Sharia Conundrum from modern, moderate Malaysia: ethnic Malays are deemed to be Muslim from birth, but what about a Chinese man who was switched at birth? Was he born Muslim? Can the modern, moderate Malaysian state possibly survive his conversion to Buddhism?
From Reuters, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A Malaysian Muslim man switched at birth in a hospital mix-up wants to change his name after being reunited with his ethnic-Chinese biological family and become a Buddhist….
Sales executive Zulhaidi Omar, 29, was raised in an ethnic Malay family, and discovered his true origins only after a Chinese woman at a supermarket where he worked noticed his features were similar to those of her father, newspapers said.
“The girl who was always looking at me was actually my elder sister who suspected that I was her brother because of my striking resemblance to our father,” the Star newspaper quoted Zulhaidi as telling reporters.
Three visits by the girl and her parents convinced him to take a DNA test that confirmed the ties, he added.
Zulhaidi, who unwittingly spent 20 years just a few miles from his real family, now lives with them in Batu Pahat in southern Johor state. But it took him six months before he began to call his parents “Mum” and “Dad”….
The other changeling, Tian Fa, 29, was brought up by the Teos, married a Chinese woman, and has no intention of seeking out his biological parents, the Star said.
Now Zulhaidi wants to renounce Islam and take a Chinese name.
Whether Muslims can convert to another faith is a tricky legal question in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion, although freedom of worship is a constitutional right.
Ethnic Malays are deemed to be Muslim from birth, but the country’s highest civil court has yet to rule on whether they have the right to convert to another religion.