Malaysia's Top Court to Rule on Child Islam Conversion

Malaysia's Top Court to Rule on Child Islam Conversion
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

What you need to know

Malaysia's highest court will decide whether one parent can convert a child to Islam without the other parent's consent.

Malaysia's Federal Court today fixed Nov. 14 and 15 for the hearing of M Indira Gandhi's appeal to challenge the unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam by her former husband, Muhammad Ridhuan Abdullah.

The date was confirmed by lawyers M Kulasegaran and Aston Paiva, who are appearing for Indira Gandhi.

On May 19, the Federal Court granted the kindergarten teacher leave for the highest court in the country to decide on three questions of law on the conversion of the children.

This came after the Court of Appeal having, in a majority 2-1 decision on Dec. 30, overturned the Ipoh High Court decision that declared the unilateral conversion as illegal and hence, null and void.

In 2009, Ridhuan converted the three children - two daughters and a son - when they were 12, 11 years old and 11 months respectively, without their mother's presence and three other conditions as required under Section 96 of the Administration of Islam, Perak Enactment 2004.

The three questions of law to be decided after a three-member bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin granted Indira’s leave application the leave are:

  • Whether the High Court has exclusive jurisdiction, pursuant to Sections 23, 24 and 25 and the Schedule of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (read together with Order 53 of the Rules of Court 2012) and/or its inherent jurisdiction to review the actions of the Registrar of Muallaf or his delegate acting as the public authorities in exercising statutory powers vested by the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004;
  • Whether a child of a marriage registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1979, who has not attained the age of 18 years, must comply with both Sections 96(1) and 106 (b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004 (or similar provisions to state laws throughout the country), before the Registrar of Muallaf or his delegate may register the conversion to Islam of that child; and
  • Whether the mother and father (if both are still surviving) of a child of a civil marriage must consent before a certificate of conversion to Islam can be issued in respect of the child.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Malaysiakini.

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First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole