Kuala Lumpur: A narrow interpretation of the 'hudud law' could hurt Muslim majority Malaysia's minority communities, academics, lawyers and ruling party members have warned, after an opposition Islamist party hinted at introducing the controversial law in states ruled by it.

In Islamic law or 'Sharia', hudud literally means "limit", or "restriction". It is the word often used in Islamic literature for the bounds of acceptable behaviour and the punishments for serious crimes.

They include theft, fornication, consumption of alcohol, and apostasy.

International Movement for a Just World president Prof Dr Chandra Muzaffar said parties that subscribed to hudud should not be empowered, noting that most countries which adopted hudud law had failed to protect their people or their rights.

"What is the meaning of hudud if there is so much corruption at the top but there are strict rules at the bottom?" he was quoted as saying, adding that some had a very narrow interpretation of hudud.

He noted that some countries which had adopted hudud law had a wide gap between the rich and the poor, an authoritarian system and poor treatment of minorities and women.

"Not a single hudud state can be an example to us," he said to cheers during a session at the forum.

Non-Muslims, Dr Chandra said, would suffer if hudud law is implemented.

Kelanta'state's chief minister Nik Aziz was recently quoted by an online news portal that he prayed for "divine intervention for a two-thirds majority in Parliament so that the hudud law could be implemented.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) spiritual adviser said hudud was as necessary and compulsory as other important activities in Islam like praying, fasting or performing the Hajj.

(Agencies)