Malaysia’s Parliament Once Again Postpones Discussion on Critical Sharia Legislation
We asked you to pray on Oct. 24 for the upcoming meeting of Parliament in Malaysia as they were scheduled to discuss a bill to empower Shariah courts, a bill that had already been temporarily postponed. When it was brought up in parliament on Nov 24, the last day of the parliamentary session, discussions and voting were tabled once again until parliament reconvenes in March of next year.
The president of the Islamist party, PAS, has been gathering support for the proposal that is now before Parliament, which would amend Act 355 to remove the limitations placed on Shariah courts to mete out punishments. Act 355 currently places a limit of 3 years in jail, whipping of not more than 6 strokes, and fines of not more than RM5,000 ($1,192 USD). If this motion gains the needed majority of support in Parliament, the Federal government will then be tasked with crafting a bill to amend Act 355. The proposed bill was passed unanimously at the state level by the legislature of Kelantan state on March 19, 2015. If Act 355 is indeed amended, PAS, who formed the state government in Kelantan, will be able to enforce Hudud law, a set of laws and punishments specified by Allah in the Quran.
This bill is now also receiving the support of the UMNO-led government. The UMNO (United Malays National Organization) is the largest political party in Malaysia. In supporting the bill, however, they have insisted it be amended to imposing limits instead of giving unlimited powers to Shariah courts. As a result, the enforcement of some of the extreme punishments within Hudud, including the Islamic corporal penalties such as stoning and the amputation of limbs, would be in question. Therefore, we seek your prayers that this amended bill will not allow for the sought authority to enforce Hudud.
Pray for all Muslim MPs to make good and wise judgments when they vote on the bill in March. Pray for the government that, as they determine what to do about the bill and propose amendments, it will not, as a non-Muslim MP stated, “create separate legal systems that will cause confusion and an open-ended environment for opportunists to tear the country apart. However, we also seek for God’s will to be done. If He allows this to push through, pray for wisdom for Christians for how to respond biblically. Christians have been assured that non-Muslims will not be affected, yet, the church must not live for itself but also for those who have yet to know Christ. Pray for the Malay Muslims that this will drive them to seek the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Father, we pray today that Your hand of protection will rest upon the Christians and other minorities in Malaysia as this legislation comes before Parliament next year. We pray that in the months until then, the MPs, both Muslim and non-Muslim, will be moved to make wise judgments. We pray that You, who have placed Your good and perfect law on our hearts, will bring about Your holy and righteous will and use it to the praise of Your glory. And we think of the many Malay Muslims who do not know You. Use these circumstances, Father, to draw them to seek You and rest their souls in the merciful grace of Christ. In the name of Jesus our Redeemer and Anchor of Hope, Amen.