‘Islamic Bill being used to incite hatred’

Perak Mufti says the new Bill is redundant and accuses ‘certain parties’ of inciting hatred towards the Muslim community by playing up the issue. 

Lisa J. Ariffin, FMT

Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria today claimed the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was being used by certain quarters to incite hatred towards the Muslim community.

The outspoken Islamic scholar told FMT that the Bill was only formalising a standard practice which was agreed upon “since Merdeka Day”.

“Unilateral child conversions has been agreed upon since Merdeka Day. Why do they only want to bring it up now?” Harussani asked.

“They only want to incite hatred towards the Muslims,” he said.

Harussani told FMT that the consent of single parents for the conversion of minors to Islam had always been the practice in the country.

“If one parent is Muslim then the child has to be Muslim. This is based on Islamic law and cannot be contested,” he said.

Since the Bill was tabled in Parliament last week, critics have cried foul because it means seeking the consent of either parent instead of both – a move deemed to be unconstitutional and contravening the Cabinet’s prohibition.

In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam in an attempt to appease the non-Muslim community.

Despite the Cabinet’s decision in 2009, there have been such cases, among them a Hindu mother in Negeri Sembilan who discovered that her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisles are already banding together to thwart the Bill that they fear may lead to more of the agonising custodial battles that are associated with marital breakdowns where only one parent is Muslim.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin acknowledged there were “issues” in the Bill, but he defended the move by stressing that the Cabinet had used “several guidelines” in assessing and ultimately approving the Bill to be tabled in Parliament.