Syariah law critics do not understand Islam: Mufti

BRUNEI - The State Mufti has responded to online critics of Syariah Penal Code implementation in Brunei, saying their comments were made without proper understanding of the Islamic laws.

In a lecture to high-ranking officials and students in London, Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Hj Awg Abdul Aziz Juned said people commented on the Syariah law without knowledge or understanding.

"Not even a day after the law was announced, human rights groups on social media commented that the steps taken by the Brunei government to implement the law was a backward step, out of date and not modern," he said.

He cited the wearing of headscarves as an issue taken up by human rights groups.

The groups said the wearing of headscarves should be outlawed since it is against the rights of women.

However, if Muslims were to believe in those rights, they would stray from the teachings of Islam, the State Mufti said during the lecture at Brunei Hall last Monday.

"Al-Quran tells us to wear the headscarves and we should not listen to those who are against Al-Quran. We should not question the teachings of Al-Quran since it is haram (forbidden)."

In the one hour and 45-minute address, the State Mufti added that the ban on alcohol has brought "blessings" to the country.

Brunei had taken steps to curb the consumption of alcohol when it used to be sold in the country by raising import tax to deter people from buying it.

However, there was no effect on consumption after a year, instead more alcohol was imported, the State Mufti said.

He added that there were more meetings and discussions on the subject and the import tax on alcohol was further raised, but it had no effect on consumption.

Then His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced in a titah banning the sale and consumption of alcohol in public places, the State Mufti said.

"This is an example of berkat (blessings) in Brunei which we can't dispute, and I am in no doubt that the banning of alcohol has brought about major berkat (blessings) to Brunei."

However, Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Abd Aziz acknowledged that there were people who still brought in alcohol illegally, but noted they were arrested promptly.

Furthermore, His Majesty ordered the closure of business premises during Friday prayers, which is a "beautiful" step, reflecting a positive image of the country, he added.

The State Mufti said the Syariah Penal Code is an example for the rest of Southeast Asia.

Concluding his lecture, Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Abd Aziz reminded students not to forget their daily prayers and recite Al-Quran.

"Find some time everyday to read Al-Quran, if you don't know how to read it, find time to learn. Don't wait, learn it quickly since we don't know how long we live. It will be a great shame if we confront Allah (SWT) without knowledge of Al-Quran."

Present at the lecture were Brunei High Commissioner to UK Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Aziyan Abdullah; Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Wahab Juned; Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Roselan Hj Mohd Daud; government officers stationed in London and more than 200 students.

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