Posts Tagged ‘conversion’

Madam Nagamah, her children and their religion status

August 24th, 2012
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Some facts gleaned from newspapers (the facts may change as more details are revealed):

  • Madam M Nagamah passed away on 14 August 2012 at Sg Bakap Hospital. She was 64 years at the time of passing. She was from Byram Estate, Nibong Tebal.
  • Eldest son of the deceased is M Kamasantheran, aged 46 [ meaning he was born when she was 18 years old].
  • Her body was taken back to home by the family for funeral preparation.
  • JAIPP officers came for the body, saying she was a convert. No documents were provided.
  • Family refused to give in. And the officers left [how ridiculous does this sound? You’d think that a such a serious matter would involve some documentation or proof]
  • Family proceeded with funeral (cremation) at Batu Berapit Crematorium.
  • JAIPP officers went to crematorium and took the ashes of the deceased. Family got to know about it from the crematorium staff.
  • According to Penang state Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, the deceased had converted to Islam in November 2006 [Meaning she was aged about 58 at that time].  He said that  initial investigations as reported to him by JAIPP and the state Mufti Department showed that the 64-year-old had converted at the South Seberang Perai (SPS) Islamic Religious Department with registration number 11/06. The conversion was overseen by Ustaz Anuar Ismail.
  • Her name was registered as Nagamah @ Mariah Abdullah when she converted after marrying one Ibrahim Noyan and had nine children who were registered as Muslims by the National Registration Department.
  • Since both family and JAIPP had made police report, the EXCO said will leave it to police investigation.
  •  The family insists that the deceased has been a practising Hindu all this while and there’s not mention about her converting.
  • Family wants ashes back to conduct funeral rites on 14th day.


If one does a search, can find documents back in 2007 related to the husband Ibrahim Noyan. Below are the facts from 2007:

  • 10 siblings (5 men and 5 women) were seeking to change their religion from Islam to Hindu. These 10 people were born to Ibrahim Noyan and M.Nagamah.  The 10 of them grew up as Hindus and even got married to Hindus.
  • On Feb 16 2007, the 10, all of them with Muslim names and listed as Muslims on their MyKad, submitted individual sworn declarations at the magistrate’s court in Jawi, South Seberang Prai, claiming that they had been practising Hinduism since birth and prayed at Hindu temples.
  • In their declaration, they said that they wanted to change the status of their religion from Islam to Hindu.
  • They also said they were married to Hindus – although none of them had their marriages registered – and took part in Hindu celebrations, including Thaipusam. Their children were also given Hindu names.
  • Their plight was highlighted at Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng’s service centre on that day.[ So she should be aware of this case by now as back then she “hoped that the authorities can settle this issue“].
  • Their father, Ibrahim Noyah, 67, said he first married a Muslim woman known only as Sabariah but she died in 1958. He then married M. Nagamah but did not require her to convert. “Nagamah was my neighbour and I fell in love with her when she took care of me after my wife passed away,” he said.
  • Ibrahim Noyan is visually impaired since 3 years old and Nagamah took care of him after his first wife died.
  • Ibrahim and Nagamah, 60, have 10 children and 30 grandchildren. Three of the grandchildren do not have birth certificates, while some have only one parent’s name in their birth certificates.
  • V. Rathiga, 27, an athlete married to Ibrahim’s son, Kamis, 27, said she left out Kamis’ name in the birth certificates of their daughters – three-year-old Prami and one-year-old Sakti – as Kamis wanted them to be recognised as Hindus. [that’s one solution! if the law hinders, then find a workaround.]
  • While the 10 children wanted to be Hindus, the parents didn’t (meaning Ibrahim and Nagamah). According to Ibrahim he was still a Muslim and that his wife M. Nagamah had converted to Islam in 2005 and assumed the name Mariah Abdullah.
  • “I know my children and my grandchildren are facing problems with their identity cards and I don’t mind if they want to change their names from what it is now in their birth certificates,” said Mariah.
  • Ibrahim had said he started following Hindu culture and customs after his marriage to Nagamah although all their children were given Malay names while being raised as Hindus and had never stepped into a mosque.
  • The Penang Islamic Religious Council has recognised the elderly couple as Muslims.
  • However, the council also accepted the fact that the couple’s children are Hindus. “As far as we are concerned, the matter is resolved as the man had returned to the Islamic faith and his wife has embraced Islam,” said religious council chairman Shabudin Yahaya. “The council has built a house for them in Kebun Baru and are living separately from their children.”
  • Shabudin said the couple were considered Muslim as they had married according to Islamic rites.
  • He said Ibrahim Noyah, 67, had returned to the Islamic faith and his wife, M. Nagamah, 60, embraced Islam in August 2004 and her Muslim name was Mariah Abdullah.
  • Their Muslim marriage was solemnised at the religious department on Aug 11, 2004 and had been issued with the relevant documents.
  • The couple’s eldest son, Jamal Ibrahim, 42, said he hoped the authorities would help resolve their problem.


