muslim, which is also in accordance to the opinion of Mazhab Hanafi where both are equal in terms of homicide.

However, under Mazhab Syafi'i if a Muslim murders a non-Muslim, he will not be punished with death (qisas), but rather, according to Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah, the heir of the victim can pardon the offender with or without compensation. "It is therefore suggested that a new section 302A may be added to the Penal Code to provide that in the case of murder, the heir of the victim may pardon the offender with or without compensation,"he said.

"If the victim has no heir, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam may pardon the offender with diyat(compensation)". The professor also cited other examples which include theft, causing hurt or bodily pain and zina (adultery) as well as rape.

In a separate interview, the professor said that "Islamicising" the Penal code "was very possible" in Brunei. "It is very easy(to implement the provisions in the Penal code). I think maybe by next year, InsyaAllah, this will happen. The Brunei Islamic Religious Council (Muib) and the Legislation Unit under MoRA have done very big work on it,"he said.

"There is really not a big difference (in the added provisions). Ninety per cent of the time we adhere to Mazhab Syafi'i," he said.

Asked how these provisions could be taken into effect, he said that it should be a collaborative work between Brunei's Islamic Religious Council (Muib), the Legislative Unit and the Attorney General's Office (AGC). The lecture took place at the BridEx Hall in Jerudong. The Brunei Times