Renunciation of Islam

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 5 — A woman who converted to Islam failed today in her appeal before the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s refusal to allow her application for a declaration that she had the right to renounce Islam and embrace Christianity.

Justice Datuk Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud in a 2-1 majority decision said the appeal brought by the 35-year-old woman was incompetent before the court as the person (appellant) named in the originating summons at the High Court stage no longer existed — she had changed her name to a Muslim one.

Full article on Malaysian Insider HERE.

The general story behind this incident is that this woman first converted to Islam because she wanted to marry a Muslim man. What her religion was before this has not been stated. They divorced in 1997. In 2003, she fully embraced Christianity, affirmed through a deed poll and an SD. She also reverted back to using her original name.

She states Article 11 of the Constitution as one of her bases:

(1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

(2) No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own.

(3) Every religious group has the right:

(a) to manage its own religious affairs;
(b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and
(c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.

(4) State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

(5) This Article does not authorise any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality.

That’s Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.

My personal take on the renunciating of Islam, or any other religion, is that it shouldn’t be done on your own whims and fancies. Religion is a serious thing, and renunciating a particular religion, any religion, should be done only after giving it serious thought, and having considered the consequences.

For me, this woman has went to court in the attempt to change her name back to her original name, her contention being that she never really practised, or embraced Islam, and only converted to be a Muslim because of her marriage to her ex-husband.

To go to court is a serious decision. This shows her determination in wanting to fully embrace Christianity.

I don’t know if there are any laws in Islam that forbid people like her to convert to another religion. And I will not pretend to know any.

But if it is in accordance to Article 11, I would say that she has a right to profess to Christianity as her religion, and her way of life. And if to practice Christianity, she has to renounce Islam, why stop her?

Why bound her into something that she doesn’t even follow? Her heart is not with Islam, her heart lies with Christianity. And the courts have decided not to allow her to ‘divorce’ herself from Islam. It is almost like being stuck in a marriage that has lost all its love and hope, while carrying on with an extra-marital relationship.

She just wants to live the rest of her life as a Christian.

This is not even about disrespect for Islam. It is out of respect for Islam as a religion that she has decided to go to court to officially say that she is now no longer a Muslim, and wishes that her documents will also state the same. it is out of respect for Islam as a religion that she wants to make things clear. Wouldn’t it be more disrespectful if a person stayed a Muslim in name, but Christian in faith?

There are people in Malaysia who secretly don’t practice Islam as their religion anymore. I don’t know any of them personally, but I’ve read of their existence. They have not went to court, or gone through the ordeal that this woman or Lina Joy went through, but can we blame them when we have precedences like this?

And perhaps there was one part of the above article that I found especially difficult to accept:

Selangor legal advisor Datin Paduka Zauyah Be Loth Khan, representing the state, submitted that the appeal was incompetent because the appellant in her SD had used her Muslim name but when she signed the SD, she used her Chinese name.

Zauyah said even if the appellant used her Muslim name in the appeal, the appeal was also incompetent because in her SD and deed poll, she stated that she was not going to use her Muslim name anymore.

She cannot use her Chinese name, because she used her Muslim name in the SD. But in the same SD, she said she wouldn’t be using her Muslim name anymore, so she also cannot use her Muslim name.

Then pray tell, what name can she use?

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22 Comments on “Renunciation of Islam”

  1. nursheikha says:

    Why did she become muslim in the first place? Love is not a good enough reason, especially when embracing Islam means you have to do so sincerely, wholeheartedly.

    If her husband is muslim and she originally wasn’t one particularly if she was a Christian, she didn’t really have to convert because muslim men can marry “People of the Book”.

    If the wife was muslim and her future hubby wasn’t -then they only way both could marry is he reverts, and thats if he really wants to, not just for the sake of married.

    Why didn’t anyone tell this to her before?!?
    ________
    You have given me new information. Prior to this, I was under the assumption that anyone who marries a Muslim has to convert.

  2. warrior2 says:

    “People of the Book” referred above, as I understand it, no longer exists. Thus, a Christian or a jewish person for example will have to convert before they can marry a moslem, man or woman!

    Now, my take is this. You cant change the rule mid way. You know what you are getting into, islam as I understood it forbids murtad (conversion out) and you better think hard.

    Dont be like, today, I sayang you and nak hidup semati dengan you, I akan follow you ke hujung dunia, and tomorrow, ohh I tak nak jadi muslim anymore!

    Pls dont give me that angle of “oh if people dont want to stay why force”!
    _________
    As I’ve said, I don’t know what the laws are like under Islam. I agree that religion is not something to be taken lightly. My contention was based solely on Article 11.

