A Harmonisation unit previously known as The Harmonisation of Shari’ah and Law unit was established in May 2002, as a subcommittee under the Kulliyyah Research Unit. It has been initiated in AIKOL to organize programmes on harmonisation of Shari’ah and law and Islamisation of laws. Since its inception, this unit has organized in the past several conferences and seminars which was one the objectives of the unit. Based on available records, the first seminar was held on 20-21 October, 2003, at the Regent Hotel Kuala Lumpur with the theme ‘Harmonisation of Syariah and Civil Law’ with an introduction on the concept of harmonisation. The details of the unit activities and the report regarding the conference were detailed out by Professor Hashim Kamali in Harmonisation of Syariah and Civil law: The Framework and Modus Operandi, IIUM Law Journal Vol.11, Number 2, 2002 This was followed by another conference jointly organised by AIKOL and JKSM on 30th June 2005 at Pan Pacific Hotel on the theme ‘Towards a Methodology of Harmonisation’. The 4th International Conference on Syariah Civil law was held in 2009, co organised with AGC.
Besides seminars and conferences, the Harmonisation unit focuses more on publication of research papers with selected agencies either by individual members of AIKOL or as a group project. For example in 2014, many AIKOL lecturers were involved in an extensive research project jointly conducted with IKIM in addressing larger areas of law that need to be harmonised. A report on ‘Kajian Pengharmonian Undang-undang Bertulis’ was published by IKIM in 2016. FAME, Aikol research cluster together with CFRU, jointly organinsed a seminar on Human Rights in Islam and published a book with IIUM Press entitled ‘ Issues on Harmonisation of Human Rights in Islam’ 2016. Universiti Islam Malaysia has published chapters in book on harmonisation of laws relating to the conflict of jurisdiction between Syariah and Civil courts on the title’ Article 121 Perlembagaan Persekutuan; Sejauhmanakah Artikel ini penyelesaikan konflik antara Mahkamah Syariah dan Mahkamah Civil’. Among articles contributed by authors are ‘Conflict of Jurisdiction between Civil And Syariah Courts; Dichotomy and Harmonisation’, ‘Artikel 121 (1A) Sejauh manakah ianya menyelesaikan konflik Bidangkuasa antara Mahkamah Syariah dan Mahkamah Sivil’ to mention a few. The book was published in 2017.
In late 2020, Harmonisation Unit, jointly organised a seminar with JKSM on a broader theme of Family law and Maqasid Syariah. Several books were published. In enhancing further the programme of the unit, more activities were planned focusing on harmonization of laws as the core business.
The objectives of the Unit adhere to the earlier objectives dated back to the day of its inception. The objectives are as follows;
- to oversee the programme of harmonisation of law and Syariah at AIKOL
- to organise related programmes
- to propose methodological guidelines for the Harmonisation of Shari’ah and law at AIKOL
- to propose and assist in the organisation of seminars and conferences relating to Harmonisation of law and Shari’ah in AIKOL.
The term harmonization in itself has invited legal scholars to debate on the appropriate methodology to be used. Some scholars agree that harmonization is referring to the process of bringing one thing into harmony or agreement with another and it must be of two things that are not identical such as harmonization between Shari’ah and man-made law and put them on equal ground. While others view that the process should only involve Islamic Fiqh rather than the word Shari’ah which includes the divine law. In another context, harmonisation has been viewed as to be extended beyond Islamisation or conflicts between civil and Shari’ah laws. The fact that the law becomes transnational, it requires a new paradigm shift, different legal framework and the need for the law to be taught in comparative manner. This view supports the current legal setting where many Muslim countries ratify international treaties and certain provisions are inconsistent with Shari’ah framework. Obvious example is the provision on religious freedom under article 18 of UDHR 1948 which includes the right to apostate which is an offence in countries that are regulated by religious law. Therefore, imposing reservation to certain provisions in the convention can be viewed as one of the mechanisms to manage variety and differences between the two legal systems.
The above discussion explains that there is a diversity of approaches in understanding the concept of harmonization as well as the methodology. The process of harmonization of laws in Malaysia generally put Islam as the determining factor. This is due to the historical setting that segregated Islamic law from the Malaysia legal framework, except on personal law matters which used to be the Malay-Muslim law. For example, extending the power of the courts to include Syariah courts orders in federal and state laws is an example of Islamisation. In some cases, Islamisation works well when all legal principles involved in the dispute are in harmony and for the betterment of their implementation. However, in other situations, such an approach could result in further differences especially when the subject matter involves highly sensitive issues such as family related disputes. Therefore, it has been highlighted that harmonization in such cases must take into account all factors including the culture and politics of pluralistic society.
In another context, adat or customary law has been harmonized with Islamic law in addressing the rights of women to matrimonial property. The Muslim women are entitled to gain either half or one third from the property after divorce or death depending on their contribution in marriage. This law has been equally applicable to all parties including non-Muslim.
PATRON : PROF. DR FARID SUFIAN SHUIB (DEAN OF AIKOL)
COORDINATOR : PROF. DR AZIZAH MOHD
MEMBERS (1st August 2021 until 31st July 2023)
Prof. Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod (Retired – November 2022)
Prof. Dr. Najibah Mohd Zin
Assoc. Prof. Dr Zulfakar Ramlee
Prof. Dr. Sharifah Zubaidah Syed Abdul Kadir
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nasimah Hussin
Assoc. Prof. Dr Badruddin Hj Ibrahim
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Duryana Mohamed
Asst. Prof. Dr. Norjihan Ab Aziz
Asst. Prof. Dr. Zati Ilham Abdul Manaf
Asst. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Amrullah Nasrul
Asst. Prof. Dr. Khadijah Mohd Najid