[Updated] Some States Allow For The Renunciation Of Islam

[15 November 2012 Update: Kindly note the Addendum in the Comment section below (regarding Johore’s Enactment) posted by Edmund Bon on 13 November 2012. The Addendum is to be read with this post.]

State Islamic laws of Perlis, Selangor, Perak, Penang, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan and Johore expressly provide that the relevant State authorities may declare individuals as having renounced the religion and therefore no longer Muslims.

One should distinguish between what the Islamic law in some States is from what it ought to be. This post is about the former, not the latter.

In Perlis, Selangor, Perak, Penang, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan, the relevant State laws provide that the Syariah High Court shall in its civil jurisdiction, hear and determine actions and proceedings that relate to, among others, a declaration that a person is no longer a Muslim and/or a declaration that a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death. See:

Section 61, Perlis’ Enactment No. 4/2006 (wef 1.1.2010)

Section 61, Selangor’s Enactment No. 1/2003 (wef 1.9.2003)

Section 50, Perak’s Enactment No. 4/2004 (wef 1.6.2005)

Section 61, Penang’s Enactment No. 4/2004 (wef 1.1.2006)

Section 49, Malacca’s Enactment No. 7/2002 (wef 14.6.2003)

Section 61, Negeri Sembilan’s Enactment No. 10/2003 (wef 1.3.2004)

In Johore, section 141(2), Enactment No. 14/1978 (wef 16.2.1979) is a mandatory provision wider in scope than those of the aforesaid States and reads as follows:

Whoever is aware of a Muslim person has converted out of the Islamic Religion shall forthwith report the matter to the Kadi by giving all necessary particulars and the Kadi shall announce that such person has been converted out of the Islamic Religion and shall register accordingly.

Some may argue that these State enactments overreach the State List and are inconsistent with Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. But laws stand as being in force until repealed by the legislature or annulled by the courts.

Again, this post serves only to highlight the applicable laws, not what they ought to be (or not to be), or whether the same are unconstitutional (or otherwise).

In essence therefore, at least seven States in Malaysia provide a legal avenue for individuals to renounce the religion of Islam. Based on the current laws cited above and to the extent of the same, it is not inaccurate to say that there is freedom of religion for Muslims in the country.

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Life's a sufferance. Lawyering a bore. As Edmund continues various escape techniques to be rid of Lord Bobo’s influence, he crusades with UndiMsia! movers to build strange youth love movements around the country. And so he tweets @edmundbon and practises the black magic art of advocacy at www.BONadvocates.com

Posted on 13 November 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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3 Responses to [Updated] Some States Allow For The Renunciation Of Islam

  1. Andrew

    From the Reid Commission hearings:

    Mr Lawson (Counsel for Their Highnesses the Rulers): I have gone with some care into the question of the renunciation of the Faith. On my reading of those of the Muslim Courts Enactments which I have been able to get, the situation is this that if a person who was born into the Muslim Faith makes a renunciation of that Faith then by virtue of that fact, for anything which he does afterwards or any status which he has afterwards, he is not treated any longer as being of the Muslim Faith. The renunciation has to be an attested renunciation. It is not enough to say I am not a Muslim. You can be questioned as to when you last carried out any Muslim observance. I feel reinforced in saying that this also applies to women as well as to men, but because I have in mind that there are certain specific provisions in these Enactments which deal with the particular situation of women who do things without having renounced the Muslim Faith. The matter is a very complex one and the details are very difficult and the terminology is quite different in all the Enactments which I have studied, so I am in no way an expert in this particular subject of all subjects.

    I have already mentioned this point and it would be right for me to come back to it. Their Highnesses having considered the matter are not in favour of a declaration being included in the Constitution as to the Muslim Faith being the established religion of the Federation. This is a State matter and much better left as a State matter.

  2. Pepper Lim

    Nice!

  3. Edmund Bon

    Addendum to my post above:

    1. LoyarBurokker K. Shanmuga informs me that Johore’s Enactment No. 14/1978 has been repealed by section 124 of Johore's Enactment No. 16/2003 (wef 1.4.2004). As such, section 141(2) is no longer applicable.

    2. Section 61 of Johore's Enactment No. 16/2003 contains similar provisions as those in the enactments of Perlis, Selangor, Perak, Penang, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan in that the Johore Syariah High Court shall in its civil jurisdiction, hear and determine actions and proceedings that relate to, among others, a declaration that a person is no longer a Muslim and/or a declaration that a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death.