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Monday, September 11, 2006

Hadd ho gaee!

The Hudood Ordinance is merely a political stick for both sides in our parliament to beat each other with. Neither side, it is clear, has the slightest interest in the plight of women who are incarcerated under it (almost always wrongly), its validity or otherwise under the Qur'an, it's misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Islamic injunctions, or the fact that it was imposed upon the nation by a tyrannical, megalomaniac military dictator through an ordinance ... and that it could just as easily have been removed through a similar instrument by the current one. To be fair, the press did report yesterday that President Musharraf had considered (and even ordered) a unilateral removal of this draconian and stupid set of laws, using the Power that his Uniform gives him over people's lives. But, lo and behold, we are told that the progressive PM, Shaukat Aziz (the same one whose excessively enthusiastic prayers for rain have inundated the streets of some of our major cities), swayed him away, asking for it to be done through a Bill in the assembly. If this path was chosen to prove to the world that things are done democratically in this country, the PM and the President are certainly naive. No one outside, or inside, Pakistan swallows that. Of course the MMA (the President's friendly enemies) will want to misuse this opportunity to rally support against the President and the Government. The latter, in turn, may have to 'negotiate' and 'water down' what once they considered 'right' (supported by studies released by various commissions and scholars) to what they will next begin considering 'right'. Things are even more awkward this time, with some members of the President and PM's Party also opposing the much needed reform. (Understandable. They have to lord it over their women! Obtain permissions to remarry and threaten any wife who refuses to grant such permission with these laws.) So, to keep their votes on the Governments side, more 'negotiations' will take place. At the end of it all, the women, the nation, the beliefs, the morality, the principles, and the legality will all be bartered away by both sides in exchange for licenses, positions, ministries, lands, withdrawn cases, and other political currency. These are scenes we have watched before, and, as the adage goes, if we do not learn from history, we shall be forced to repeat it. So be it. What bothers me, however, is something that is infinitely worse and has much farther-reaching consequences for the Ummah. "What", you ask, "could be worse than the misuse and misquotation of the Qur'an and Islam by Muslims who not only profess their faith loudly, at every opportunity, but among whom are many who lead the religious congregations from the pulpits of masjids and imambaa∂aas ?" To almost all Muslims, casting aspersions on the veracity of the Qur'an, I'd say, would fall into a worse category, wouldn't you agree? Surely, you say, that can't be something I could seriously accuse the Ulema or lawmakers of doing. Bear with me... The Offence of Zina Ordinance that forms a part of the Hudood Ordinance prescribes the punishment of Rajam (stoning to death) as the Hadd punishment for a married man and/or a married woman if found guilty of Zina. Those against the Hudood Ordinance argue that Rajam has not been mentioned in the Qur'an. The maximum (or Hadd) punishment for Zina is 100 lashes (provided all the requirements for Hadd punishment are met). This, in itself, is a very severe punishment and the Qur'an states that solid proof, beyond any doubt, is required before convicting the accused. Do note that the punishment is not 'lashing to death'! The punishment by Rajam ends with killing for a crime for which death is not the prescribed punishment in the Qur'an and is, threfore, not Islamic. (It is a punishment that the Jews, in the early days of Islam, carried out under Mosaic Law). Therefore, opponents of this law demand, this punishment be stricken off the law books. A reasonable demand, I'd say, if based on verifiable evidence - and that is not something that would take long to find out by going through a copy of the Qur'an. The proponents, who include some Ulema, argue that Rajam was introduced - and actually awarded - as a punishment for Zina during the time of the Holy Prophet and of the Rightfully Guided Caliphs (Khulafaaé Rashideen). And, since the Qur'an commands Muslims to follow and obey the Holy Prophet, any act sanctioned or introducd by him is an intrinsic part of Islam. Once again, to those who subscribe to this view - and an overwhelming majority would obviously agree - Rajam is unquestionably Islamic. Adding to the weight of this approach is the fact that it is practiced in Saudi Arabia. But wait... We are also informed, in defence of Rajam, that some[?] also believe there was (WAS?) a verse in the Qur'an, regarding Rajam. WAS??? It was written on a leaf. At the time of the Holy Prophet’s death, the leaf was 'misplaced'. It was later discovered that it 'may' have been eaten by a goat and 'a reference' to it was later added in several collections of Ahaadees. Excuse me?!?!? Quite apart from the fact that the various 'leaf & goat' stories (and there are some that are even more astounding; so astounding in fact that they are rejected out of hand as being ludicrous by the 'majority') would not hold well under scrutiny, are the Muslims now being told that a verse from The Book - whose Divine Author has 'guaranteed' that He will protect it for all times - has a leaf missing? I am stumped! As, I am sure, are you. Does this not open up a Pandora's Box, leading to questions of how many other leaves were lost? Does this not cast aspersions on The Book and all that it stands for? Does it not wreck the case for its having remained unchanged from its original form and content? And may we know how this ayat was eventually re-discovered? And authenticated? When and by whom? And, under what authority was a 'lost-and-found' verse of the Qur'an, if ever there was such a thing - 'downgraded' (if you'll pardon the expression) to a level of a mere 'reference' in the Ahaadees - a status that even the staunchest of Hadees supporters would not equate with Islam's most sacred text? For casting doubts on the Qur'an, can those Mullaas who expound such ideas be tried under their own favourite weapon, the Blasphemy Laws, which are themselves very debatable in the way they are interpreted and used. To those of you who think I have made all this up: C'mon, guys. Do I seem the suicidal type? If you wish to know more about the Bill that is being debated (more likely prostituted) today - and I think EVERYONE needs to get off their apathetic asses and understand both sides if they are desirous of a better future, please skip across to GEO's brilliant site, Zara Sochieye. [For those who can still read the National Language, there is an Urdu section, too!] Those who just wish to verify the leaf tale, the section called Both Sides of the Story offers a confirmation of my report and highlights other controversies.

