It’s not a question about whether Syariah Court is fair or otherwise

 When the Non-Muslims choose the Civil court over the Syariah court, it’s about their rights. They were not questioning whether the Syariah court is fair or otherwise. It’s unfair to disallow the Non-Muslims of their rights to refer their cases to the Civil court. No one should deny that the Civil court has a different set of laws from the Syariah court, and the non-Muslims were more comfortable with the Civil court.The so-called Islam experts have got it all wrong. Please rethink, our brothers and sisters of the Islam faith.

the Sun has the story…

Islamic experts tell non-Muslims not to be prejudiced against syariah courts
Husna Yusop
 

PETALING JAYA (March 22, 2007): Islamic experts said non-Muslims should not be prejudiced against syariah courts, as Islam is a religion which assures justice for all.

They said non-Muslims should not be worried about appearing before the syariah court to resolve matters concerning Muslims or Islam, as it is not given that the court will side with the Muslim party.

These are the views of two  state muftis and a syariah court lawyer, who  practises civil and criminal law. They said that if the civil court had decided for a non-Muslim to seek justice at the syariah court, he or she should do so without any fear or prejudice.

They were referring to the Court of Appeal decision last week to dismiss the appeal by R. Subashini, a Hindu, to stop her Muslim-convert husband, Muhammad Shafi Saravanan Abdullah, from going to the syariah court to dissolve their marriage and convert their children.

In the majority decision by a panel of three judges, Subashini was told to seek recourse through the

Syariah Appeal Court

.

The Bar Council and several non-governmental organisations have said this was unconstitutional as the syariah court only has jurisdiction over Muslims.

Terengganu mufti Datuk Ismail Yahya said: “We know non-Muslims are worried that the syariah court will always side with the Muslims but do not fear, there is still hope that non-Muslims could win the case.”

He said just like the procedures in the civil court, the syariah court’s judgment would be made based on the facts presented.

Ismail also said there were situations that could allow the children to be placed under the custody of their mother although she was not Muslim.

“The syariah court will decide in the best interest of the children, based on their welfare. If the non-Muslim mother is more fit to take care of them, the court will give her the custody,” he said.

Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin noted that during the time of Saidina Ali, one of the early Muslim caliphs, a Jew had won a case against Ali in an Islamic court.

He said the prejudice against the syariah court stemmed from two reasons – non-Muslims do not understand that Islam promises justice for all, and the syariah courts themselves sometimes fail to reflect the level of professio­nalism required by Islam.

Syariah Lawyers Association adviser Muhammad Burok described the Court of Appeal’s decision as a recognition for the syariah court.

Commenting on the argument that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law passed after indepen­dence which is inconsistent with the constitution shall be void, he said:

“Syariah law is not a written law as it is based on Allah’s revelation. Obviously, it did not come after indepen­dence. That is how I see it. But, in
Malaysia, it becomes a problem because the syariah law is written.”

When it was pointed out that this may not be acceptable to non-Muslims, Muhammad said: “They have to learn to accept it.”

He invited non-Muslims to learn to accept the syariah law, saying if Muslims can go to the civil court, there was no reason why non-Muslims cannot go to the syariah court.

Ismail, on the other hand, cited Article 121 (1A) of the constitution, which states that the civil court has no jurisdiction in matters within the syariah court’s jurisdiction.

Mohd Asri said the argument of whether it was unconstitutional or not was a matter of interpretation.

He said to him, being a Muslim, the syariah law was the supreme law as it was based on the Quran.

In Subashini’s case, although the marriage was a civil contract, Islam would still recognise it because the couple were non-Muslims at that time.

“Islam does not require a couple who have converted to Islam to repeat their marriage procedure in the Islamic way. Islam does not consider their children as illegitimate. Islam recognises their marriage,” he said.

“All courts deliver justice, more so the syariah court. All lawyers and judges must hold on to this fact,” Muhammad added.

 

 

Civil laws for civil marriages only suggests MP

Pauline Pua


KUALA LUMPUR (March 22, 2007): Registered civil marriages should be mitigated by civil laws only, says Wong Nai Chee (BN-Kota Melaka).

“Couples have been given the choice to register their marriages under civil laws or syariah laws. If you have chosen to register under civil laws, then you should be answerable under the civil laws when one party converts,” he said in his debate on the Royal Address in Parliament today.

He said there was a “loophole” in the system when one half of a couple who married under the civil laws converted to become a Muslim, the other half is left without legal recourse.

“Although (if one) has converted as a Muslim, you should carry out your obligation to your wife and children under civil laws,” he said.

The debate on the jurisdiction of syariah and civil courts were highlighted again when the Court of Appeal on March 13 dismissed non-Muslim R. Subashini’s appeal to stop her Muslim-convert husband – Muhammad Shafi Saravanan Abdullah – from going to
the syariah court to dissolve their civil marriage and convert their children to Islam without her permission.

