PRESS RELEASE MUSLIM YOUTH MOVEMENT MALAYSIA (ABIM) 7TH February 2015 CONVERT SPOUSE PLAN: ABIM ADVISE TO REFER EXPERT
Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) is against Negeri Sembilan’s proposal to compel couples to divorce in civil court first if one spouse wants to convert to Islam. ABIM oppose the said suggestion and instead repeat our stand that the Syariah Court should open its doors to non-Muslim couples to be heard and tried.
The requirement for both parties to be Muslim (before going to shariah court) in the state enactment should be amended first. This is so that Syariah Courts, especially those in Negeri Sembilan, can open their doors to non-Muslims in situations where their rights overlap with their Muslim spouse. Besides, this will allow Islamic laws, that take into account the rights and principle of justice for non-Muslims, to be used when such cases come up before the Syariah Court.
ABIM viewed that the suggestion to make it mandatory for converts to first end their marriage with their non-Muslim spouse at the civil courts, would be an "obstacle to the individual to embrace Islam immediately". By referring to many lengthy divorce processes, apart from alimony and the custody of the children, had many "disputed" cases which can prolong for years. Having said so, the would be convert will be 'forced' to disregard his plans for years just to settle the divorce case first.
Furthermore, it will get complicated when the spouse who wish not to convert is against the divorce. We are worried that this will be taken into account by the Civil Court judge on the principle of the civil divorce, whereby a change in religion would not necessarily be grounds for divorce. If this happens, will the person who wish to embrace Islam be prevented to convert according to the state law, which, clearly goes against freedom of religion as enshrined in the federal constitution?
ABIM also viewed the suggestion by Negeri Sembilan as subjudice as the current case involving a muallaf in the state, namely Deepa Subramaniam vs Izwan Abdullah, was still being heard at the Federal Court. ABIM at the same time, welcomed efforts by all parties in seeking a resolution to the issue and clarify any inter-religious issues arising in society. However, any effort and suggestion must be implemented based on expert advice covering all fields specifically in religion and law.
Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, Secretary General, Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM)