Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The case of Mohan Singh frightens me. I see good sense and good governance thrown out the window. Many would say I have no right to speak on this issue and it does not concern me but sadly it does and my qualification is i am a citizen and a Muslim. The idea that i must abide by those who authorise and learned in the religion seems absurd! When did Islam has such a dogma? My prophet was illiterate, he ask us to pray to God individually, he taught us we are duty bound to the almighty and he detest the priest of yore who talk to the gods on behalf of the common man but now we are ask to seek men in robes before commenting anything about our religion? funny!!

I look at the story of Muhammad to find the hikmah our prophet has. I found it in the way he tackles the problem of Banu Qurayza a Jewish tribe in Madinah. To those who are not knowing in Yathrib (the old name for Medina) there were three tribes of Jews living there when Muhammad arrive. Banu Quraizah Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir. To those who hated Mohammad what happen to the jewish tribe is always highlighted and i am not going to get myself drawn to argue on that. I always say Muhammad is a prophet he is leader he is a husband and importantly he is a man. When we seek to understand him we must understand that. In this case I look him as a leader who dispense justice against the jews, I do not seek and need to apologies for what happen but understand him as a great leader.

You might be wondering what it has to do woth Mohan and the rest. First when he tried Banu Quraizah for treason againts the state he ask them in which law you want to be punish. They reply they want to be tried under jewish law so Muhammad call his friend a former jew and one whom they (the tribe) regard as friend Saad Ibn Mu'ad who was badly injured during the war. He will later succumb to the wound inflicted.

So a trial was set up and as the stroy goes
The Muslims now commenced a 25-day siege against the Banu Qurazya's fortress. Finally, both sides agreed to arbitration. A former ally of the Banu Qurayza, an Arab chief named Sa'd ibn Muadh, now a Muslim, was chosen as judge. Sa'd, one of the few casualties of battle, would soon die of his wounds. If the earlier tribal relations had been in force, he would have certainly spared the Banu Qurayza. His fellow chiefs urged him to pardon these former allies, but he refused. In his view, the Banu Qurayza had attacked the new social order and failed to honor their agreement to protect the town. He ruled that all the men should be killed. Muhammad accepted his judgment, and the next day, according to Muslim sources, 700 men of the Banu Qurayza were executed. Although Sa'd judged according to his own views, his ruling coincides with Deuteronomy 20:12-14.

The hikmah here is the right of the non believers to choose the law there are comfortable with why cant Mohan Sing and the rest seek this hikmah! Why do we need to tell them they must seek remedy in the syariah court for they are not Muslim, Why?

show details Jul 6 (3 days ago)

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High Court refers Mohan Singh's conversion to syariah court (Updated 4.45pm)

6 Jul 09 : 10.15AM

By Deborah Loh
deborahloh@thenutgraph.comdeborahloh at thenutgraph dot com

Updated 4.45pm on 6 July 2009

SHAH ALAM, 6 July 2009: The High Court here gave jurisdiction to the Syariah Court to determine if art director Mohan Singh a/l Janto Singh was a Muslim at death, despite his Sikh family's dispute of his conversion.

Judge Rosnaini Saub said the civil court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter based on the Selangor State Enactment and the Federal Constitution's Ninth Schedule.

Both laws state that the syariah court has jurisdiction over persons professing Islam and matters that include declaring whether a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of death.

With this ruling, the High Court dismissed an application by Mohan's family challenging the Sungai Buloh Hospital's decision to withhold his body from them pending confirmation by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) on his religious status.

The High Court also dissolved its own injunction issued on 1 June 2009 to stop the hospital's release of the body to any party pending a decision on jurisdiction.

Mais will now take possession of Mohan's body from the hospital for burial according to Islamic rites. He will be buried at the Sungai Buloh Muslim cemetery today.

The court also rejected a request by the family's lawyer, Rajesh Kumar, for a stay of the decision pending an appeal to the Court of Appeals. Despite the rejection, Rajesh said he would file an appeal in Putrajaya today.

Mohan's family, comprising his step-father and three sisters, were silent when Rosnaini announced her decision. One of the sisters began crying softly.

However, the family was allowed to take the body to their home in Selayang to pay their last respects before they had to hand it over to Mais later, Rajesh said after the court announced its judgement this morning.

Certificate of conversion accepted

Judge Rosnani decided that Mohan's conversion certificate was acceptable, notwithstanding the dispute by his family.

