According to the NST report, PM Najib's Cabinet has decided that
- civil courts are the right place to dissolve a marriage in the event of a spouse converting to Islam.
- if either spouse were to convert to Islam, the children should follow the faith that the parents had agreed on at the time of marriage, or implied by their common religion.
- the attorney-general should review and propose changes to the law to prevent any future complications to the family unit when a spouse converted to Islam.
Nazri said religion should not be used as a tool to allow a party to a marriage to run away from his or her responsibility as husband or wife."The cabinet feels there is an implied and constructive contract between husband and wife that their children should be brought up in accordance with the common religion at the time of marriage or whatever religion they had agreed their offspring should practise (at the time of marriage).
Conversion should come with responsibility for two reasons. The first is to protect the innocent party from being treated unfairly and victimised.
The second is to protect the new religion of the person who converted to the new faith or in this case, Islam.
The marriage followed civil law and the cabinet stands by the principle that a civil marriage should be dissolved in a manner provided for by civil courts.
Conversion to another religion is not a ground for automatic dissolution of a civil marriage.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Maj-Gen (R) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, who is in charge of Islamic affairs, will meet the relevant authorities (like the Perak Islamic Affairs Department) to settle this in accordance with the cabinet decision.
We expect the minister (Jamil) to return the children to their mother.
If it (amendment to laws) affects Islamic enactments it will be brought to the sultans' attention. We would like to hear from the public, if they feel there are loopholes.
We welcome feedback. It cannot be resolved by the government alone. As the prime minister said, the era where the government knows everything has ended."
Nazri said the question of custody in Indira's case did not arise at this juncture as the marriage had yet to be dissolved.
Nazri urged the public and non-governmental organisations to provide feedback.
The decision came following the controversy in Perak where K. Pathmanathan, 40, converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah.
He later converted his children with wife M. Indira Ghandi without informing her.
He has also been trying to get custody of two of the children, Karan Dinish, 11, and Tevi Darsiny, 12.
The third child, baby Prasana Diksa is already in his custody.
Both Indira and Ridzuan were Hindus at the time of their marriage.
PAS OPPOSES CABINET DECISION
Excerpts: Read here for more
Ketua Dewan Ulamak PAS Pusat, Dato' Mohamed Daud berkata, kabinet bukannya mahkamah yang boleh membuat keputusan mengekalkan agama anak biar pun ibu bapa sudah memeluk Islam.
"Ini sudah bercanggah. Kalau kes itu berkaitan dengan agama ia mesti melalui Mahkamah Syariah. Kalau sekali pun kabinet mahu membuat keputusan, namun dalam hal agama ia mesti dirujuk kepada jabatan berkaitan.
"Percanggahan ini terang-terang berlaku dan ia memperlihatkan keputusan kabinet hanya bagi kepentingan politik Umno," katanya ketika dihubungi di sini.
Ekoran kenyataan tersebut banyak pihak membantah termasuk Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia dan pemimpin-pemimpin politik.
Mohamed berkata, kabinet tidak boleh mengetepikan peranan Mahkamah Syariah dalam menangani isu membabitkan agama Islam.
"Keputusan yang dibuat kabinet di bawah perdana menteri baru jelas bagi menjaga kepentingan survival politik Umno untuk mempengaruhi orang bukan Islam di negara ini," katanya.
Beliau berkata, keputusan dibuat kerajaan BN tanpa merujuk kepada jabatan-jabatan berkaitan hal ehwal agama Islam.
"Ini jelas menunjukkan betapa lemahnya institusi agama berada di bawah pentadbiran kerajaan BN sekarang," ujarnya.
PAS's Dr. Mahfuz is Politicising the Issue, NOT UMNO/BN.
In Civilised Societies, the Rights of the Mother to the Baby , not the Father, Take Precedence. PAS is Dead Wrong !
A MOTHER’S RIGHTS: No religious basis to convert baby
Dr. Ibrahim Abu Bakar
(Associate Professor of the Department of Theology and Philosophy, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)
Excerpts: Read here for more
As a lecturer of Islamic theology and philosophy, I am of the view that K. Patmanathan, who is now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, should return Prasana Diksa to her mother.
The Hindu mother has every right to look after the baby.
