This is a point of contention every time the question of hudud pops up. Those all for hudud say, “Malaysia is an Islamic country, therefore we should have Islamic laws” while those against hudud say “Malaysia is a secular country and Islamic law has no place in it”
In actual fact, I think Malaysia is neither an Islamic country nor a secular one. We are an extremely unique country in the sense that we are UNDEFINED
“An Islamic state ( Arabic: ﺍﻟﺪﻭﻟﺔ ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻣﻴﺔ al-dawlah al-islamīyah ) is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law” as per Wikipedia. In Malaysia, our Federal Consitution is the basis for government, hence we do not fulfill the primary requirement of being an Islamic state
At this point, all the pro-secular country advocates are rejoicing. However, as per Wikipedia, “secular states do not have a state religion (established religion) or equivalent.” As we all know (or should know), Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the Federation. So Malaysia cant be a secular state by virtue of having an established religion
In Che Omar bin Che Soh v Public Prosector, Tun Haji Muhammad Salleh bin Abbas (former Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia) said that the laws of Malaysia are secular. Many have misconstrued his statement to mean that Malaysia is a secular country. After all, it is logical that a secular country would be governed by secular laws. However, as I rightly pointed out, we are not a secular state as we do not fulfill the requirements to be one
Tunku Abdul Rahman once said that “The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion”. Tun Hussien Onn reaffirmed it when he said, “The nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion.” In 2001, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly declared that Malaysia is an Islamic country. Despite being the PM then, it was not in their power to declare Malaysia as a secular state/an Islamic state as even they (the PMs then) are subjected to the purview of the Federal Constitution.
No matter what individuals may say, Malaysia remains an ambiguous state until the glorious day when the Constitution is amended to expressly state whether Malaysia is an Islamic state or a secular state. In conclusion, Malaysia is NOT an Islamic state but neither is it a Secular state
* Read it also at The Malaysian Insider