She found that the purported conversion in 1992 to be a "highly disputed question of fact", but also said that "the applicants' averment that they are not aware of the deceased's conversion to Islam does not mean that the conversion did not take place."

"It is unfortunate that the deceased [did] not [tell] them," she said.

Since the court found that the certificate's existence was "sufficient proof" that he had converted, Rosnaini said that Mohan was therefore a Muslim. His Muslim name, according to the certificate, was Mohammad Hazzery Shah Mohan Abdullah.

She also said that even though the Penang Administration of Muslim Law Enactment 1959, which governed Mohan's conversion in 1992, did not have a provision to regard a conversion certificate as conclusive, it did not mean that the court could not accept the document.

She said the certificate was issued as an administrative practice to record conversions to Islam, and "in [the] absence of any evidence that the certificate is a forgery or was fraudulent, there is no reason why this court should not accept it as proof of conversion".

Lifestyle versus the law

Mohan's family had disputed his conversion through affidavits filed by one of his sisters, Baldi Kaur a/p Janto Singh, who said Mohan had always lived in Selangor. His conversion certificate states that he converted in Penang.

Baldi Kaur also said the family had no knowledge of his conversion as Mohan had lived like a Sikh even after 1992. He married a non-Muslim who bore him a child who was given a Punjabi name. In his marriage register and in his child's birth certificate, he maintained his Punjabi name and Sikhism as his religion.

He also performed Sikh funeral rites for his mother. And there was no change in his identity card details after his purported conversion.

Judge Rosnani said that even if a convert's lifestyle was inconsistent with that of a Muslim's, it "does not alter his status as a Muslim in the eyes of the existing law".

She ruled that even though Mohan converted in Penang, the Selangor enactment deemed anyone who was registered anywhere else as a Muslim a convert in the state of Selangor unless the syariah court declared otherwise.

She also rejected the submission by the family's lawyer that Mohan's conversion was never registered. She cited a letter from the Penang Islamic Religious Affairs Department dated 25 May 2009, the date of Mohan's death, confirming that he had converted to Islam and was registered in Penang.

Case law

Referring to the case law raised during the arguments on jurisdiction, Rosnaini said that even if not all parties to a dispute were Muslim, it did not mean that the civil court had jurisdiction to hear the matter.

She said this was especially so if the subject matter was within the domain of the syariah court, such as, in this case, the question of whether Mohan died a Muslim.

She said Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution prohibits the civil court from interfering in such a matter.

"Therefore, it cannot be a correct proposition of the law when the applicants' counsel submitted that the civil court shall have jurisdiction over the subject matter because the applicants are non-Muslim," she said.

During submissions, Mohan's family's lawyer had argued based on the case of Latifah Mat Zin v. Rosmawati Sharibun & Anor, in which the judge decided that all parties to a dispute must profess Islam in order for the dispute to be heard in the syariah court.

Where do they go?

Rosnaini acknowledged that Mohan's family had neither recourse in the syariah court because they were non-Muslims, nor in the civil court because it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of Mohan's religious status.

To this, she said the matter had to be resolved by lawmakers and not by the courts.

She cited Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamed, who was the Federal Court judge in the Latifah Mat Zin case, who, in his judgement said that since neither court had jurisdiction based on the state and federal laws which created them, it was up to the legislators to remedy the situation.

"Either court obtains its jurisdiction from statute, not from the fact that the other court does not have jurisdiction over the matter. ...Where can the applicants go in such a scenario?...It is not the court's function to remedy it," Rosnaini said, quoting Abdul Hamid.

Muslim groups upset with religious conversion ruling

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Pembela, a coalition of Muslim NGOs, today condemned the cabinet’s recent decision on religious conversion of children, calling it unconstitutional and irrational.

The Muslim NGO’s criticism of the decision could prove tricky for Datuk Seri Najib Razak as he attempts to balance the interest of Muslim and non-Muslim groups.

The cabinet recently decided that children should be raised in the faith of their parents while they were married even if one spouse becomes a Muslim.

“We totally disagree because of the way they made the statement. Unless there are amendments to the constitution then the statement made is not law.

“However, they have made it seem that when a minister says something then it is law, This is one of the issues which can bring doubts to some parties,” said Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia’s president Yusri Mohamad.

He told reporters that the decision made goes against Islamic laws and the constitution.

“In article 12 section 4 in the constitution, the faith of a child who is not yet an adult is determined by the parents. The courts has interpreted that the parents has to right to decide regardless if they are the husband or wife,” Yusri added.

