Malaysia forward: Government appoints women as judges in Shariah High Court

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Having launched Islamic program in all walks of life in order to activate Islamic faith level in the society, Malaysia has achieved another milestone in judiciary as two women have been appointed as judges of Malaysia’s Islamic Shariah High Court for the first time in the history of the judiciary of the Muslim-majority country.

And they received their official letters of appointment from Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah during a ceremony at the Istana Bukit Kayangan. Roslan and Shamsuddin said it was a positive development for the judiciary.

Shamsuddin said Malaysia had ratified the UN’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the appointments were in line with empowering women. “I believe more women will be appointed to take charge of important responsibilities in the future,” she said.

Shariah High Court, also known as Syriah High Court, refers to Sharia law in Islamic religious law and deals with exclusively Islamic laws, having jurisdiction upon every Muslim in Malaysia.

Both women graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies and later studied Psychology (Counseling) and International and Comparative Legal Studies respectively.

Shuhaidah was a senior Shariah officer at the Attorney-General’s Chambers while Huda was a chief Registrar at the Selangor Shariah Judiciary Department.

Malaysian government also plans a series of reform in judiciary and other domains of the state. One action in this regard is it decision on 28.06.2016 to allow only Female Doctors to Assist in Childbirth at public hospitals, Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya said.

Soon the government action would include all private hospitals too. However, the plan is on hold because there are not enough female doctors in the obstetrics and gynecology line, Hilmi told reporters in Balik Pulau. “There are more female doctors than male doctors in public service but not many female doctors are interested in obstetrics and gynecology.”So we have to wait until there are more trained female doctors in this line,” Bernama reported Hilmi as saying, after distributing Hari Raya hampers and contributions to 50 patients at Hospital Balik Pulau.

In 2013, the Health Ministry received a petition to only allow female doctors and nurses to work in the labor room and maternity ward, in the interest of the aurat (modesty) of Muslim patients.

The petition, signed by 6880 people, urged the ministry to incentivize women to take up obstetrics and gynecology, and raise awareness among medical professionals of the aurat requirements during childbirth.

It is generally accepted that a Muslim woman can show only her face and hands to members of the opposite gender that she is not related to.

Some Muslim women have also opted to wear “birthing pants”, which cover the mother’s thighs, ankles and knees during childbirth to fulfill this obligation.

Of course, the anti-Islamic elements in Malaysia – they indeed are huge groomed by government after government to showcase its secular credentials essentially to the  USA and Europe – would object to such reforms saying that such changes by the  governemnt are violations of their human rights.

True, such small steps would contribute to the onset of true and genuine Islamic life in all domains, in thinking inclusive and Muslims would gradually overwhelm all inadequacies and weaknesses that betray Islamic faith in true sense.

Malaysian effort to protect the interest s of Muslim women through law enforcement is indeed worth emulating in entire Islamic world.

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Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is an independent analyst; columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics; expert on Mideast affairs, chronicler of foreign occupations & freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.); Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); commentator on world affairs & sport fixings, former university teacher and author of eBooks/books

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