Sunday, March 25, 2007

Islamic experts tell non-Muslims not to be prejudiced against syariah courts

Referring to the Court of Appeal decision last week to dismiss the appeal by R. Subashini, a Hindu, to stop her Muslim-convert husband, Muhammad Shafi Saravanan Abdullah, from going to the syariah court to dissolve their marriage and convert their children - Islamic experts said non-Muslims should not be "prejudiced" against syariah courts, as Islam is a religion which assures justice for all.

They said non-Muslims should not be worried about subjecting themselves to the syariah court to resolve matters concerning Muslims or Islam, as it is not given that the court will side with the Muslim party.

Terengganu mufti Datuk Ismail Yahya said: “We know non-Muslims are worried that the syariah court will always side with the Muslims but do not fear, there is still hope that non-Muslims could win the case.”

He said just like the procedures in the civil court, the syariah court’s judgment would be made based on the facts presented.
Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin noted that during the time of Saidina Ali, one of the early Muslim caliphs, a Jew had won a case against Ali in an Islamic court.

He said the prejudice against the syariah court stemmed from two reasons – non-Muslims do not understand that Islam promises justice for all, and the syariah courts themselves sometimes fail to reflect the level of professio­nalism required by Islam.
Yes, perhaps. But the Syariah's divine capacity for fairness is not the issue here. Like Perlis Mufti Asri said... the fear is that the mere mortals who preside over the Syariah courts today might not possess the necessary divine virtue and caliphic wisdom. What the prophet intentioned over a thousand years ago is one thing. What his followers actually do today - is quite another.

And as MP for Kota Melaka, Wong Nai Chee aptly stressed in a speech to Parliament, he did not question which laws were fairer but simply emphasising the jurisdiction of the [civil] laws, underwhich the marriage was legalised in the first place.
“I don’t question whether syariah court is just or not. What I said was the options they have. If they have already chosen a particular system, they should not be asked to go to another system as it involved two totally different laws.”

“Couples have been given the choice to register their marriages under civil laws or syariah laws. If you have chosen to register under civil laws, then they should [remain] answerable under the civil laws when one party converts.”

“Although (if one) has converted as a Muslim, you should carry out your obligation to your wife and children under civil laws,” he said.
And I agree. This respects the timeline and sequence of events giving rise to the marriage in the first place.

Touching on the disputed religious status of children resulting from botched up conversions like these, Wong suggested amending Article 12(4) which stipulates that “a person under the age of 18, the religion or faith should be decided by his guardian or parent”.
“Although Schedule 11 says that “parent” refers to singular and plural, but the courts have not been using it anymore. So let’s just amend the word ‘parent’ to parents’,” said Wong, a lawyer.
I have to agree as well. There is no justice nor fairness to allow one parent to change the religion of a child without the consent or against the wishes of the other parent.

If it is eventually ruled that the conversion of Subashini and Saravanan's children is valid, then can Subashini invoke the same unilateral parental rights and convert those children right back to Hindu?

Will Islamic laws apply to prevent this re-conversion? If they do, then shouldn't Subashini be allowed to invoke Hindu religious rights to invalidate the children's initial conversion to Islam in the first place?

The religious experts also commented on the argument that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law passed after indepen­dence, which is inconsistent with the constitution, shall be void.
Syariah Lawyers Association adviser Muhammad Burok said:

“Syariah law is not a written law as it is based on Allah’s revelation. Obviously, it did not come after indepen­dence. That is how I see it. But, in Malaysia, it becomes a problem because the syariah law is written.”
Mohd Asri said the argument of whether it was unconstitutional or not was a matter of interpretation.

He said to him, being a Muslim, the syariah law was the supreme law as it was based on the Quran.
Essentially, they are saying that Islamic law takes precedent over the Constitution because it is god's law. What they keep conveniently forgetting is that 40% of Malaysians do not believe in that version of god, and do not accept that version of laws over them. How is forcing non-Muslims to subject themselves to Islamic law any different from forcing them to convert altogether, as expressly prohibited by the Constitution and basic human rights?
Muhammad Burok invited non-Muslims to learn to accept the syariah law, saying if Muslims can go to the civil court, there was no reason why non-Muslims cannot go to the syariah court.
Well... according to dumb logic like that, shouldn't Muslims be equally compelled to subject themselves to laws of the other religions as well?
When it was pointed out that this may not be acceptable to non-Muslims, Muhammad said: “They have to learn to accept it.”
HAVE TO? You just illustrated beautifully why rational discourse is impossible with religious fundamentalists. They have only one opinion - that they are right - and their argument for everything is that God said so, and no one is bigger than god. End of argument.

Problem is, buddy, is that nobody has heard god say anything for over a thousand years. All we can hear are people like you... mere mortals (no different from 6 billion others) talking incessantly... claiming to speak on god's behalf. Claiming that your earthly pronouncements represent the heavenly will of god. Isn't that heresy?

No comments: