Thursday, May 8, 2008

No proper councelling

A religious court in Malaysia has allowed a Muslim convert to leave the Islamic faith.

The arguments used are quite interesting. If only more religous judges in the Arab World would follow this wisdom! Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah was free to return to Buddhism, following the collapse of her marriage to a Muslim man. It was decided she had not had 'proper counselling' during her conversion.

Malaysians are rarely allowed to renounce the faith - those who do can be prosecuted under stringent laws. Religious rights are a sensitive issue in Malaysia - which is 60% Muslim.

Ms Siti, an ethnic Chinese, converted to Islam when she married an Iranian Muslim man.
When their marriage collapsed, she filed a case with the Penang court asking to be allowed to revert to being a Buddhist.

The judge found in her favour, saying it was clear she had never practised Islam after her conversion and continued to pray as a Buddhist. 'The court has no choice but to declare that Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah is no longer a Muslim as she has never practised the teachings of Islam," said Judge Othman Ibrahim. He instead blamed the state Islamic council for not fulfilling its responsibility of counselling and guiding new converts.

I like that term 'proper counselling'. How many converts to Islam had proper counselling? If the family of some Muslims in Jordan converted three generation ago to Islam, did they have 'proper counselling'? Should their families, three generations later, be allowed to return to their Christian faith because they were never 'properly counselled' and because they never actually 'practiced' Islam?

Let us hope and pray for more freedom for all Muslims to change their religion., with or without proper counselling, and irrespective of whether they ever practiced their religion or not.

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