Let me take you all back to 1983 when we gathered at Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. The Christians were then on an aggressive campaign of converting Hinduism with lies and ridicule of Hinduism. They included the Evangelists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Tamil Methodist Church and others. Film actors and recently converted paid fanatics were brought in to this country to spread lies and falsehood about our religion.
FMT LETTER: From A Vaithilingam, via e-mail
A little over 30 years ago the Malaysia Hindu Sangam organised a massive Anti Conversion Rally at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur on May 12, 1983. Many will be surprised to note that the rally then was to alert Malaysian Hindus on the unethical conversion of Hindus to Christianity. Today, however, we are gathered to alert Hindus on laws enacted in 1988 victimising non Muslims by splitting our Courts into two, i.e. the Civil Court and Syariah Court.
This form of helpless victimisation was highlighted by the sudden claim of the dead body of Mt Everest climber Moorthy. No member of his family, not even his mother or his wife, knew that he had converted to Islam!
Jabatan Agama Islam claimed the body after the Syariah Court declared him a Muslim. The High Court ruled, without calling for evidence that the Syariah Court’s ruling was the end of the matter. The wife lost all the way in the Courts.
Then we also had Shamala’s case, after her converted husband unethically converted their two children without the knowledge and consent of the mother. Here again the Syariah Court endorsed the conversion and the High Court again said it could do nothing about the conversion of the children without the mother’s consent. Although granting custody of the children to the mother, the Judge ruled that she could not “expose” the children to any religion other than Islam. I understand that Shamala was forced to run away from the country because of this, and the Federal Court refused to allow her case to proceed.
The non Muslims are now being punished for the mistake made in 1988 by our non Muslim MPs of the ruling party who voted in favour of Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution giving the required 2/3 majority to approve the amendment. The Opposition voted against it. The ruling party members explained to us that they were assured that the amendment was to prevent Muslim husbands going to Civil Court after losing their cases in the Syariah and had nothing to do with non Muslims! We are now the victims of the hurriedly passed laws of the past era when proposals were not handed to the members with sufficient time to read the contents.
The time has now come for the Federal and State Governments to review Article 121 (1) and (1A) of the Federal Constitution, and all the other laws which are allowing conversion to Islam to discriminate against non Muslims.
It is now realised that at least one Islamic law was amended in the early 90s with the Hansard different from the final Gazetting of Laws! Further, in the words of the architect of Article 121(1A) Abdul Talib the amendment was never meant for the Civil Court judges to abdicate their duties and power of implementing justice for all citizens including non Muslims.
In my personal experience as a former president of both MHS & MCCBCHST I have found most of those who converted to Islam were not aware that unlike other neighbouring countries Malaysia is strictly enforcing the law of apostasy. Once you go into Islam it is an almost impossible hurdle to revert to one’s former religion. This is something most unusual to Malaysia, and is not found in Singapore or Indonesia. Therefore, it is most necessary for non Muslims to understand this rule.
I wish to appeal to the authorities concerned that when conversion into Islam is carried out, it must be carried out with the knowledge of next of kin. This notice to close relatives should have a reasonable time space. Further, both the father and mother must consent if below 18 years of age. In fact it is better if no conversion at all is done under 18 so that the child can decide when becoming a major what religion he or she wants to practice. I have seen hundreds of those who have converted with the knowledge of parents or next of kin living as happy Muslims whilst those who are converted without the knowledge of relatives are often faced with miserable experiences. We should note that such cases are few but they often gain bad publicity.
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world spreading over a period of more than 5000 years. It has survived through conquests and heavy prosetylation of many Religions. It has enriched the world with with great philosophers, saints and sages.
It has no plans to spread conversion of others to Hinduism. We do not trouble families or break them up though others have broken ours. We want to live in peace. Other religions do not have to fear of being converted to Hinduism.
Let me take you all back to 1983 when we gathered at Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. The Christians were then on an aggressive campaign of converting Hinduism with lies and ridicule of Hinduism. They included the Evangelists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Tamil Methodist Church and others. Film actors and recently converted paid fanatics were brought in to this country to spread lies and falsehood about our religion. But the effect of the Rally in 1983 was great: the Hindus arose and with the support of Government official these liars had to return home. House to House campaign was conducted by Hindus. More religious training programmes were held. Youths rose up, conversions were reduced and we all became more aware. We are NOW faced with the similar situation again.
Today the conversion band of Christians are out again. Now the situation is quite different. Evangelists are setting up churches in villages and streets. Nothing wrong in that, but, they have now local Pastors who talk about devil being in you when their God is not in you as though they have cured all their followers in the world! Why are their own kind dying everyday? Hindus must not be taken for a ride by such sentiments. Hospital visits are made by these Pastors especially looking out for ‘death bed’ patients. They attempt to touch the hearts of those in the non Christian family in this venture of death bed conversion!
We in the MCCBCHST have stood by together in all our difficulties. This is also happening to other non Christian members in the Majlis. I suggest that that the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) make a study of our complaints and that they themselves take the necessary action to prevent these excesses.
Finally, I appeal to all the Hindus in Malaysia to unite and be more alert and aware of the campaigns of conversion. From today onwards form religious awareness campaigns in all our Hindu neighborhoods. Teach your children Hindu knowledge, culture, heritage and the great teachings of our Saint and Sages. This ancient heritage of ours is spreading in the world without any effort to convert others to our religion.
The writer is former president of Malaysia Hindu Sangam & currently its advisor. The speech above was delivered at a Conference on ‘Awareness Against Conversion’ at the Sri Subramaniam Temple Hall, in Batu Caves over the weekend.