NST article: Islamic department urged to check family background (25/2/2007)

NST article: Council: Children are Hindus (25/2/2007)

NST article: In a spot over religious status (25/2/2007)


So far I can’t find any article reporting the outcome of their application to change religious status.

Interestingly, the conversion date ranges from 2005 to 2006.  Anyway the religious department says the marriage according to Muslim rites were done in 2004,  meaning she converted after marriage.

Back then, these kind of marriages existed and registering them legally wasn’t a big focus, I guess.

Ok back to the issue at hand. The religious department had shown no respect for law and order. No empathy, no sympathy. No sense of respect. No sensitivity. If conversion happened, then should bring the documents and do it properly. They simply came and took the ashes away.

So, did the deceased marry another person? If not, then M Kamasantheran (or is he Johan Ibrahim?), the eldest son should also be a Muslim and his father should be Ibrahim Noyan. Its quite impractical that they don’t know the existence of the other 9 siblings nor of their father/step-father. It feels like the deceased lead a double life with the children not knowing what happened to her.

Maybe she converted but didn’t inform her children about it and continued to live as an Hindu.

There’s no mention about the husband.  Maybe he had passed away and she returned to her Hindu family?

In the above case, if the whole family is following Hindu religion (including the deceased), then might as well leave it to the family to perform the last rites accordingly.

If the families provides proof of the deceased being a practising Hindu (especially after 2006), does it make the conversion void?

I think to safeguard ourselves, a MyDaftar-like campaign should be conducted by government to provide opportunity for non-Muslims to reaffirm their religious status via a official document or statutory declaration.  We don’t want to be victims after passing away and cause misery for the family.

And what happened to the suggestion that future converts-t0-be must inform their families/next-of-kin? All quiet?

The silence from MHS is also deafening.

On a political note, since this happened in Penang, can expect brickbats for the PR government. But I wonder what can be done legislation wise to avoid this issue in the first place. Can the enactment be amended? Would need approval from MAIPP or King?

Lawrence cremated amid conversion controversy

September 23rd, 2011
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This gets more interesting. The deceased who allegedly converted 3 days before his death was cremated according to Star article below. So what would the consequences be?

The departments says got recorded proof, but yesterday’s article did not mention anything about such recordings.

Anyway, at least the family managed to get some peace by doing a proper sending off for their loved ones.


The family of a 33-year-old businessman who apparently converted to Islam on Monday but died on Wednesday went ahead with his cremation even though state Islamic Affairs Department officials had arrived at his home to claim his body several hours earlier.

The officials came to T. Lawrence’s house, in Taman Wawasan near here, with documents to show that the deceased had embraced Islam minutes before the hearse departed.

The deceased’s family members, however, refused to release the body and police had to be called in to maintain order.

In the end, the family members managed to take his body to the crematorium at Jalan Templer.

It is learnt that Lawrence was found unconscious in one of his vehicles at his store at KM9.6 Jalan Seremban.

The father of one was pronounced dead at Port Dickson Hospital at 8pm.

Pusat Dakwah Islamiyah official Muhammad Zuwairi Baharudin said the deceased, whose Muslim name was Zairy Abdullah, went to the centre with another friend known as Shahul Hameed with the intention of converting.

“I had asked him several times if he was absolutely certain about converting to Islam and he answered in the affirmative,” he said.

Muhammad Zuwairi said he even recorded his conversation with Zairy and took pictures of the deceased for documentation purposes.

