Michiel UR David & Yang Lain lwn. Majlis Ugama Islam & Adat Resam Melayu Pahang [2018] 10 CLJ

 

Michiel UR David & Yang Lain lwn. Majlis Ugama Islam & Adat Resam Melayu Pahang [2018] 10 CLJ

Syariah High Court of Kuantan (Pahang)

Renunciation of Islam 

Facts of the case

1.    The First Applicant, Michiel a/l UR David (ID No.: 540512-01-5087), the Second Applicant, Padmavathy a/p Suppiah (ID No.: 560411-04-5568), and the Third Applicant, Nur Siti Hasmah binti Muhammad Ikhtiaruddin (ID No.: 900622-01-5770), residing in Kampung Baru Cherating, Pahang, have filed their applications in the Syariah High Court Kuantan to declare themselves as non-Muslims.

2.    The First Applicant was born on 12 May 1954, at Batu Pahat District Hospital, Johor, into a Christian Indian family.  Similarly, the Second Applicant was born on 11 April 1956 at Diamond Jubilee Estate Hospital in Jasin, Melaka.

3.    On 29 March 1986, the First Applicant and the Second Applicant entered into a marriage at Sivan Sri Maha Mariaman Temple in Jasin, Melaka, adhering to the customs and traditions of the Hindu religion.  They formally registered their marriage at the Southern Melaka State Registration Department.

4.    On 9 January 1989, the First Applicant underwent the process of being officially registered as a Muslim at the Batu Pahat District Kadi Office in Johor, adopting the Islamic name Muhammad Ikhtiaruddin bin Abdullah. The acknowledgement of the conversion to Islam, dated 25 January 1989, and issued by the Batu Pahat District Kadi Office Similarly, on 12 June 1989, the Second Applicant also registered herself as a Muslim, being named Fatimah binti Abdullah.  However, there is no documentary evidence of the conversion provided to the Second Applicant.

5.    Subsequently, on 22 June 1990, the First Applicant and the Second Applicant experienced the joyous occasion of the birth of their child, identified as the Third Applicant in the present case.  The Third Applicant’s Islamic name was officially registered as Nur Siti Hasmah.  However, it is noteworthy that the Third Applicant has consistently employed the name Sri Vijayalakshmi within the familial context.

6.    This pertains to a case where the First, Second, and Third Applicants, registered as Muslims, sought the Syariah High Court declaration that they were no longer adherents of the Islamic faith.

7.    This is because they believe they have never embraced the Islamic faith, and they do not hold any belief in Islam.  Therefore, the Applicants made the application to live as followers of the Hindu faith and continue their family life as they have been doing.

Issue

1.    Whether the conversion to Islam of the First Applicant and the Second Applicant is valid, and what is the status of the Third Applicant?

2.    If the legitimacy of the Applicants’ conversion to Islam is affirmed, whether the Court possess the authority to declare that the Applicants have renounced Islam based on the presented reasons?

Ratios 1.    Whether the conversion to Islam of the First Applicant and the Second Applicant is valid, and what is the status of the Third Applicant?

(a)               Referring to the provision of Section 101(1) of the Administration of Islamic Law Enactment (Pahang) 1991 (Enactment No. 3 of 1991) regarding the conditions for embracing the Islamic faith, it is as follows:

(1) The following conditions must be adhered to by someone embracing the Islamic faith:

(a) The person must recite the two testimonies of faith in Arabic.

(b) At the time of reciting the two testimonies of faith, the person must be aware that these words mean, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”; and

(c) The recitation must be made willingly by the person.

(b)   Sub-section 101(1)(b) (Enactment No. 3 of 1991), mandates that the embracement of the Islamic faith shall be deemed complete if the individual articulating the Syahadah in the Arabic language is cognizant and possesses an understanding of the conveyed words.

(c)   In this case, the Court held that even though the First Applicant had pronounced the Syahadah, he was unaware of the meaning of the phrase he uttered.  Conversely, the First Applicant’s adoption of Islam was solely motivated by the objective of obtaining financial assistance from the Agricultural Bank of Malaysia under the ASEAN-Japan Development Fund (AJDF) scheme, influenced by bank personnel who recommended embracing Islam as a precondition to streamline the approval process.

(d)   The acknowledgement by the First Applicant that all of the Applicants did not hold a belief in Islam as their faith and the declaration that they continued to adhere to Hinduism, practising Hindu teachings even after pronouncing the Syahadah, unequivocally indicated that the First Applicant never genuinely intended to embrace Islam.  Consequently, the Court fundamentally asserted that the First Applicant failed to meet the requirements of Section 101(1)(b) (Enactment No. 3 of 1991) and the legitimate conditions of the Syahadah, including-

(a)      There is an absence of sincere belief in the recitation of the Syahadah.