Islamic theology does NOT impose any religious duty on the father to take away the baby girl from her Hindu mother.
This baby should NOT be prohibited by her father from being breastfed by her mother.
If he does, he is wrong and evil in Islamic theological view because Islam does not impose any religious duty on any baby regardless whether she was born to a Hindu or Muslim mother. Islam imposes Islamic religious duties upon mature men and women, not upon babies and children. Please let this baby girl be breastfed by her mother.
Some Muslims hold the view that when a husband or wife converts to Islam, he or she has the right in Islamic law to take the children with him or her and then convert the children to Islam. Islamic law does not say so.
The "Islamness" of the children is not taken into account in Islamic theology. Islamic theology will count on the "Islamness" of human beings who are mature.
The Islamic terms for mature, sensible and responsible human beings are "aqil" and "baligh". Patmanathan has been supported by some ignorant Muslims on the pretext of protecting the purity of Islam and his three children. These Muslims are wrong.
There is no Islamic legal basis for Muslims to help someone take away a baby from her mother and then convert that baby to Islam. Islam does not count on the converted babies and Islam does not reward those who have converted the babies to Islam.
The babies have NO Islamic religious duties and, therefore, they are neither rewarded nor punished for such actions.
Therefore, I support the decision by the prime minister and his cabinet that the civil marriage has to be settled by the civil court and the religion of their children be the religion at the time their parents were married in civil law. With this decision, the baby should be returned to Indira as she needs to be breastfed and cared for.
I think the police should arrest Patmanathan if he is reluctant to deliver Prasana Diksa back to Indira after the court decided to give her interim custody of her three children.
Patmanathan is a BAD Muslim if he does not hand back Prasana Diksa to her mother and does not pay compensation to Indira for looking after the baby and for breastfeeding her for two years. Being breastfed by a Hindu mother does not make the baby an infidel. She is still eligible to convert to Islam after she grows up and becomes an adult.
Patmanathan himself drank the breast milk from his Hindu mother and consumed food and drinks, probably prohibited by Islamic law, until he reached the age of 40 before he suddenly decided to convert to Islam.
He should NOT impose his Islam-ness on his children. Let them be what they want to be like he did. He grew up as a Hindu boy, a Hindu youth and then a Hindu adult before he changed his Hinduism to Islam after he had probably encountered problems in his marriage.
I do not support non-Muslims who convert to Islam just because they want to run away from their responsibilities as husbands or wives or because they want to marry Muslim women or Muslim men.
JUSTICE for the DESERVING
Excerpts: Read here for more
One of the major themes of Islam is JUSTICE.
Over and over again, the Quran underscores that to be just is always what to be a faithful adherent is all about.
In Surah An-Nisa, Verse 35, God says:It says nothing about whom one has to be just to, except that they be those who deserve it." O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (than ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.”
Certainly justice is NOT limited to only those of the SAME faith.
Thus, I welcome the announcement (by the Cabinet) that minor-aged children of people who convert will be brought up in the ORIGINAL religion that their parents were when they got married.
This is to STOP the sort of vindictive MEN who try to inflict as much as misery as they can on women they no longer love by trying to take away their children in any way they can.
Unfortunately, the state has only helped to support this vindictiveness by mostly refusing to decide on what is just.
But as they say, the proof of good intentions will always be in the pudding.
These announcements must translate into FACT.
Already the negative noises are out, alleging doom if certain processes are supposedly not followed. Forgotten is the fact that those processes may not be necessarily just. Almost all these voices are, interestingly enough, MALE.
These are the same people who insist that a woman’s primary role is to be a mother. Of course, if her husband converts to Islam and takes away her children, her mothering role becomes nullified.
He suddenly becomes the martyred single father, even though he created the situation in the first place and can easily find another woman to tend to his brood.
Meanwhile, the mother remains married to the father of the children she is forcibly separated from and cannot move on.
And this is what people call the Islamic thing to do?
I hope the Cabinet cracks the whip on these issues once and for all. No doubt this will require Parliamentary approval and that will take time.
But so much misery has been caused by these injustices and what suffers most is the image of Islam as a religion that upholds justice and equality.
It is not possible to be UNJUST and call oneself a Muslim. Unless all we care about is the form and never the substance.