G25, an independent group of Muslim professionals, have expressed their concern over recent developments pertaining to the administration of shariah laws in the country and the longstanding conflicts of jurisdiction between the civil and shariah courts.
Disputes involving Muslims and non-Muslims in the jurisdiction of the civil and shariah courts, such as in the conversion, child custody and body snatching cases, have brought to the fore executive exuberance on the part of the shariah authorities that have exceeded the limits permitted by the Constitution, thus undermining the federal-state division of powers.
Through state religious enactments and fatwas, more and more incursions are being made into the basic right of Muslims to privacy and human dignity, as the religious authorities impose moral policing and intrude into the private lives of citizens. This is done in violation of the fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Where the application of shariah laws encroaches into the rights of non-Muslims and affects them in adverse ways, it has created much fear and anxiety deepening interreligious and interethnic divides which threaten national unity, peace and stability.
These disputes and conflicts have led to much confusion and questioning on the legal jurisdiction and substantive limits of shariah laws and the powers of the religious authorities who administer them.
In accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land, all Acts, Enactments and subsidiary legislation including fatwas, are bound by constitutional limits and are open to judicial review. To ensure that the provisions of shariah law meet the highest standards of justice and their implementation by the religious authorities does not violate the fundamental liberties set out in the Constitution, there needs to be a channel for open, rational and informed dialogue and discussion.
In order to reaffirm the place of Islam within Malaysia’s constitutional democracy, the Prime Minister is urged to establish a consultative process which will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and constitutional law, to address the many areas of conflict and overlap in the country’s plural legal system.
To reflect these matters of concern, G25 have adopted the following Vision Statement:
To support an environment for the codification and application of shariah laws that:
> upholds the principles of justice, equality, compassion and mercy as enjoined in the Quran, and conforms with the Federal Constitution and its prescribed fundamental liberties
> ensures they are implemented with fairness and wisdom
> protects the individual’s right to privacy and human dignity
> promotes mutual respect for and understanding of Malaysia’s diverse cultural and religious traditions as enshrined in the Rukun Negara
> cultivates an open, rational and informed approach to conflict resolution in order to strengthen national
> unity towards achieving Malaysia’s socio-economic development targets