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COMMENT | Islam and the state - individual freedoms or imposition of rules?

COMMENT | On Friday, Feb 5, 2021, it was reported that a Malaysian woman won an appeal at the Federal Court to assert her identity as being not a Muslim. The circumstances were that she was born to a Muslim father and a Buddhist mother, but they weren’t married, and she had shown evidence that she was not born and raised as a Muslim.

It took this woman six years of her life to assert the status that she was born into and raised in, and she finally achieved that at the age of 39. That is six years of her life that she will never get back. And who knows what experiences she had before she embarked on that legal challenge.

Among the means and ways that she had to prove her status, she showed that the Islamic religious authorities in 11 states and the Federal Territories do not have any documents of her mother’s conversion to Islam nor her biological parents’ Muslim marriage. Additionally, she had her late mother’s statutory declaration, that she was not married to the biological father when she gave birth to her daughter.

There are many legal considerations to be discussed here but for now, let’s home in on the reality that we know of Malaysia when it comes to Islam...

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