Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Raja Petra Kamarudin
If you talk to God that will be called ‘praying’ and you will be called ‘religious’. If God talks to you that will be called ‘crazy’ and you will be called ‘mad’. At least today.
The Jews believe that the last time God talked to humans was about 3,500 years ago. The Christians believe that the last time God talked to humans was about 2,000 years ago. The Muslims believe that the last time God talked to humans was about 1,400 years ago.
And thereafter the door to God’s discussion or conversation with humans was closed. Since then God does not want to talk to humans anymore, maybe because God realises that the more He talks to humans the more divided humans become and then they start forming new religions and start killing one another and will use His name to justify all these killings.

Today, if I were to say that God speaks to me I would never be able to form a new religion and my ‘holy book’ would not be accepted as the word of God. I would need to have been born 1,000 or so years ago before I can succeed in convincing humans that God spoke to me and that this is the message that God gave me and so on.
1,000 or 2,000 years ago humans were ignorant and superstitious. If you suffered a headache, that was because the devil had entered your head. If your chickens died, that was because someone had used black magic and had put a spell on them.
They would believe anything you told them if you looked like a prophet and sounded like a prophet. And how do they know you look like a prophet? Well, prophets have long hair, beards, and wear long white robes with sandals on their feet. They speak in riddles that no one can quite understand but certainly sounds most impressive indeed. In fact, the more people cannot understand what you say the more you sound impressive and the more they would believe in you.
From the time of Jesus all the way down to Muhammad, and even after Muhammad’s death, many people came along who all claimed to be prophets. Jesus was not the only miracle worker of his time. There were many miracle workers before and after Jesus as well as during the time of Jesus who travelled all over the region to preach the ‘word of God’ and performed miracles.
You see, in those days, miracles were evidence that you are special and have been chosen by God. Hence to convince people you must be able to perform miracles. And that was why Jesus had to perform miracles or else no one would believe him. Miracles were mandatory to be accepted as a prophet of God in those days.
In Arabia, during the time of Muhammad, poetry was revered and those who could recite wonderful verses were placed very highly in society. Men admired them and women swooned and fell in love with them. And that was why the early Qur’anic verses were very poetic and wonderful to hear when properly recited in a very melodious manner.
It is actually like the entertainers of today, those singers, actors, actresses, and so on. If you are a good singer or actor/actress, people would idolise you and you became their idol and you will have many followers and make plenty of money and can live in a US$25 million home and drive RM5 million cars.
So, prophets also needed to ‘sing the right note’ and ‘act in an entertaining way’ to be able to win over the crowd. A boring prophet would not attract any followers. You must know what the market demands and satisfy the market’s needs. In the end it all boils down to good marketing and promotion, just like in any venture that you would like to see succeed.
In fact, it is reported that Moses realised this and when God asked him to go meet the Pharaoh he hesitated. He knew he stammered and was not a good talker. So he asked God’s permission to bring his brother along so that his brother could speak on his behalf. Moses realised you need to be able to outtalk the other person and debate impressively if you want to sway the people.
It is sort of like politics. If you are a good talker and can convince people you will do this, that or the other, even if you do not mean what you say, people will vote for you. They do not really care that you have a very poor track record and, in fact, you used to do the opposite of everything you say you will do if people vote for you.
Take Paul, for example, who had a poor track record. But then he was a good politician and was a fantastic talker who was able to write impressive letters. So he managed to convince the people to follow him.
Muawiyah was exactly like Paul and also had a very poor track record. But then he was also a good politician, like Paul, and managed to come out with all those wonderful hadith, just like Paul with his letters, and managed to reinterpret the teachings of Muhammad, just like what Paul did with the teachings of Jesus.
Anyway, that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about today is very short so to make this short article long I thought I would start with that introduction. So you can ignore all those paragraphs above because it has no relevance to what I wish to talk about, which is Hudud.
Hudud is now a four-letter word. Well, actually it’s a five-letter word but you know what I mean.
The word ‘Hudud’ is now a dirty word. It is associated with the law that allows women to be raped and who will be sentenced for illicit sex if she cannot come forward with four ‘holy’ witnesses who can testify that it was rape and not consensual sex. Hudud is also associated with amputation for thieves.
Those who are opposed to Hudud ask some very sensible questions. How can a woman who was raped deliver four holy witnesses to prove that it was rape and not consensual sex? In the first place, if those four witnesses are really so holy what were they doing there? And if they are really holy and they happened to be there is it not their duty to stop the rape? And if they just stood there or sat there to watch and did not try to stop the rape they cannot really be so holy then, can they?
But hold on, is PAS really including four witnesses for rape in their proposal for Hudud when there does not appear to be any reference to rape in that chapter of the Qur’an that says four witnesses are required to prove adultery? The word ‘adultery’ is there but not the word ‘rape’.
Anyway, I will let PAS reply to that question.
The other issue is regarding amputation. If later it is proven that the alleged thief is innocent how do we sew back his or her hand?
Good question. In fact, this also applies to jail sentences and death sentences. What happens after a person has spent 30 years in jail and later it is found that he or she is innocent? How do we compensate for those ‘lost’ 30 years? Can we turn the clock back and make this person 30 years younger? Or can we extend this person’s life by another 30 years to make up for the ‘lost’ 30 years this person spent behind bars?
And what about if the death sentence is passed and this person were put to death and later it is discovered that this person was actually innocent after all? How do we bring this person back to life?
I agree that amputation is cruel. Who would like to spend the rest of his or her life with just one hand? But is not the death sentence even worse? You may still have both hands but you have no life.
And do you know what is worse? Those who spend years on death row waiting to be executed have to suffer mental agony that is worse than even the execution itself. In fact, once they know they are going to be executed the following day, a certain peace comes over them. They are actually relieved to know that finally the end has come.
I spoke to a friend of mine who spent a long time on death row and what he told me about his experience and the experience of all his other ‘comrades’ on death row was very moving. It is not the death sentence that is what is agonising. It is the waiting and not knowing when they are going to be executed that is.
If given a choice they would rather be executed immediately than having to wait years before finally meeting their maker. They would give both hands just to end the agony. What is amputation to those on death row? Even immediate execution is a better choice. But to make them wait so long and then drag them out to be hanged is terrible as far as they are concerned.
And you do not die straight away when they hang you. Actually you die slowly by choking. Your tongue shoots out like that of a lizard and your eyes pop wide open. You piss and shit in your pants. You struggle and kick. And then you choke to death.
And then later they find they made a mistake and you were not really guilty after all and just like they cannot sew back your hand they also cannot bring you back to life.
Anyway, as I said, Hudud is now somehow a four-letter word. So PAS may want to consider how to reinvent Hudud and make it more marketable. In its present form, and with the negative image Hudud has suffered, it is no longer marketable. PAS will need to withdraw and come out with a new marketing plan if they want Malaysians to accept this law.
Of course, PAS can always do what the Christians and Muslims used to do in the early days. They can insist that this is God’s decree and that anyone who opposes God’s decrees are enemies of God and must be put to death. It worked in the past and this is why Christianity and Islam are so widespread. And if it worked once I am sure it can work again.