Battle violent crime, not moral transgressions


  • Opinion
  • Monday, 17 Feb 2014

We must learn the messages of compassion and mercy rather than being harsh and judgmental towards those who transgress.

I STUMBLED upon a video on Facebook a few weeks ago, depicting a vigilante group chasing dozens of scantily-clad women in a nightclub in some foreign country.

They were whipping and shoving them, in what appeared to be an anti-prostitution raid before arresting them.

Some of the women were seen crying and covering their faces as the light of the video camera was directed at them, and running away from the authorities while begging helplessly for them to stop the beating.

“How I wish this to happen in Malaysia,” said one commentator on the video post, suggesting that the local religious authorities are not doing enough to combat vice.

Others echoed the sentiment. I, on the other hand, was speechless.

In Malaysia, it is already public knowledge that the state Islamic department officials, have been raiding hotels, nightclubs and sometimes even private homes to catch Muslims committing vice, in particular for khalwat or adultery.

This is often done in the presence of the media, snapping photos and recording the raid as perpetrators are caught with their pants down.

I once read a case about a newly-wed couple whose hotel room was raided during the night of their honeymoon.

As their kad nikah was still being processed by the state religious department, they had to show their wedding photos stored in their mobile phones just to prove that they were legally married.

Unfortunately, such news about these type of religious raids have become a norm in our society.

It is so normal in our society that even the ordinary citizens are starting to emulate the authorities snooping and spying on couples, while recording the whole process, interrogating them and spewing insults at them.

The videos are then uploaded on social networking sites, inviting more criticism and insults from the public in the boundless virtual world.

I am not encouraging khalwat or anything that it is forbidden but I believe public shaming done in the name of Islam is downright unacceptable and wrong.

According to former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, in a report run by an online news portal, such acts run contrary to hadiths (prophetic traditions) which illustrate how Prophet Muhammad disapproved of his people informing him of the private transgressions of others.

He said the prophet preferred that society relied on one another to encourage good deeds and discourage wrongdoings, instead of depending on a state-appointed moral authority to prevent “evil” from taking place.

I couldn’t agree more with his views as this was also clearly stated in the Quran (49:12) that equates public shaming or exposing one’s personal wrongdoings to eating the flesh of their brothers:

“O you have believed, avoid (much) negative assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.

“And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it.

“And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”

We must not be a judgmental and negative society.

It is sad to see so many unwedded Muslim girls resorting to mercilessly abandoning or even killing their newborns rather than having to face possible discrimination and being shunned by the public.

I sincerely believe that fighting against vice goes beyond adultery or khalwat and it is only fair for us to ask why so many resources are spent on moral policing when there are much greater crimes going unpunished.

> Rahmah’s dream is to live in a world with less judgmental people in it. She welcomes feedback at rahmah@thestar.com.my.

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