Islamic Law- Hudood

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Hudood derived from the word ‘Hadd’ is often used in Islamic literature for the bounds of acceptable behavior and the punishments for serious crimes. In Islamic law or Sharia, hudood usually refers to the class of punishments that are fixed for certain crimes that are considered to be "claims of God." They include theft, fornication, consumption of alcohol, and adultery. These offences are specifically mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. However shortly after coming into power in 1979, General Zia ul-Haq began to Islamize the Pakistan legal system. One measure used to convert Pakistan into an Islamic state was the introduction of hadd offences—those offences for which the Quran prescribed fixed punishments—into the criminal law.

In 1979, General Zia promulgated a series of ordinances which were to revolutionize the legal system of Pakistan. Zia had come to power in 1977 in a coup d’etat which had toppled the government of PM Zulfikar Bhutto. In 1984, Zia had himself confirmed as President of Pakistan by a referendum, which also gave him a mandate to Islamize the legal system of Pakistan. The ordinances introduced into the legal system of Pakistan were ostensibly Islamic criminal laws. As a result, theft, consumption of intoxicants including alcohol, extra-marital sex including rape, and making false allegations of adultery were all governed by Islamic criminal law. Until 1979 these offenses had been governed by the purely secular Pakistan Penal Code— legislation enacted in 1860 by the British colonial government and later adopted by Pakistan at the time of independence in 1947. Adultery and fornication had not been criminal offenses at all. Zia’s attempt to make the legal system of Pakistan more Islamic was based largely on political motives. Communal tensions and riots in the 1940s reached such threatening proportion that the colonial rulers eventually agreed to the demand of the Muslim League. On August 15, 1947, British India was divided into the dominions of India and Pakistan, the latter consisting of a western and an eastern part separated by more than a thousand miles.

It was Pakistan’s failure to turn itself into an Islamic state which provided. Zia with the justification for his coup d’etat. The first Constitution of Pakistan, adopted in 1956, made Pakistan an Islamic republic, but it did not change the essentially secular character of the legal system. The same applied to the Constitution of 1962. An uprising against West Pakistani rule led to the cessation of East Pakistan in 1972, which now called itself Bangladesh. Pakistan was now reduced to the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, the North Western Province, and Baluchistan. Pakistan’s population was now overwhelmingly Muslim. A provision in the 1973 Constitution provided that all laws should be in accordance with Islam, but crucially, this article could not be enforced in a court.

Zia’s campaign to turn Pakistan into an Islamic state consisted of two measures. The first one, consisted of the introduction of hadd offenses into the system of criminal laws. The hadd offenses are those offenses for which the Qur’an specifies fixed punishments as long as certain conditions, such as the rules of evidence governing a particular hadd offense, have been fulfilled. The second measure consisted of creating an entirely new court with exclusive jurisdiction to examine whether or not a law is in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. The Federal Shariat Court came into existence in 1983, and in addition to having the power to review laws on the basis of Islam, it also acted as a court of appeal for all cases involving the Hudood Ordinances.

The four ordinances promulgated in 1979 were:

1.Offences against property (enforcement of hudood) Ordinance – this dealt with theft 2.Offence of Qazl (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance – dealt with defamatory statements 3.Prohibition (enforcement Hadd) Order- dealt with alcohol

4.Offence of Zina(Enforcement of...
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