Father Clement Lim from the Immaculate Conception Church expressed shock that Lawrence had converted to Islam.

“He was a devout Catholic and an active member of our parish,” he said.


Another disputed conversion case in Seremban

September 22nd, 2011
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We just read about the college student in Perlis whom was converted, and today there’s another case in MK. This kind of problem won’t go away until the laws are tightened and more protection is given to the family institution of the non-Muslims.  Unfortunately, the powers-t0-be are not seen as doing anything to solve the problems. Rulers council, religious councils and the government – we have not heard any positive news for nearly a year now.  I think this is the problem when religions are not given equal footing in terms of administration or when laws are not fair to all.

Just imagine 30 strangers come to your house to claim the deceased’ body. What an intimidation. Will definitely create anger amid the family members. Probably the family should make a police report against criminal intimidation and harassment since no proper profof is provided, but being Bolehland, I guess the report won’t be worth the paper its was written on.

Part of the cause of this problem lies on our lawmakers, rulers and the authorities. Before asking others to be tolerant, to find alternatives or be patient, why not they correct/improvise the existing laws? Don’t simply blame the families or communities.

Anyway, what a weird situation, allegedly converted and died 3 days later.

The religious status of a recently deceased man has sent his family into a tailspin after religious authorities in Negri Sembilan went to their house to claim his body earlier today.

The body of Lawrence Selvananthan, 33, was scheduled to be brought to a church in Seremban at 3pm today for a funeral mass followed by his burial, but his family was stopped by police and Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department (JHEINS) officials who claimed that he had already converted into Islam.

The deceased’s cousin, who asked to only be identified as Jenny, said they were approached by police officers at the family home in Lukut, Port Dickson at about 12.40pm to inform them that they could not proceed with the burial.

She said the police officers showed them what she described as a photocopied document, detailing Lawrence’s alleged conversion into Islam.

“They told us that he just converted three days ago. The name and IC number were correct, but there was no photo. We’re not even sure of (the authenticity of) the signature,” she said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

It is understood that Lawrence, a lorry driver, was found unconscious in his parked lorry by family members, and declared dead on arrival at the Seremban General Hospital sometime last night. The cause of death is unclear.

Both sides in discussion

PKR’s Port Dickson state assemblyperson Ravi Munusamy, who was mediating between the two parties, confirmed that there was a stand-off between the family members and JHEAINS and police officers.

He estimated at least 30 officials went to the house to claim the body, though both sides have since entered discussions, which were still ongoing at the time of writing this article.

Ravi pointed out that the family members are sceptical over the conversion claim as the witness to Lawrence’s alleged conversion did not turn up despite being asked to verify the claim.

“Even the signature on the document is not his. His brother confirmed it is not his (Lawrence’s) signature,” he added.

Jenny stressed that the situation is only making things worse for the family, as they cannot even grieve over their loss.

“The family is very sad. His daughter lost a father and his wife lost a husband.

“They said he had already mengucap (took his vows of conversion) at the department, but by right they should have informed his family immediately. We think this is very unfair to us,” she said.


Hindu student in Perlis college converted

September 20th, 2011
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I wonder which college this is. Not many colleges/uni in Perlis. There’s UniMaP, Kolej Matrikulasi, Kolej Antarabangsa Teknologi dan Profesional, and Kolej Komuniti Arau, among others.

Its easy to say the student is a major (above 18) and able to make own decision. However, I think also need to look at the surrounding environment and the influence of the people around her. Its easy to claim that no force was used, but on the other hand, how was the influence? Was the girl given a chance to verify with her elders? Did she check with her religious authorities or leaders?

Even though she is a major, I think since she is under the care of the parents/guardian as she is still studying, this conversion should be challenged and revoked. Also, those responsible should be investigated and punished accordingly

The student herself may have lacked proper religious knowledge, mainly due to lack of support from family and community. Also since authorities are not helpful nor supportive enough, the community is left to fend for themselves to teach religion to their children (imagine if had religious class in school). To add to this, she took up silat, which could have been another additional influence for her.

Even in universities, there’s a lack of support for other religions, with administrators claiming that they have done enough by providing bus service to temples or vegetarian food on certain days or by organising Ponggal and Deepavali events.

