He wants to leave Islam in order to marry his Hindu girlfriend. That’s his business, and only his business — or at least it should be that way. Because of the strictures of Islamic law, however, he is entangled in legal difficulty, because Islamic law forbids Muslims to leave Islam, and even in “moderate” Indonesia, that makes conversion to another faith nigh impossible, or wrapped in miles of red tape.
“Man seeks court’s help to renounce Islam to marry Hindu girlfriend,” by V. Anbalagan, The Malaysian Insider, February 18, 2016 (thanks to David):
A food caterer is seeking help from the Federal Court to compel the National Registration Department to remove Islam as his religion and his Muslim name from his identity card, so that he can get married to a non-Muslim.
Mohd Shariff Abdullah (Mahendran), 35, has filed three legal questions to obtain leave from the apex court to have merit of the case heard.
Lawyer Robin Lim, however, said the legal questions cannot be revealed until the court makes a ruling whether to allow Shariff’s leave application.
Shariff’s case is similar to that of Lina Joy’s which went before the Federal Court in 2007.
Lina, a Malay-Muslim, wanted to embrace Christianity to marry her boyfriend, but NRD insisted she produce a conversion (out) certificate from the Shariah court, which she did not possess.
Her lawyers had argued that the department need only consider the baptism certificate from the church to facilitate the change in name and religion.
In a majority verdict, the Federal Court rejected her appeal and ruled that “a person who wanted to renounce his/her religion must do so according to existing laws or practices of the particular religion”.
Lawyer S. Nithiyawathi, who appeared with Lim, said Shariff was still a bachelor and could not marry a Hindu woman until his religious status was resolved.
On October 30 last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal, as well as that of his step-brothers, Mohd Jefrey Mohd Baser, 32, Mohd Jass, 28, Mohd Naser, 22 and their mother, Jamilah Jan Vasanthegokelam, 56.
A three-man bench, chaired by Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh, ruled that evidence on record revealed that NRD’s decision to retain the religon and Muslim names was correct in law.
“It cannot be categorised as unreasonable, perverse and illegal for us to interfere,” Zawawi said of the unanimous ruling.
Lim said with the exception of Shariff, all others have decided against appealing the Court of Appeal ruling.
In 2013, the mother and the siblings filed a judicial review in the High Court and named NRD and the Home Ministry as respondents.
Jamilah wanted to be identified only as Vasanthegokelam, Shariff as Mahendran, Jefrey as Saiprasad Pillai, Jass as Jagath Kishore Pillai and Naser as Yuthesh Pillai.
Facts revealed that Shariff was born to father, S. Ghanasan, and Vasanthegokelam who were Hindus.
The mother in 1982 remarried a Muslim, Mohd Baser a/l Kalakan, and they have three children, Mohd Jefrey, Mohd Jass and Mohd Naser.
The appellate court was told that the mother went to NRD in 1983 to change her name from Vasanthegokelam to Jamilah Jan.
She returned to the department in 1985 to replace her identity card, using the same name.
In early 2013, she came to the department to remove her name and the word “Islam” in the identity card, but was refused unless she produced a conversion certificate from the religious authorities.
The court was also told there was evidence that Jamilah and the children converted to Islam and practised the faith after she had married Baser.
Lim, however, said there were no records of their conversion to Islam.
He said Jamilah did not produce any conversion certificate to the department in order to be classified as Muslim in her identity card.
Lim said Shariff was converted to Islam and given a Muslim name when an application for his identity card was made.