Renunciation of IslamPosted: August 6, 2008
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?