Another thing, this can constitute abuse of power or responsibility, since the lecturers are in a position of influence and authority over the student. Their action will cast a mark on the integrity and professionalism of the institution. Furthermore, if indeed the rules were broken, then its a criminal act.

I remember that ex-PM mentioned the rules on conversion will be revised and some changes were propsed, but it seems the Rulers Council rejected it. While the issue is being dilly-dallied, more cases like this will occur.

The crux of the problem is whether the relevant parties were informed or not. Why need to create problem the family and cause misery for them?

Seorang pelajar kolej beragama Hindu, yang didakwa ‘dipaksa’ memeluk Islam Julai lalu oleh pensyarahnya telah mengambil langkah itu secara sukarela tanpa sebarang unsur paksaan daripada mana-mana pihak, kata Jabatan Agama Islam Perlis (Jaips).

Ketua Penolong Pengarah Dakwah Jaips, Kesumawati Kassim memberitahu The Malaysia Insider, pihaknya tidak berhadapan dengan sebarang masalah untuk mendaftarkan pelajar itu kerana dia telah memenuhi syarat-syarat menganut Islam mengikut kemahuannya.

Pelajar itu memeluk Islam Julai lalu dan berbula ketika Ramadan lalu.

Kesumawati berkata, dia hadir di Jaips bersama tiga saksi iaitu dua pensyarah dan isteri seorang pensyarahnya bagi mendaftarkan pengislaman secara sah.

Dalam satu kenyataan Khamis lalu, Persatuan Agama Hindu (MHS) mendakwa seorang pelajar perempuan sebuah kolej di Perlis telah ditukar agama sebagai Muslim tanpa keizinan ibu bapanya dan tindakan itu bertentangan dengan peraturan.

Ibu pelajar itu juga, menurutnya, telah membuat laporan polis terhadap insiden tersebut.

Gadis itu difahamkan telah membuat laporan polis menyatakan pengislamannya bebas daripada sebarang paksaan.

Mengulas mengenai dakwaan bahawa Jaips turut mengambil kesempatan terhadap golongan bukan Islam yang miskin, Kesumawati berkata, tidak timbul isu pihaknya berbuat demikian, sebaliknya golongan saudara baru terbabit sendiri hadir di pejabatnya menyatakan mahu memeluk Islam.

Sebaliknya kata beliau, pihaknya lebih kepada membantu dan membimbing mereka dalam mendapatkan kefahaman sebenar tentang Islam.

“Pihak Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia turut bekerjasama dengan Jaips bagi membantu saudara baru ini mendalami Islam dengan menyediakan kelas Fardu Ain dan kemudahan penginapan bagi menjamin keselamatan mereka,” katanya.

“Namun begitu, terpulang kepada individu terbabit sama ada mahu memanfaatkannya atau tidak. Kami hanya boleh membantu, bukan memaksa,” tegasnya lagi.

Dalam satu kenyataan Khamis lalu, Presiden MHS RS Mohan Shan berkata, siasatan pihaknya juga menunjukkan tiga pensyarah kolej di negeri itu terlibat dalam kerja menukar agama pelajar terbabit dan beberapa kakitangan Jaips sendiri tidak mematuhi peraturan dalam soal tersebut.

Jaips berkata hanya dua pensyarah menguruskan kes pelajar berkenaan dengan dibantu isteri salah seorang pensyarah terbabit.

“Pensyarah-pensyarah dan pegawai jabatan agama terbabit juga mendakwa mereka tidak menyedari kewujudan peraturan sedemikian,” kata Mohan.

Justeru, Mohan berkata, perkembangan itu menunjukkan sikap tidak bertanggungjawab ahli akademik sedangkan mereka seharusnya menjaga kepentingan agama, budaya dan sosial pelajar masing-masing demi memastikan perpaduan, keamanan dan keharmonian di kalangan golongan pelajar terpelihara.

Sehubungan itu kata beliau, persatuan tersebut memandang serius kejadian itu dan akan membawa perkara berkenaan ke perhatian Menteri Pengajian Tinggi dan juga Perdana Menteri dalam waktu terdekat.

