KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 ― The prison sentence given to six Muslim men who missed compulsory Friday prayers was correct and a needed deterrent to combat the truancy, a PAS lawmaker claimed.
Kuala Terengganu MP Ahmad Amzam Mohamed @ Hashim asserted that more people were now skipping Friday Muslims prayers and urged the authorities to check this.
“This offence of not performing Friday prayers is becoming more widespread, especially in urban areas and would, without enforcement, become a normalisation process for Muslims in Malaysia.
“This matter can be seen when many eateries are open during Friday prayers where the workers and customers are men,” he purported in a statement published on the Harakah Daily website.
“This strict enforcement action also has to receive moral support from all Muslims in Malaysia so that those who wish to challenge the authority (wibawa) of Islamic laws would not dare to oppose openly,” he concluded.
Earlier in his statement, Ahmad Amzam lauded the Hulu Terengganu Shariah Subordinate Court for handing down fines and a one-month prison term to six men for deliberately missing Friday prayers on August 23.
The offence was violation of Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment that providing for a maximum two-year jail term or maximum RM3,000 fine upon conviction.
Section 16 penalises Muslim men who fail to perform Friday prayers in a mosque for three consecutive weeks without reasonable cause.
Describing this as the first such sentencing in Malaysia, the PAS MP said it would elevate the perception of Islamic law.
Ahmad Amzam went on to criticise rights group Lawyers for Liberty's (LFL) views that the criminal punishment of the personal matter of failure to attend Islamic prayers was excessive and disproportionate.
He claimed the Federal Constitution allowed for an Islamic criminal administration framework via Shariah courts.
“The offence of not performing Friday prayers should also not be disputed as morals and crime are closely related and cannot be separated to protect community life. Lowering the rate (kadar) of the sentence would only further affect the credibility of Shariah laws,” he said.