( This moving true story of one man’s lonely fight against injustice that touched the hearts of many was told by Haris Ibrahim in his blog, The People’s Parliament. )
A young lady e-mailed Haris about two weeks ago and asked, amongst other things :
‘How did you come to this point of your life? Doing what you’re doing, writing what you’re writing?’
Here is Haris’s answer to her question.
” On 5/11/2000, 4 individuals who were being tried in the Kota Bharu Syariah High Court threw proceedings into complete disarray when they produced statutory declarations signed by all 4 in August 1998 to the effect that they had all renounced Islam.
At the request of the prosecutor, the 4 were ordered to be remanded for a week to facilitate investigations. The lawyer appearing for them immediately asked and was allowed to be discharged from continuing to act for them.
This is the case of the 4 apostates, Kamariah Ali and her late husband Mohamad bin Ya, Daud Mamat and Mad Yaacob bin Ismail, that finally went all the way up to the Federal Court, where they all lost.
I picked up news of their case from the papers and followed it closely.
On 12/11/2000, they were produced again before the Syariah Court and were ordered to be remanded again and to be produced before the court on 19/11/2000.
This, too, I picked up from the newspapers.
What I picked up from the non-media sources was that attempts to get a new lawyer to represent them was proving to be impossible.
Nobody wanted to handle a hot, controversial potato.
On 19/11/2000, 2 friends and I drove up to Kota Bharu to attend the Syariah Court proceedings and to see if we could offer any help.
We would, however, be useless in the Syariah Court as none of us were Syariah lawyers.
What I witnessed first hand brought home to me a stark truth.
Justice, love, kindness and compassion that is enjoined by all faiths never sees the light of day when men arrogate to themselves the role of sanitizers of those perceived as ‘believers’ having fallen by the wayside.
These are the ‘do as I say, say as I say’ that you find amongst practitioners in every faith, without exception.
Without any legal representation, and before a court which, ostensibly, had no jurisdiction over them, the 4 having produced evidence that they no longer pofessed Islam, Kamariah, Daud, Mohamad Ya and Mad Yaacob were sentenced to 3 years jail each and were slapped with new charges of attempting to leave Islam.
As the 4 were led away to prison, I watched them bid their goodbyes to their relatives and fellow-villagers.
I will shamelessly tell you that I cried.
I then approached those relatives and fellow-villagers, introduced myself and offered to help.
I saw distrust in their eyes. ‘Who was this stranger? What does he want?’.
There was a flurry of phone calls, after which I was asked if I was prepared to go to their village to meet the headman. I later found out that this was Ayah Pin.
Enroute to the village, which subsquently came to be called the ‘Sky Kingdom’, one of the villagers who accompanied us in our car, a young man named Kamarul, asked a most pertinent question. Let me reproduce the conversation that ensued, as best as I can recall.
Kamarul : Tuan loyar sanggup datang daripada jauh nak tolong orang kampung, kenapa?
Me : Tuhan perintahkan saya.
Kamarul : Wah, bukan main. Tuhan kontek tuan loyar?
Me : Ya, melalui Qur’an.
Kamarul : Ya, ke? Ayat mana? ( Please try to imagine the most cynical ‘ya,ke’ possible. That was how it was )
Me : Surah An’ Nisa Ayat 75.
Kamarul : Mmm, ya lah ( just as cynically as the ‘ya,ke’ ).
I met Ayah Pin that morning for the first time.
I could not understand his dialect.
Through an interpreter, I offered to take the case of the 4 to the civil courts. I said I could not guarantee any success but I would dare to promise that the lawyers involved would do their best.
Ayah Pin asked about legal fees.
I told him that as I was there by the Command of God, my fees would be paid by God.
He conferred with some of the other villagers, then turned to me and said (as interpreted) that as they could not get anyone else and I had offered to help, they would accept the offer.
I want to pause here and observe that my first appointment to represent the 4 was borne out of a sense of hopelessness on the part of those who were appointing me, and not hope. An appointment not built on trust, but desperation.
No-one else would act for them, so they had to take whatever there was.
For the 4 apostates, the team of lawyers took out proceedings and lost in the Kota Bharu civil High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
Mohd Ya has since passed on.
Kamariah and Daud have been charged again in the Syariah High Court in Kuala Terengganu. Proceedings have been commenced on their behalf again in the KL High Court. We lost and have appealed to the Court of Appeal.
On behalf of Ayah Pin’s wife, proceedings in the Kuala Terengganu High Court were commenced in 2001 to challenge a land office move to demolish buildings on the land. This is the only court proceeding that was won.
In 2005, a second move to demolish was started by the land office. Challenges were again filed in the Kuala Terengganu High Court. A stay order was obtained. The land office nonetheless moved to and did demolish on 31/7/2005. Contempt proceedings were commenced and dismissed in the High Court. An appeal is pending in the Court of Appeal.
6 1/2 years through the courts and just one lousy victory! It would seem that their sense of hopelessness with which I was first appointed was well justified.
But, hey, guess what? There no longer is distrust in their eyes when we meet and, yes, the fees that I have received from God for this work, no amount of money could ever buy.
I have received friendship and love from some of the gentlest people I have ever met.
I first took the case because I love God and felt that this is what He would have me do.
They, the villagers, accepted me into their lives out of desperation.
Today, notwithstanding the differences between these villagers and myself in our respective understanding of God and His great scheme, yet there is immense love, respect and tenderness that we give each other.
This love, respect and tenderness is God-Planted.
I have since then taken on many such cases where there has been no fees, out of love for God and a sense of duty owed to Him and in every such case, the same thing has happened.
God has Planted love, respect and tenderness.
To that young lady, this is my answer.
I do what I do because I am addicted to the love, respect and tenderness that God Plants in great abundance.
This is my hope of what may emerge from the impending Bangsa Malaysia Merdeka get-together.
That between those who come to partake, God will Plant love, respect and tenderness.”