No. 4 Lorong 11/8E, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.​

An immediate threat to citizens’ right to privacy

An immediate threat to citizens’ right to privacy

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is alarmed at the July 27 raid by Jais on a private residence.

News reports quoted the occupant Razman (no second name given) as saying that a group of 10 officers appeared at his home 2.30am and broke down the front-door grille with a hammer.

Such was the level of aggression that Razman initially thought he was about to be attacked by intruders.

Jais’ overzealousness is distressing to say the least – one can only imagine Razman’s fear in the dark of that early morning, while he was taking his first meal (sahur) before beginning the day’s fast.

It is a grave situation in itself – but there is a large, imminent, more sinister threat to society.

The officers were there to investigate “kegiatan maksiat” or – translated literally – “vice activity”.

This brings up the disturbing question of moral policing. The reality is that it is religious officers who decide when and where sin is occurring and what action to take – all with no transparent or consistent protocol.

Over the years, SIS has stated  / highlighted? how this might lead to the violation of personal dignity and privacy that is forbidden in the Qur’an and hadith.

In this recent case, officers smashed their way onto the premises without a warrant.

A statement from SIS in early 2010 says:

“Respect for the personal privacy of individuals and the immunity of private dwellings against intrusion of any kinds is clearly provided for in the Qur’an.

“Surah an-Nur 24: 27 & 28 states that: O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked for permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may take heed. If you find no one in the house, enter not until permission is given you: if you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves: and God knows well all that you do.

“Permission to enter a private house is to be solicited three times; if it is not granted, then the caller must leave (hadith reported in Mukhtasar Sahih Muslim, hadith 1421).”

The officers who raided Razman’s home acted upon suspicion not evidence when the text of the Qur’an clearly forbids indulgence in suspicions that are degrading and offensive to the personal dignity of others.

Surah al-Hujarat 49:12 states that:

“O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin; and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs ¦ But fear God, for God is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.”

Also from SIS’ 2010 statement:
“The Qur’anic prohibition on spying occurs in absolutely general and unqualified terms, and is thus addressed to everyone, including government agencies and law enforcement officers.”

Law enforcement officers must only act on the basis of what is known through direct observation, which was evidently not the case in this recent raid.

Razman also said that he was threatened with rough treatment (“kekasaran akan dilakukan”). Does the rakyat now have to live in the stranglehold of fear?

The officers were apparently mistaken about the immoral behaviour they thought was taking place in Razman’s home. It is entirely possible also for investigators to mistakenly enter non-Muslim homes – human error is natural.

With no check-and-balance mechanism, Malaysian Syariah law enforcers can seemingly conduct random raids as often as they like, and now, behave in a menacing manner.

The Qur’an is very clear on the matter and SIS strongly urges authorities to immediately impose transparent limits and protocols for raids by religious departments.

Without this, privacy will evaporate and we tread on a treacherous path from which it will be almost impossible to return.

Sisters in Islam
Petaling Jaya