  3. Patricia says:

    No you do not need to convert. My friend is married to a muslim and has not converted: living proof.

    Having said that, it is not so easy to do. Pressure from the husband and in-law(s)-to-be, muslim friends, etc. would have made her feel that it was the only way. That is, IF she was even told that she had that option. I don’t know, so I can’t comment.

    As a former catholic, I know that the same is true when you marry a catholic. When I got married, in church, to a non-catholic, so many people both catholic and non-catholic alike, asked me how we did it! Like as if we had some ‘special dispensation’ from the pope or something!

    ‘Mixed marriage’ is provided for in catholic ‘laws’, as it is in Islam. But few know about it; it is not shared information, and it is not encouraged.

    ‘Converting’ for love. Wrong? Sigh, that’s hard for me to wrap my mind around. As a pagan-tree-worshipper myself, I wonder at all this venom and division brought about in the name of religion.

    Isn’t all religion about love and peace, and doing what is true and right? To me, they’re all different names for the same thing. But too many will disagree with me on this and crusify me for saying it.

    So like that lah, I stay in my corner by myself and watch the religious do each other in.
    ________
    It’s difficult when it’s as ambiguous as this. 3 different comments, 3 different takes on the issue.

  4. bisu says:

    In conversion cases, Article 11 does not stand alone. It must be read with Article 121 of the fed. Consti. whech reads as follows:

    “Article 121. Judicial power of the Federation.

    (1) There shall be two High Courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction and status, namely—

    (a) one in the States of Malaya, which shall be known as the High Court in Malaya and shall have its principal registry at such place in the States of Malaya as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine; and

    (b) one in the States of Sabah and Sarawak, which shall be known as the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak and shall have its principal registry at such place in the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine;

    (c) (Repealed).

    and such inferior courts as may be provided by federal law and the High Courts and inferior courts shall have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred by or under federal law.

    (1A) The courts referred to in Clause (1) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.”

    As matters on Islam is in the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court, the lady will just have to refer the matter to the Syariah Court. She could face a process of ‘rehabilitation’. But, if she has the conviction of her believe and not be persuaded to return to Islam, then the Syariah Court would affirm her renunciation of islam and she would be free to practice her choosen religion. (i stand corrected if this is shown to be incorrect)

    I think it’s this process of rehabilitation that most are afraid of. But like i said, if you have the conviction of your believe, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
    _________
    I agree. But this point also begs the question, where do we draw the line between Muslim and non-Muslim? I don’t have a real answer. Am waiting to learn.

  5. warrior2 says:

    Trust me, one has to convert.

    Ofcourse there are some of us like patricia`s friend who got married to a moslem but not a convert themselves but it is not sah.
    _______
    Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by “not sah”? As in, are they legally married or not?

  6. warrior2 says:

    It means the marriage is not valid in islam.

  7. Drafunt says:

    The issue of conversion is difficult. One should only convert because they truly believe not for love. Since love for another person may not last forever. In Indonesia, it is allowed for a man to marry a non muslim women but in Malaysia I dont think so.
    Personally I believe it is better to allow one to convert when they no longer (or never) believe rather then let it appear to be a muslim but still do things which are unallowed in Islam or does not do things which “wajib” in Islam. It gives a bad impression to the religion. There is nothing wrong with Islam, just with the people that claim to be muslims.

  8. Nanda says:

    On August 6, 2008 at 11:41 am nursheikha Said:
    Why did she become muslim in the first place? Love is not a good enough reason, especially when embracing Islam means you have to do so sincerely, wholeheartedly.

    If her husband is muslim and she originally wasn’t one particularly if she was a Christian, she didn’t really have to convert because muslim men can marry “People of the Book”.

    On August 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm Patricia Said:
    No you do not need to convert. My friend is married to a muslim and has not converted: living proof.

    Nanda says:
    Both comments are founded. Yet, to register your marriage legally in Malaysia, one has to convert.Refer to the links below

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_freedom_in_Malaysia#cite_note-0

    http://www.gov.my/MyGov/BI/Directory/Citizen/Family/Marriage/ProcedureMarriageMuslimandNonMuslim/

    http://ukinmalaysia.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-malaysia/marriage-in-malaysia

    Apart from that, as sanctioned in Quran, the first comment by nursheikha is valid.

    On August 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm warrior2 Said:
    “People of the Book” referred above, as I understand it, no longer exists. Thus, a Christian or a jewish person for example will have to convert before they can marry a moslem, man or woman!

    Nanda says:
    There’s no basis for this claim in Quran. There’s no time frame given when the People of the Book ceased to be People of the Book. The right to determine and judge remains God’s prerogative.

    On August 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm warrior2 Said:
    Trust me, one has to convert.

