Hudud and the medical profession — G25

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APRIL 7 — Much has been said and debated since the Kelantan State Government’s tabling of the Syariah Criminal Code 11 1993 (Amendment 2015) or the Hudud Bill on 19th of March 2015. Two prime arguments against this bill as proposed by PAS and why it cannot be implemented include the concerns that the preconditions for the implementation of Hudud laws in this country including the establishment of a pious and just society where there is no inequality or poverty have yet to be met. Secondly the Hudud bill as proposed, contravenes our Constitution which since Independence has guided us as a multi –racial and multi religious nation living in harmony.

Putting these two major objections aside, the medical practicality of implementing these corporal punishments (caning, amputation, stoning) and the death penalty has yet to be defined by PAS and the Kelantan State Government. It has recently been reported that a member of the Kelantan’s hudud implementation committee has claimed that a group of Muslim medical experts had offered their services in order to ensure that punishment will be administered professionally by resigning from being a medical doctor temporarily. We members of G25 therefore laud the decisive reminder by the Director General of Health on every doctor’s duty to “first do no harm” and the Minister of Health’s directive that doctors from the Ministry of Health will not be allowed to perform amputation on criminals.

The ethical principles that guide every doctor’s practice are not only enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath but also in the four common basic moral commitments — respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. In health care, respecting people's autonomy has many implications. It requires medical practitioners to consult their patients and obtain their agreement before things are done unto them, a process that is unlikely to occur in hudud. The term beneficence connotes acts of mercy, kindness, and charity. Broadly it includes all forms of action intended to benefit or promote the good of other persons. It is a doctor’s moral obligation to act for the others' benefit, helping them to further their important and legitimate interests, often by preventing or removing possible harm. This principle goes hand in hand with non-maleficence which is derived from the maxim Primum non nocere a Latin phrase that means "first, do no harm" , one of the fundamental principles of medical ethics throughout the world. As stated plainly by the Director General, the oath that doctors take is to heal and not to do otherwise. Finally the fourth moral and ethical principle in medicine is justice. At the heart of the current debate around the hudud bill is also justice, in itself a fundamental principle of the Shariah legal system. Where is the equality and justice when the Hudud laws as currently proposed do not provide adequate protection for the poor and women?

As can be seen by these arguments, the ethical principles that guide every doctor’s action are in tandem with the very same principles upheld by Islam. It should therefore leave no doubt for Muslim doctors that partaking in amputation, stoning and the death penalty not only contravene their professional ethical principles but also that of Islam.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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