Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sharia "still not well understood"

From The Jakarta Post via Muslim News:
Five years after sharia was first implemented in Aceh, many residents, especially villagers, still do not fully understand it, an Islamic group says.

Many residents are unsure about its implementation, while some groups have politicized it, resulting in a focus on punishments like public caning and the requirement for women to wear a headscarf.
Better not to focus on the public caning.
Gazali Mohammad Syam of the Aceh Ulema Conference Council said there was a need to further familiarize locals with sharia and its regulations, especially in villages.

"Some people might still take sharia's implementation lightly, maybe because they have no knowledge on the matter," Gazali said.

He was speaking at recent meeting on five years of sharia in Aceh, organized by Mitra Sejati Perempuan Indonesia in Berastagi, North Sumatra.

The one-day meeting involved 20 participants from various groups in Aceh, including the sharia office, as well as officials, the police, ulema, academics, activists, lawmakers, the Aceh and Nias Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency and several women's organizations.

Academic Arraniry Hamid Sarong said the poor understanding of sharia had become a serious problem and was beyond explanation given that sharia was introduced to Aceh in 2003.

Sharia was implemented in the province two years after the central government granted special autonomy to Aceh in order to curb the independence campaign conducted by the Free Aceh Movement.

"Back then, when sharia was about to officially introduced, everyone was in high spirits, so they forgot about hot to implement the law," said an expert from the State Institute of Islamic Studies.

He said public caning for men who do not perform prayers three times of Fridays was an example of sharia that had not been enforced correctly.

When the law first came in, people were in high spirits, he said, but when it came to implementing the law, everyone was confused.

"Everyone forgot how to find evidence that a man did not perform Friday prayers. It must involve the police, the prosecutor and the judge," Hamid said.
And then you can cane the guy?
Since sharia's implementation, several qanuns or local ordinances have been passed. They include bans on khamar (drinking), maisir (gambling) and khalwat (premarital sex).

Sharia also bans men and women from eating and selling food during the Ramadhan fasting month and forces Muslim women to wear the headscarf.

Since its introduction in 2005, the sharia court has dealt with 157 cases.

Hamid said the government and the community had a tendency to make things official but got caught up in jargons and symbols instead of getting to the core of the problem.
So much of life is like this.
"Now there is a need to make people understand sharia which has been made official," he said.

Apart from a lack of understanding and familiarity, critics have pointed the finger at officials, saying they have failed to be good role models.

Several officials and even a sharia police officer have been apprehended for premarital sex but escaped prosecution.

"It would be better if the sharia was implemented without making any exceptions," Gazali said.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad

Tags: Sharia, Aceh, Islam

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