I have to make a guess here. If the court insisted that the poor lady is to be detained at the rehabilitation center to be brainwashed, it will provoke more anger against those who supported the ruling. Imagine a person who did things contrary to the religion being given consultation to mend her ways and see the true path. It would have been a great comedy indeed! Luckily, the court chose not to make a drama out of the religion.
This is the first time in Malaysia that a living person is granted to leave the religion. I don’t expect this to make way for more appeals to convert out in the future. As the learned judge said, its due to a case of failure to guide new converts by those responsible that caused this judgement. In other words, the religious authorities must tighten their control, so those of you planning to convert due to love, job offers, business opportunities, or bumi status, need to think many many times!
The other issue is that, she now have to approach NRD to change the religious status in MyKad. Wonder how long that will take. Previously Lina Joy had her request denied by NRD since no proof she converted out of Islam. But in this case, the religious body have to retract the conversion certificate. Maybe NRD will be able to change her religion status. If not, after she dies, there will be body snatching issues, and another round of court case.
Whatever it is, this verdict should not be used to convince one to approach a court belonging to another religion. For all we know, it may be a one-off case to placate and try convince non-Muslim Malaysians to have their day in syariah courts when the situation arises like when a spouse converts. Good thing Tan did not have any children with the foreigner. Then she might have to be separated from her kids, or her kids forced to be in a different religion than hers, like what happened to Subashini.
To test the reliability of such landmark judgement, perhaps other Malaysians stuck in a predicament like Tan can give it a try in the Syariah court.
Syariah Court allows convert to renounce Islam
May 8, 08 1:51pmhttp://malaysiakini.com/news/82522
The Syariah Court in Penang has allowed a Chinese convert to renounce Islam in a rare decision today. Apostasy, or renouncing the faith, is one of the gravest sins in Islam and a very sensitive issue in Malaysia where the Islamic courts have rarely allowed such renunciations and have also jailed apostates.
Syariah Court judge Othman Ibrahim said he had no choice but to allow an application by cook Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce her faith and return to Buddhism. “The court has no choice but to declare that Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah is no longer a Muslim as she has never practised the teachings of Islam,” Othman told a packed courtroom.
“I order the conversion certificate to be nullified,” he added.
Siti Fatimah or Tan Ean Huang, 38, said she had never practised Islamic teachings since she converted in 1998 and only did so to enable her to marry Iranian Ferdoun Ashanian. The couple married in 2004 but since then her husband has left her following which she filed for the renunciation.
Siti happy with the outcome
Othman said it was clear from witnesses and the evidence presented that Siti had continued to practise Buddhism even after her conversion.
He rebuked the state Islamic religious council for not counselling and looking after the welfare of new converts. “In this case, it is clear that the council has failed to live up to its responsibilities and the outcome is clear for all to see,” he said.
Siti said she was happy with the court’s decision. “I’m relieved that the matter is finally settled after two years and I am now looking forward to doing something with my life again,” she said.
The Islamic syariah courts operate in parallel to civil courts here but apply specifically to Muslims.
The court’s verdict comes amid racial and religious tensions in multiracial Malaysia, where minority religious groups fear their rights are being undermined, even though the country is traditionally seen as moderate.
Court allows Muslim convert to return to Buddhism
By PRISCILLA DIELENBERGsource
PENANG: In a landmark case, the Syariah High Court here allowed an application by Muslim convert Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah, 39, to renounce Islam and officially revert to her original faith.
The decision by Perlis Syariah Court chief judge Othman Ibrahim, who presided over the case when he was based in Penang earlier, makes this the first case of its kind in the country whereby a living Muslim convert was allowed to renounce Islam since the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (State of Penang) Enactment 2004 came into force on Jan 1, 2006.
“From the evidence, it is clear that the plaintiff had not practised the teachings of Islam and had maintained her Buddhist faith.
“Although this court views seriously such matters, this court has no choice but to give her the right to return to her original faith,” said Othman.
He granted Siti Fatimah a declaration that she was no longer a Muslim, and ordered the defendant, the state Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP), to cancel her certificate of conversion to Islam.
However, he did not grant her application to change the religious status on her identity card from Muslim to Buddhist, saying that it did not come under the court’s jurisdiction and she had to pursue the matter with the National Registration Department.
Siti Fatimah, whose Chinese name is Tan Ean Huang, from Nibong Tebal, filed the application in May 2006. In her affidavit, she said she converted to Islam in July 1998 for the sake of marrying an Iranian named Ferdoun Ashanian in 1999, and had not practised its teachings. She said Ferdoun left her a few months after they married and she has no knowledge of his whereabouts.
Siti Fatimah said she had maintained her Buddhist leanings and prayed to deities like Tua Pek Kong, Kuan Yin and Thi Kong. Othman said the court heard testimony that Siti Fatimah prayed to deities and she and her husband went to temples and ate pork.
He said that Ferdoun, as the person who brought Siti Fatimah into Islam, had failed to guide and assist her in her newly-acquired faith.
He also said he regretted that the council was not concerned about carrying out its duty involving the welfare of Muslim converts. “It is the council’s obligation to encourage, support and help new converts and ensure they follow the teachings of Islam. “The court regrets that the council did not take quick action to save the plaintiff’s faith,” said Othman.
