PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA: Islam will not discriminate against any race or religion even if the common law and the Syariah courts are to merge as suggested by a former Chief Justice.
Syariah Court Judge and Syariah Judicial Department director-general Datuk Ibrahim Lembut said such fears among non-Muslims were unwarranted.
“Islam will defend everybody. The impression that merging the two court systems will override the rights of the non-Muslims is wrong,” he said.
It’s just a question of what your rights actually are.
“Syariah laws and Islam will think of every religion and race,” he told reporters after attending the International Seminar on Comparative Law at Marriott Hotel here yesterday.
“However, we still have a long way to go before we can merge the two court systems although we have held talks between civil and Syariah lawyers on the possibility of harmonising the laws,” he said, adding that Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had also given his views on the matter during the meeting.
Ibrahim said some civil lawyers attending such talks had refused to even consider harmonising the laws between the two systems.
He was commenting on a statement by MCA legal bureau chairman Datuk Leong Tang Chong that any merger would subject non-Muslims to Syariah jurisdiction on all legal matters, including inter-faith cases relating to marriage and divorce.
On Nov 6, retired Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad said he foresaw that the combination of the two courts would harmonise common law and Syariah law principles in dealing with issues of conflicting laws and jurisdiction during his lecture at the Harvard Law School in the United States.
Earlier, Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi, in his speech, had said that the concept of comparative laws was important in the Malaysian context.
This was because Islamic law was important as its presence had become increasingly significant in a dual legal system and that the judiciary would find a midway solution to satisfy both the civil and Syariah legal systems, he said.
“We will try not to cause conflict and will find an amicable understanding,” he said.