A SEMINAR in Seremban drew much interest among Muslims for its apolitical approach in discussing legal issues affecting the ummah.
While Berita Harian was the official media for the event, aimed at fine-tuning laws, the interpretation of information and procedures in syariah courts, Utusan Malaysia also gave adequate coverage for the two-day seminar, which started on Thursday.
Both papers focussed on a proposal by the Islamic Understanding Institute of Malaysia (Ikim) on the creation of a post to oversee all matters pertaining to Islamic laws and principles. The post, said Ikim president Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, should be at par with the position of the Attorney-General.
He said the functions of the appointed Syarie A-G is to advise federal and state governments on matters connected to the practices and implementation of Islamic laws.
Ahmad Sarji said the time has come for a restructure and review of certain areas, such as enforcement and expansion of the syariah judiciary and should lead to the setting up of a Syarie A-G's Chambers.
Besides reviewing existing laws, this office should also be empowered to decide on new laws with the view of co-ordinating and formulating uniform Islamic laws for the nation, without disrupting the framework of the Federal constitution.
Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, who opened the seminar, said it was necessary to have uniform laws in the wake of differences among the states on matters such as penalties, practices, judgments and court jurisdiction.
He said the approval given by the Conference of Rulers to five Bills was an important milestone in the country’s history. The five Bills concerned: Islamic administration, family laws, court discipline, syariah crimes and court interpretations.
These laws, he said, involved the states of Selangor, the Federal Territories, Perlis, Penang, Negri Sembilan and Malacca.
By 2005, they will be extended to Kedah, Perak, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.
Another major Islamic seminar was held in Ipoh, to mark the birthday celebrations of the Sultan of Perak.
Islamic scholars from all over the country gathered at the Muzakarah Ulama, where, among others, the dicey issue of human cloning, which the National Fatwa Council ruled last year to be haram (forbidden), was discussed.
A law lecturer of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, Majdah Zawai, said to come out with the edict alone was insufficient. The fatwa must encompass aspects of law that stipulate actions against those who breached the directive as well as determine the status of cloned-babies.
She said such laws would be timely. “In issuing an edict, it is hoped that it is not just a decision on what is haram or halal but also a means to come out with a legal mechanism to enforce laws and sentence offenders,” she said.
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