(b)      Inability to fulfil both the outward and inward obligation of Syahadah.

(c)      Lack of certainty and adherence to the evidentiary principles of Allah SWT.

(e)   The Court also referred to the Book of Fatawa Al-Lajnah Al-Da’imah Lil-Buhuthi Al-Ilmiyyah Wa Al-Ifta, Chapter 3, page 248, which addresses matters of faith, which signifies-

      “The authentic and legitimate expression of faith according to the principles of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah requires vocalising it, adhering to its fundamental tenets, and affirming it sincerely in the heart.  Mere verbal articulation is insufficient.  However, in the event of a person’s demise without evident signs of disbelief, proper Islamic funeral procedures, including washing, shrouding, and burial, should be observed.  Testifying to ‘There is no god but Allah’ signifies the recognition that no deity deserves worship except Allah. This testimony goes beyond verbalisation; it necessitates belief in its essence and compliance with all prescribed obligations.”

(f)     The Court referred to the case of Majlis Agama Islam Pulau Pinang v. Siti Fatimah Tan binti Abdullah, JH 227 Part II, page 185-

The Court of Appeal declared the respondent a non-Muslim, citing the incomplete nature of her conversion to Islam during the marriage.  Failure to rectify this would result in non-recognition as a Muslim unless specific Syahadah criterias were met. The respondent failed to fulfil the conditions for embracing Islam under Section 107(1) of the Administration of Islamic Law Enactment of Penang 2004 due to a lack of sincere belief in the Syahadah made in 1998.  The appellate panel upheld the Syariah High Court’s decision and dismissed the appellant’s appeal.

(g)   Therefore, based on the First Applicant’s failure to fulfil the valid conditions of the said affidavit, the Court was satisfied and concluded that the pronouncement of the affidavit made by the First Applicant on 25 January 1989 at the Office of the District Kadi Batu Pahat, constituted an invalid embrace within the Islamic faith pursuant to the provisions of Section 101(1) of the Administration of Islamic Law Enactment (State of Pahang) 1991.

(h)   Regarding the validation of the Islamic conversion claimed by the Second Applicant, is it considered legitimate or not? The Court considered the oral testimony presented by the Second Applicant on 30 October 2017, the Second Appellant making the statements that she had never declared the two statements of the syahadah, lacked a confirmation card for her conversion to Islam, and was taken by the First Applicant to the Islamic Religious Office in Batu Pahat, where an officer issued a letter for signature only.   The purpose behind visiting the Islamic Religious Office with the First Applicant was to save the marriage.  There are no witnesses from the Islamic Religious Office who can confirm the procedure of the Second Applicant’s conversion to Islam. The second applicant also has never practiced the teachings of Islam such as performing the five daily prayers, fasting, consuming halal food, and other acts that complete one’s Islamic faith.

(i)     Therefore, the Court held that based on the provided evidence and the main factual findings, namely that Padmavathy a/p Suppiah (“Second Applicant”) never recited the two declarations of the Syahadah as required by Section 101(1)(a) of the Administration of Islamic Law Enactment of Pahang 1991, along with the finding that the Second Applicant never practised Islamic teachings such as performing the five daily prayers, fasting, consuming halal food, and other actions that complete one’s adherence to Islam, the Court is satisfied that the Second Applicant’s Islamic status is an invalid conversion.

(j)     Regarding the Third Applicant’s status, according to Witness 1 Murugaiyah a/l Suppiah, the Third Applicant, along with other Applicants, have been a practitioner of the Hindu religion since childhood.  The Third Applicant and others are known to visit the temple for worship frequently.  SP1 also identifies the Third Applicant by the name Vijayalakshmi and acknowledged that as her actual name.

 

 

Decision

1.    The Court held that the conversion to Islam by the First and Second Applicants is invalid under Section 101(1) of the Administration of Islamic Law Enactment (State of Pahang) 1991.

2.    As the conversion to Islam by the First and Second Applicants was deemed invalid, the Islamic status of the Third Applicant is consequently nullified.

 

Key Take Away

1.    The procedure for embracing Islam revolves around the processes before and during the conversion to Islam.  Before embracing the Islamic faith, an individual must fulfil the prerequisites stipulated to ensure the validity of the impending Islamic conversion process according to Hukum Syarak.

 

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