Mengulas lanjut kenyataan Jaips, Mohan yang turut dihubungi The Malaysian Insider berkata, pihaknya terkilan dengan tindakan pensyarah-pensyarah terbabit dan menjadi tanda tanya seolah-olah mereka mempengaruhi pemikiran gadis tersebut untuk memeluk Islam.

Katanya, pihaknya tidak kisah jika pelajar berkenaan memeluk Islam tetapi pendekatan yang digunakan oleh mereka menjadi persoalan.

Kata Mohan, pelajar berkenaan telah dibawa ke rumah pensyarah pada 1 dan 15 Julai lalu dalam usaha mengislamkannya.

Selain itu, tindakan mereka membawa pelajar terbabit dari institut pengajiannya dan kemudian ke Jaips turut dipersoalkan Mohan.

Ini kerana perkembangan itu tidak dimaklumkan kepada pihak pengurusan institut terbabit dan ibu bapa.

“Tindakan pensyarah-pensyarah ini seakan-akan menggalakkan pelajar lain turut dipengaruhi mereka,” katanya lagi.

Tambah beliau, kerajaan seharusnya mengambil tindakan tatatertib terhadap ketiga-tiga mereka yang terlibat, dua pensyarah dan seorang isteri kepada pensyarah terbabit.

Menurut Mohan lagi, silibus kokurikulum silat yang diambil pelajar berkenaan di institut tersebut turut mempengaruhinya memandangkan dia merupakan pelajar bukan Islam tunggal mengikutinya.


The earlier article which MHS exposed the issue:

The Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) has decried the alleged involvement of staff from a local college in Perlis together with officials of the state Islamic affairs department (JAIP) in the conversion of an Indian student to Islam.

In a statement issued yesterday, MHS president RS Mohan Shah expressed shock that three lecturers of the college had a hand in the conversion of the female student, when they should have been focused on their students’ “development of knowledge, skills and talent”.

“It is disappointing, therefore, to note that these staff members getting involved in religious conversion of students when they should, in fact, safeguard the religious, cultural and social interests of their students to ensure unity, peace and harmony among students in these multiracial institutions of higher education,” said Mohan Shah.

According to Mohan, the lecturers and JAIP officials failed to “follow the rules.” When confronted on the matter, the lecturers concerned said “they were not aware of the rules”, he added.

“MHS takes a serious view of this incident and will bring this matter to the attention of the minister of higher education and also to the prime minister for necessary action,” he said Mohan Shah.


subtle conversion at work?

August 16th, 2011
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I’m worried after reading the article below. There’s no mention of the children age or their status. Imagine young children from orphanages being exposed to “better understanding of the Hari Raya celebration”. To me, it can be construed as proselytization. MCCBCHST should look in to these kind of treatment of such children from homes and ensure the innocent and vulnerable children are afforded freedom to practise their religion and not influenced by over enthusiastic preachers. I don’t think can depend on Jabatan Kebajikan as they lack the resources and reasons for this.

If its really about knowing other religions, I’ll love to see the Yayasan organise similar programs to allow children of all religion to attend events like Chap Goh Mei, Thaipusam, Good Friday, Wesak Day, Vaisakhi, Navarathiri Festival, Hungry Ghost Festival and so on. There’s plenty that kids nowadays are not aware of other religions/communities festivals and they tend to mock other people’s festivals.

The Yayasan Harapan Kanak-Kanak Malaysia (YHKM) is set to provide a unique experience for non-Muslim children to fast and celebrate Hari Raya under the Ramadan and Raya 1Malaysia programme.

The Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor said that the pilot programme, involving approximately 50 non-Muslim children, is to create a better understanding of the Hari Raya celebration among Muslims.

Rosmah, who is also a patron for YKHM, said the children would join their host families on the last day of Ramadan and celebrate Hari Raya for two days.

“I hope such programmes will produce young Malaysians who are tolerant and respectful of each other,” she said in her speech delivered by YHKM advisory board member Datuk Atikah Adom yesterday.

The Majlis Iftar Prihatin, attended by 150 orphans, was funded by Concorde Hotel Network chairman, Tan Sri Syed Mohd Yusof Syed Nasir and organised by the Persatuan Amal Bakti Ramadan Malaysia and 10 other charitable organisations.