The ruling is related to the case of Lina Joy, who asked the Federal Court, Malaysia's highest civil judicial authority, to acknowledge her decision to convert to Christianity. This was the first such case reported in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion. Joy is now awaiting the court's ruling, which could complicate things for a government that is trying to meet the demands of the majority Muslim population and the sizeable minority of non-Muslims.
"The fundamental question in Lina's case is whether Muslims in this country can convert?" said political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda. Analysts say this is a very tricky question in multiracial, multi-religious Malaysia, where ethnic Malays, who make up over half of the country's 26 million population, are Muslims. Lina Joy, formerly known as Azlina Jailani, belonged to the ethnic Malays. She was brought up as a Muslim, but decided to convert to Christianity at the age of 26. In 1999, the National Registration Department allowed her to change the name in her identity card to Lina Joy but the ID entry for her religion remained as "Islam".
According to the Sharia law, Muslim women cannot marry men of other faiths, so Joy cannot legally marry outside the Muslim faith until the ID entry for her religion is deleted. The legal wrangling started when Joy took the department to court over the anomaly. Although Malaysia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, a court ruling in favor of Joy could have serious consequences, analysts say. "It's political dynamite. It will create instability," Abdul Razak said. "For decades, the position of Malays and Muslims have been guaranteed.
"It will open the floodgates. Now you see Malays are going to convert and the government sanctions that. Definitely there will be a huge backlash," he added. The influential Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, the Muslim youth group once led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, had demanded the Federal Court to dismiss the appeal. "Allowing Malays to leave Islam automatically will erode the status, the rights and the privileges of Malays," it said.
Meanwhile, some Islamic scholars say Joy has no chances of winning. "If Islam were to grant permission for Muslims to change religion at will, it would imply it has no dignity, no self-esteem," said Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad, senior fellow at Malaysia's Institute of Islamic Understanding. "And people may then question its completeness, truthfulness and perfection."
Source: Islamonline.comGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16