Wong suggested amending Article 12 (4) which stipulates that “a person under the age of 18, the religion or faith should be decided by his guardian or parent”.

“Although Schedule 11 says that “parent” refers to singular and plural, but the courts have not been using it anymore. So let’s just amend the word ‘parent’ to parents’,” said Wong, a lawyer.

Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad (BN-Ketereh) said the perception that syariah courts is only for Muslims should be changed while Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) said the question of non-Muslims not having remedy in syariah court should not arise.

Wong stressed he did not question which laws were fairer but “the option one chooses to seek judicial redress”.

“I don’t question whether syariah court is just or not. What I said was the options they have. If they have already chosen a particular system, they should not be asked to go to another system as it involved two totally different laws,” he added.

Earlier, Wong also urged the government to set up a special select committee to study the state of press freedom in the country.

He said a select committee should be set up to study how to rationalise laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act, the Official Secret Act (OSA) and the Internal Security Act (ISA).

“These laws are overlapping hopelessly and curbing press freedom and causing undue self-censorship. Media should play a check and balance role in a democratic country,” he said, adding that the provision requesting the press to renew licence annually should
also be scrapped.

Wong said a “Right to Information Act” should be drafted so the public will have access to public interest information.

“Only information relating to defence and security, cabinet and state committee meetings should be made secrets. Other documents like environment impact assess reports and toll agreements should be made public,” he added.

One Response to “It’s not a question about whether Syariah Court is fair or otherwise”

  1. Hassan Senawi Says:

    What a shame to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development!

    This the very Ministry which is supposed to be sensitive to what happens to Malaysian Women and Family. It has a huge responsibility towards Malaysian Children. Wonder what happened to the Integrity and Honesty of our beautiful Parliament! It’s really very quiet and silent apart from some MPs voicing it out.

    I am referring to the Subashini’s case.
    Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the civil court’s decision in the Subashini case must stand, adding that it didn’t matter which court such cases were heard in so long as justice is served.
    This statement is a clear reflection of how much the honorable minister knows about the cross-culture and inter-religious reality especially for Women, Children and Family as a whole in Malaysia. I am humbly inviting Sharizat to use some sincerity and study carefully her very own statement: “it didn’t matter which court such cases were heard in so long as justice is served”
    My question: Assuming Sharizat’s daughter or son is involved in a legal matter and he or she is asked to go to a tribal African court which practices pagan teachings. How will Sahrizat feel? The tribal African court is also believed to dispense justice according to “the perception and belief system” of tribal pagan religious teachings. Will it matter now for the honorable Minister Sharizat??
    I have faith in the Malaysian Parliament as a whole. There are still many Minister who have a high mental maturity and they use their God given conscience to make important decisions.
    At the same time there are some Ministers who are just hanging on to their positions may be for reasons only they will know. Well you might have your own selfish reasons for holding on to your political positions but please I humbly request you spent a little of your precious time on learning about the real sufferings of Women, Children and Family.
    Please spend just a few minutes …..All I am asking is just a few minutes with your very busy schedule as a Minister to see with your heart what is really happening to Women, Children and Family especially when they are faced with a legal battle which involves religion and culture. PLEASE THINK AS A MINISTER FOR A WHILE AND NOT AS A MUSLIM (I understand it might be very challenging for you to do!!). Just by doing this you might find the truth. You might just understand and realize why the non- Muslim community is troubled by cases such as Subashini’s case.

    Another interesting thing to observe is the statement by Syariah Lawyers Association: “non-Muslims must learn to accept syariah law as the civil court had already decided on the matter”
    This statement is not only arrogant but comes from people with very low mental maturity.
    Question: How did they become Syariah Lawyers when they know so little about true Islamic teachings and the thoughts of the Prophet Mohammad in the Hadiths?? What a shame!

    Honorable Judge Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar quoted the Quranic verses and appeared elevate the role of Islamic Law in Malaysia.
    Question: How did Suriyadi become a Judge in a Judiciary which upholds and respects the Malaysian Constitution?? Is he qualified to even sit in the bench to handle legal matters such as Subashini’s case? He has shamed the whole Judiciary by thinking and deciding like a Muslim when handling Subashini’s matter. An honorable Judge should only think, act and behave like a Judge! An honorable Judge, who thinks, acts and behaves like a Hindu, Christian or Muslim should find work elsewhere. A Judiciary is an honorable place not a political arena to abuse your power and show solidarity towards your religion be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam. This is not only a reflection of degrading mental maturity among some Judges but also a clear view of the extend of racial, cultural and religious extremism that exists in the Malaysian Judiciary.
    I am inviting educated Malaysians to please wake up and team up and voice up. At the same time let us pray to the Almighty God to get rid of the unwanted undesirable weeds in our Judiciary as well as the Parliament.
    Thank you.

    Shining like a bright star

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