    Ofcourse there are some of us like patricia`s friend who got married to a moslem but not a convert themselves but it is not sah

    On August 6, 2008 at 8:34 pm warrior2 Said:
    It means the marriage is not valid in islam

    Nanda says:
    Whether it is sah or not sah in Islam, I don’t know because as I said, the right to judge is God’s prerogative. It’s not valid in accordance to Malaysian Law. This much I know is true.

  9. Nanda says:

    On the issue itself in regards with the judgment, I agree with Navel Gazer http://thegazerofnavels.blogspot.com/2008/08/skirting-issue-latest-court-of-appeal.html

  10. vishvenc says:

    Dear sir,

    Renunciation of a religion, any religion, should not necessarily be a ‘serious thing’. If religion is to be defined as a set of belief and practices, then it should it really be such a serious thing to want to change your belief and practices.

    Personally, I try to change my religion every week. Last week I was a pastafarian, this week I’m considering trying out scientology for a change.

    Sometimes I wonder if we seem to be taking things too seriously just for the sake of taking them too seriously.

    -Vish.

  11. shanu says:

    We have to realise that people who convert in order to marry a muslim do it for love and are to a certain degree, legally forced into that situation. There are many countries that allow muslim-non-muslim marriages without conversion. Singapore, India and Indonesia for instance.

    The issue here is whether the applicant should be allowed to revert to her former religion or embrance another religion.

    Isn’t faith a personal matter? How can anyone tell me what to believe in? When I was ten or thereabouts, I believed that Santa Claus really existed. I grew up. Now I believe otherwise. When I was in my late teens and early 20s I believed that everything in the world could be placed in 2 categories, good vs bad, white vs black. Now I am less judgemental and realise that a whole lot of things actually exist in a grey area. People are neither all good nor all bad. We all have good qualities and bad ones. We change, our thoughts change and so do sometimes, the things we believe in.

    Forcing people to believe in something that they really don’t is …………. (decide for yourself)

  12. rajraman 666 says:

    Love is blind – people will convert to the country law.
    Does the love means also love the religion – NO.

    Followers of HOLYBOOK – Who are they? – The TORAHQURAN – never end fighting each other.

    rajraman666.Please leave me alone because I am a DEVIL

  13. rajraman 666 says:

    The holybook – TORAH,BIBLE and QURAN.

    rajraman666.I am human not devil.

  14. Nanda says:

    On August 8, 2008 at 8:19 pm shanu Said:
    We have to realise that people who convert in order to marry a muslim do it for love and are to a certain degree, legally forced into that situation. There are many countries that allow muslim-non-muslim marriages without conversion. Singapore, India and Indonesia for instance.

    The issue here is whether the applicant should be allowed to revert to her former religion or embrance another religion.

    Nanda says:
    Spot on Shanu. I agree that the issue is actually whether the applicant should be allowed to revert to her former religion or embrace another religion.

    If you go to The People’s Parliament and read the postings under ‘Lina Joy: Why the Controversy?’ Haris made such crystal clear clarification. The issue is constitutional. However, the civil courts in deciding that matter also took the path of least resistance and proclaimed that they do not have the jurisdiction and reverted the matter back to Syariah court. And this single action now haunts us today when it is being reffered to and even calls are being made to ammend the constitution in accordance to spirit of the civil courts ruling. We had people in the judiciary who didn’t act when it mattered. There’s no point having your rights guaranteed if the mechanism that ensures that this guaranteed rights are not violated, does not function. Fix the judiciary, then things start to fall into place.

    And yes, nobody can force anybody against their will. There’s something in us that they can’t take away.

  15. ckh says:

    I converted 7 years ago to marry my wife. Not a religious person then nor now, did it in order to get married.

    Totally agree with Patricia, the pressure from in-laws, relatives were tremendous, and we wouldn’t have gotten married if i didn’t convert, whether its allowed under the malaysian law for a non-muslim to marry a muslim. However, did know somebody who denounced islam and married a non-muslim, thought not sure how she did it!!( Suspect she being a Mamak Indian has something to with it :-) )

    Guess i just took the easy way out. For me it was very much an end that justify the means, as cold as it may sound……
    ___________
    Definitely didn’t know that denouncing Islam was allowed. It’s surprising news.

    And don’t be dejected about “taking the easy way out”. Couldn’t have been easy if you can relate to the pressure.

    Cheers.

  16. vinod says:

    If this is the case, can we prescribe to the non-Muslims in Malaysia to set up their own “rehabilitation camp” for those who wants to convert out of their curent religion?In that way, the so called ‘murtads’ of the non Muslims can be ‘rehabilitated” so that they will not convert to another religion.

