Friday 20 June 2014

Execution for betrayal to religion

** This is a collection of comments that I made for the discussion at the following post

Thought of intervening into this interesting debate. I think the confusion is caused by the fact that you are trying to analyze a concept while standing within two different frames of reference. For an example Buddhism & law are separated from the beginning while Islam and law are integrated. This is where we get into domain incompatibility.

Neranjaka, if you read Buddhism, you will find that Lord Buddha has preached Dasa Raja Dhramaya for kings where he clearly stated that the law should be fair and equal to all. Other than that Buddhism does not define what punishment should be given to what crime. If you look at the Sri Lankan history you will understand that the punishment system and methods our kings practiced were extremely inhuman (check Dethis (32) wada bandhana) in the present day frame of reference (among these punishments cutting the throat with a blade may be the most human method of killing, compared to others).

Even for laughing at the wrong time in the presence of the king was a reason for getting the capital punishment (and the way of execution was beyond the present day imagination). I am sure that you know what Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe did to Ahalepola family. Those are not Sri Wikrama's laws or laws imported from elsewhere. They are the well accepted (and even documented) laws practiced for many dynasties in the country. Note that there was no Sanghayawahanse opposed or preached against these punishments. Simply because Buddhism does not facilitate such intervention into the legal system (unless the king goes beyond the law unfairly).

Now I come back to the issue that you were raising. "The execution of a Muslim for betraying Islam". OK, let me remind you again that Islam and Law are integrated. In the frame of reference of Islam the punishment for such betrayal is capital punishment. Within their frame of reference it is correct as it is their legal system. We think it is wrong ‘cause we think that we don't do that.

Now I come to the last point. Just two hundred years ago in Sri Lanka, a whole family was put into painful death just because the husband betrayed the king's rule (there may be many other cases unreported). And Buddhism didn't try to stop that. Do you know that according to the SL law, still the punishment for betrayal to the government is death sentence? Just a few years ago Gen. SF was put into jail for using few words that the legal system defined as betrayal to the country (some people shouted against the legal procedure followed but not the law itself).

Now think, what has changed Sri Lanka from brutally mascaraing the entire family (just 200 years ago) to few years of imprisonment at present (that is also only to the relevant person) for betrayal to the state. Was it Buddhism that made this change......? Not for sure. Two reasons. First is that Buddhism provide no provisions for changing the legal system. Other is that if Buddhism could do such why didn't it happen for 2000 years?..... What made this change is the change of the frame of reference of our thinking pattern induced by the 20th Century western world. .... May be some Islamic frames of reference (note the plural) will take little more time than some Buddhist frames of reference to be compatible with the modern western frame of reference....Anyway the things are changing for sure.... as you may see going from Saudi, via Pakistan to Malaysia....

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