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10 Comments:

Blogger the olive ream said...

Oh! My! God! Thank you for this ZAK, I had no idea that this issue was being debated at this level. I am totally horrified. So it has come down to this, has it? No need for use of common sense, logic, rational thought or human decency to judge the illegality of the Hudood Ordinance. we are suppose to rely on the judgement of a few who judge piety and intellect based on the thickness of one's beard.

Seriously, WTF?!

11 September, 2006 23:16

 
Blogger sam said...

Very illuminating. You know by now that I'm not very well informed as well as very apathetic towards religion but this is just ridiculous. What i'm interested in is who exactly first brought up the lost verse reference? Handed down or our esteemed maulanas?

I was very excited when the Hadood ordinance was tabled but now it has just become sickening now. I suppose it was ineveitable that the issue would be used as a political ploy but I expected more to happen.

12 September, 2006 11:13

 
Blogger Zakintosh said...

Here's this morning's expected news (from DAWN):

Govt yields to MMA on Hudood laws.
ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: The government on Monday succumbed to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s pressure for renegotiating the controversial Women’s Rights bill apparently because of the alliance’s threat to quit assemblies and provincial governments if the bill was passed without its consent.

12 September, 2006 12:02

 
Anonymous ayesha said...

Whoa @ the leaf story! I had entirely missed that when I was following Zara Sochiye!

Sadly enough the government has caved in. again. Maybe it was a little too optimistic to expect otherwise. What is worse we are back to square one with the amendment's stand on rape. So much for women enpowerment in Pakistan. Dawn notes the ammendments proposed and accepted:

One of the three amendments proposed in the agreement said that the crime of zina-bil-jabr (rape), which the bill had taken out of the 1979 ordinance and incorporated in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), be made subject to the Islamic Hadd punishment for Zina (adultery) — stoning to death — if it fulfilled the requirements of such a Hadd.

It also proposed insertion of a new section in the PPC — in place of “zina liable to ta’zir” in the old Hudood ordinance — with the text: “A man and a woman are said to commit lewdness if they wilfully have sexual intercourse with one another and shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.”


On a side note: It says a lot about the apathy of our civil society. We have made no real attempt to actively protest against the Hudoodd - by turning it into a nation-wide campaign. For how long can we afford this attitude?

12 September, 2006 18:09

 
Anonymous Ghazala said...

@ZAK as always, an erudite, incisive, passionate and brilliant post. Wish we could do - with the bearded as well as the non bearded variety of sickos gracing our houses of parliament, and those responsible for writing these draconian laws, what Kamal Ataturk did way back. Not that I'm a great admirer of the man.
As for the leaf story - you've really got me stumped there. If it wern't for this very ordinance or one very similar to it - i.e. the Blasphemy Law, I would have liked to offer an explanation for that one :-)

13 September, 2006 02:12

 
Blogger sabizak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13 September, 2006 22:57

 
Anonymous rayhan said...

No surprise here, He has had ample practice at sea, from what I hear, of laying things well.

23 September, 2006 11:06

 
Blogger Zakintosh said...

I'd suggest you believe your sources only if they have had direct experiences.

23 September, 2006 19:17

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can u take a little bit of truth ? keep living in your dreams

29 October, 2006 23:49

 
Blogger Zakintosh said...

and you in your anonymity ...

03 November, 2006 18:37

 

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