He said the council should establish procedures to ensure proper supervision of new converts: “If this is not done, it is possible that in future there may be further cases of people coming to court to renounce Islam.”
In citing authorities, Othman said that this case had similarities to the Nyonya Tahir case in 2006 except that Siti Fatimah is still alive while the earlier case involved a person who had died.
He also said that the civil courts in the case of Lina Joy clearly stated that the jurisdiction came under the Syariah Court.
Siti Fatimah’s counsel Ahmad Jailani Abdul Ghani said the decision was a good start for Syariah law, in that a non-Muslim should not be carrying a document that stated that she was a Muslim.
The council’s counsel Ahmad Munawir Abdul Aziz said the council would appeal within the 14-day period, adding that among the concerns was the status of Siti Fatimah’s marriage as her conversion out of the religion did not dissolve the marriage.
Approached by pressmen outside the courtroom, Siti Fatimah spoke in Mandarin and Teochew and said she felt very happy as she had been waiting for this decision for such a long time. After leaving the court and a quick lunch, Siti Fatimah headed to the Kuan Yin temple in Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling here for thanksgiving prayers where she also released a cage of birds.
LANDMARK DECISION: Syariah High Court declares convert no longer a Muslim
By : Sharanjit Singhsource George Town, THURS:
The Syariah High Court in Penang has delivered a landmark decision allowing a Chinese convert to renounce Islam and revert back to her Buddhist faith.
Syarie High Court judge Othman Ibrahim said the court had no choice but to declare Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah no longer a Muslim as she had never practised the teachings of Islam.
Siti Fatimah, who is from Nibong Tebal, is a Chinese by birth. She filed the application in May last year. In her affidavit to renounce the religion, Siti Fatimah, whose Chinese name is Tan Ean Huang, said she converted to Islam in July 1998.
However she never practised any of the Islamic teachings and claimed that she had converted for the sake of marrying an Iranian named Ferdoun Ashanian in 1999, but he left her a few months later. She has no knowledge of his current whereabouts.
There was pin drop silence as Othman delivered the decision. He also chastised the Penang Islamic Religious Council for failing to live up to its responsibilities and ensuring new converts truly understood the teachings of Islam.
He said it was regrettable that the council had neglected its duties and did not act quickly enough to save Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah’s ‘akidah’ (faith).
Citing this as among causes that led to her shallow understanding of the religion, he said: “It is their obligation to encourage, support, help and ensure new converts understand and follow Islamic teachings.
“However, in this case nothing was done until the last moment when it was already too late,” he said.
Othman noted that the council only entered its representations in Siti Fatimah’s case at the end of the trial despite having been served notice right from the start.
He said the council should establish clear procedural and supervisory guidelines on the issue of conversions in and out of Islam.
Meanwhile, Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah, or Tan Ean Huang, 39, when met after the decision, said she was relieved and could now get on with her life.
“It has been traumatic for me while my case was pending. Now that it is finally over, I hope to move on.
“I also hope to be able to find a boyfriend now that the issue surrounding my religious status is cleared,” she said.
Tan, who is the eldest among eight siblings, said she was thankful her family had been supportive of her all this while.
Syariah court allows convert to renounce Islam
By : Sharanjit Singh
GEORGE TOWN: In a landmark decision, the Syariah High Court here allowed a Muslim convert to renounce Islam and return to her Buddhist faith. Syariah High Court judge Othman Ibrahim said the court had no choice but to declare Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah, whose given name is Tan Ean Huang, no longer a Muslim as she had never practised the teachings of Islam. He also ordered her conversion certificate to be annulled.
Othman said it was now up to Tan to apply to the National Registration Department to change the religious status on her identity card.
In his judgment, Othman criticised the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIP) for failing to live up to its responsibilities to Muslims in the state.
He said the council’s failure was among the causes leading to Tan not practising the faith.
His judgment detailed the meaning of murtad (apostate) and kafir (non-believer) and how Islam dealt with such issues. Othman declared that the court had no choice but to allow Tan’s application as she had produced undisputed evidence of never having followed Islamic teachings since she converted. “We have heard how she converted for the sake of marrying an Iranian man. “Witnesses have also testified how she continued to pray at Chinese temples and to various deities after her conversion,” Othman said.
Tan has been fighting for almost two years to renounce Islam and revert to Buddhism. Tan, 39, of Nibong Tebal filed an application on July 10, 2006, claiming that she had embraced Islam just for the sake of marrying an Iranian named Ferdoun Ashanian. In her affidavit to renounce the religion, Siti Fatimah said she had never practised any of the Islamic teachings despite having converted in July 1998. She said her lifestyle did not change and she continued to follow Buddhist teachings and to pray to various deities like the Tua Pek Kong, Kuan Yin and Thi Kong. Siti Fatimah said she and her husband even consumed pork after their marriage. The couple was married in 2004 but the man left her after just four months. Siti Fatimah claimed no knowledge of his whereabouts.
She wanted MAIP to declare she was no longer a Muslim under Section 61(3) of the Penang Islamic Administration Enactment. She also wanted the court to change the religious status on her identity card from Muslim to Buddhist.
The court initially ordered that she learn more about Islam and to undergo three months of counselling with the Penang Islamic Religious Department’s unit ukhwah (brotherhood) to ensure she understood the religion. However, she only attended the session once and remained steadfast in wanting to revert to Buddhism.