    Personally, i feel religion is our own bloody business…but the way things are going now rest assured that even non Muslims like me will have an idea to have a “rehabilitaion camp” in order to prevent people from converting to Islam…

  17. ienma says:

    I think this issue is never ending. There will be no right or wrong in this matter, because in religion, there is none. Every religion teaches its followers to do good.

    So for me if i do convert next time because of my bf, its my business with him, not the government. Im doing it for the sake of our families next time. How can I tell my kids if they ask why our marriage is not valid?

    People always tell me I have a choice. What is the choice? If i dont want to convert, then our marriage wont be valid. Thats not a solution. if we marry outside of Msia, then come back and stay, our marriage is still not valid. So whats the solution? Go and find sum1 else? Thats not a solution either, because we both love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives with each other.

    So i really dont agree when people say i have a choice in Malaysia. What choice i do i have?
    _____________
    Thanks for sharing this with me.

  18. Ellyas Isaac says:

    –”“People of the Book” referred above, as I understand it, no longer exists. Thus, a Christian or a jewish person for example will have to convert before they can marry a moslem, man or woman!”–

    As I’m a Muslim man,I am strongly DISAGREE with these such a quotation!’PEOPLE OF THE BOOK’ still exist until at the end of the world.The God(Allah in Arabic)never said that the ‘People of The Book’ are no longer exist on the Earth!Jews & Christians are considered as ‘The People of The Book’ B’cuz Both of them share the faith toward ‘the only One God’ concept with Islam too!Actually a Muslim man can marry with a ‘The People of The Book’ women which means wheather they are a JEWISH or a CHRISTIAN.All the Muslim person please don’t make the judgement above the God’s judgement!
    (semua umat Islam janganlah kamu mencipta sesuatu hukum yang melebihi@mengatasi hukum ciptaan Allah!)

  19. Sarah says:

    Hello, I really do feel sorry for you. Do you have any dependents? Its not fair how you were treated. I did hear something bout Muslim marrying a jew or chatholic, that you dont need to convert. I guess the higher people in Malaysia like to be God themselves.

    Let me tell you my story, Im Malay born and grew up in London. Im Married to my husband who is Malaysian. He is a chinese/buddha. In my whole life, ive been thought that Islam is not forcing, its full of grace and love and its modern too. Im not muslim myself, I believe there is a god and theres a after life.

    My husband and I live happily together. He has his own belief and i have mine. Looks like Malaysia is going backward when men rule. It should be peace and living together despite what race and religion you are. I think its not fair for those Malays who cant get human rights.

    When i come back from holidays it disgust me when i see most Datuks as they called themselves getting drunk flirting with young girls. And if the JAIS come they just go out through the back door give them some money and see them the next nite. But for those who just go for drinks not alchohol and socialise its rehab for them. So i think they should close all pubs and clubs for good. Its funny when the Menteri wont even let Rihanna come to Malaysia cause shes sexy.

    If you come to England, the Imam here wears 3 piece suit with a clean shave, never long beard or wear the smelly parfume(dont know what they put in). Not forcing. Cause they believe to go forward not to live in a stoneage 3,000 years ago.

    This is 2009, be civil, everyone should be treated equal not regarding their race or religion. I believe its totally up you what you want to follow, cause at the end of the day, when you die, you die alone.

  20. Sarah says:

    # everone should be treated equal no matter what race or religion.

  21. Born Free says:

    In vietnam and some muslim countries , the muslim and non-muslim greet each other – using the muslim greetings. Here in Malaysia , they were perturbed using it. Why? Don’t know and don’t want to know.

    We have very strong muslim and non-muslim friends and they told us that ‘cari makan’ is more important.Only when their stomach is full then they cari pasal.

    In middle east , the hulabala is all about oil and land and not religion.In Asia, it is about votes.Polarisation occurs when leaders formulated policies that lost the foresight on future consequences.Agreed, nobody is perfect. But nobody seem to have a panacea for this malady.

    We have a large groups of Malaysian ( all races-Male/Female) that are not prejudiced. We are blessed to be educated and see things differently. We use our rationale rather then basic instincts.

    Everyone in our circles of friend ( all religions) have agreed that Islam have indeed been hijacked for personal gain.We wish for the day when we can all sit together and have teh tarik and kepoh about each other without prejudice.

    At my age of 60 , I still am blessed that majority of my friends are still non-prejudicail about religion. We still embraced each other when we meet.This respect comes from our heart and not from religion.

    We hope that the 1Malaysian concept is a reality and it takes a lot of hard works and commitements. We may not see it during our life time but must be a reality for our sake of our country 1st and our family 2nd.

    You have to be make harsh decision to make 1Malaysia a reality and it must done quickly.


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