Tens of thousands of Malaysians rallied in the capital on Saturday to support the adoption of a strict Islamic penal code.

For decades, PAS has been pushing for Malaysia to adopt hudud in the northeastern state of Kelantan that is governed by the party, arguing that it is the responsibility of the country’s Malay-Muslim majority to support Islamic law.

The PAS presented the bill in parliament last year but later withdrew it in order to fine tune the legislation. It is now expected to be reintroduced in the next parliamentary session, in March.

Hudud (Arabic: حدود Ḥudūd, also transliterated hadud, hudood; singular hadd, حد, literal meaning “limit”, or “restriction”) is an Islamic concept: punishments which under Islamic law (Shariah) are mandated and fixed by God

The rallies reached a climax over the weekend. Here are some of our thoughts from a layman perspective:

While the Quran and Sunnah (tradition of the Holy Prophet) are divine, the interpretations are not.

Hudud (Islamic Penal Code) is mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, it is not spelt out in great detail with regards to the context and conditions. So it was left to scholars to deliberate on these.

Divine laws are changeless. And if Hudud is divine than it should be the same regardless of place and time. 

It is not.

For instance, why is the Hudud in Sudan practised differently from the Hudud in Malaysia and Iran?

Scholars do not always agree so they have different interpretations of things. So which interpretation should you favour?

Would a person who steals a car will get his hand amputated but a nobleman who steals millions will not get his hand amputated?

We cannot ignore the fact that Malaysian politicians have appropriated the word Hudud and Shariah from the Quran for possibly their own self-centered political pursuits. They twisted it further when they implied that whoever is against the Hudud law, is against Islam and undermining Islam.

These are not divine.

There is actually a major fallacy – Hudud law if divine should be applied and unmediated by human influence, but in Malaysia, hudud law have to be enacted by a secular institution (the state legislature) after deliberation by elected assembly persons, who vary in religion and ethnicity.

They are effectively re-naming laws passed by a secular legislature (which is created by a state law) as Shariah Law and reduced it as a tool for party branding.

There is nothing divine about this.

Malaysians, Malaysia and Islam deserve better.