Pembela believes the cabinet ruling will deny the parent who converts to Islam his or her right and responsibility over the future of the children. They feel that the decision is not fair to those who want to convert to Islam

The group also feels that the government was rushed into making a decision on the issue when it should have been conducted properly with collaboration of all parties. The group reiterated that this issue should not be sensationalized because it would not be healthy for the country.

“We should address it professionally with a cool head and objectively. We have procedures and processes in place. I would like to highlight that there has been a high level discussion organized by the attorney general.”

The government had asked the attorney general to hold a series of discussion with religious experts and NGOs.

“I would like to ask what has happened to those discussions? Why did the cabinet suddenly make a decision which actually is hard to accept by everybody. What was recommended by the cabinet is not sustainable,” he argued.

Yusri urged all parties to consider the realities of the country and not have an attitude that will make the situation worse. He was disappointed that many Malaysians think that a non-Muslim would not be able to get a fair trial in a Shariah court.

“This is not helpful and we will not be quiet if the Shariah court is given that image. The notion that a Shariah court will not give a fair trial to non-Muslims is a blatant and an unacceptable accusation,” he said.

Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) president Zaid Kamaruddin also added that the decision was one sided and pleased only a minority in the country.

“The cabinet has not taken account the opinions of the majority. We also would like to complain that the decision was irrational. We understand the Muslim’s fuse is a bit long, that is why there are many who are still patient because they believe that the government can solve this issue.”

“But in this context, we see that it going against Islam and we have yet to receive a reaction from the Cabinet after the incident has happened. This is not a solution to this problem,” Zaid said.

Malaysian move on conversion welcomed

April 12th, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by admin Tell a Friend -

Kuala Lumpur, April 12 (IANS) Two major political parties, besides representatives of the bar and religious groups have supported the government’s proposed move for a law that any non-Muslim seeking to convert to Islam must inform the family in writing. The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) that has spoken for the 33 percent ethnic Chinese population since the country became free and the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) welcomed the move Friday.

There is no word yet from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) that, like MCA, is part of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) and speaks for the eight percent ethnic Indians.

MIC is currently afflicted by dissensions following last month’s poll debacle.

Malaysia has a majority Muslim population and Islam is the official religion.

In announcing the proposal Thursday, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the absence of a ruling concerning non-Muslims resulted in problems like the oft-reported disputes over religious burial rites when a convert dies.

He said those who wanted to convert to Islam must inform their family through a form or letter declaring that their family had been told.

There had been a number of such cases highlighted in the press over the years, some of which had ended up in litigation, The Sun newspaper noted Saturday.

Opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP)’s Indian origin chief Karpal Singh said: “This move is necessary to avert any misunderstanding when claims are made to bodies of non-Muslims who have converted to Islam when they die.”

“What is more important, and which requires to be addressed immediately, is the necessity of making it easier for non-Muslims who have converted to Islam, to revert to their original religions, in keeping with freedom of religion if they so desire, as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution,” said the lawyer-lawmaker.

“As the position stands, non-Muslim converts are required to resort to the Sharia Court to renounce Islam, and are further required to undergo rehabilitation. In my view, no obstacle should be placed in the way of non-Muslim converts who wish to renounce Islam,” he added.

Karpal Singh urged the government to relax the requirement for non-Muslim converts to go to the Sharia Court to renounce Islam.

“There is considerable concern and disquiet among non-Muslim converts who wish to renounce Islam,” said Karpal Singh

MCA president Ong Ka Ting welcomed the move. “MCA’s stand has been consistent in pushing for such a move. However, we would like to seek clarification on the process of implementation of such a requirement.”

Ong sought a time period for the intending convert to inform the family members and that the process should be ‘transparent’.

“The court also must not allow the unilateral conversion of any minor children resulting from the civil marriage. The court should not view this as a loophole as the religion of the child should remain status quo until he/she attains the age of majority,” Ong said.

Bar Council’s Indian origin woman chief, Ambiga Sreenevasan called it “an important first step”.

Islamic religious authorities must be satisfied that the family members have been duly notified. “They should require documented proof of such a notification. A self-declaratory document from the intending convert will not suffice,” she added.

A. Vaithilingam, the Indian origin chief of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said: “This is a positive first step in ensuring that our laws and system of administration are not abused by those wanting to avoid their obligations to their loved ones by converting to Islam.”

He recommended that there should be “black-and-white proof” of notification from the convert.



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