Your national I/C has no jurisdiction over your faith


Your national I/C has no jurisdiction over your faith
By Zan Azlee

There is no compulsion in Islam. This phrase comes from Surah Al-Baqarah of the Quran (it really reads “There is no compulsion in the acceptance of the religion.”).

You see, when you believe in a religion or any faith, you need to do so wholeheartedly to make it count. And in Islam’s case, you utter it externally and also believe it in your heart.

And the only person who really knows if you are true would be yourself. Of course God would definitely know too if you’re a fraud, but he isn’t a person.

This brings me to a case which I just read about in the newspapers regarding a Bidayuh man in Sarawak who got the courts to grant him to change his religion from Islam to Christian.

If you follow how Malaysia treats these kind of cases in the past, then you would be very familiar with how ridiculous things can actually get.

There was the case of Lina Joy, the Muslim woman who converted to Christianity in 1990 and applied to have the word ‘Islam’ removed from her national identification card.

Of course she received death threats and eventually went into hiding. And the Federal Court never granted her request because, apparently it does not fall under their jurisdiction.

Since it concerns the religion of Islam, they claimed that it falls under the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. And they definitely were not going to acknowledge an apostate!

So this is weird because according to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, every individual is guaranteed the right to freedom of religion. So how then?

And even if we’re not talking about civil courts, if there is no compulsion in the acceptance of the religion, how can any court force someone to be a certain religion?

For someone to be a believer, he or she needs to do so wholeheartedly as I have mentioned earlier. And for the courts to compel someone, well, that just negates the entire concept faith.

And I wonder, if the courts enforces that the word ‘Islam’ remains on Lina Joy’s national identification card even if she has renounced the religion, would it still count?

Now, allow me to go back to the case of the Bidayuh man, Azmi Mohamad Azam @ Roneey, in Sarawak.

His parents had converted to Islam from Christianity when he was an eight year old boy and he was converted by virtue of his parents doing so since he is a minor.

But now that he is an adult, he is 41 years old this year, according to the Federal Constitution, he would be free to exercise his right of freedom to religion. And he chooses Christianity.

Of course, thing were made difficult for him such as requiring him to get a letter of release and order from the Syariah Court and what not.

But eventually the High Court made a decision on his judicial review. The judge, Datuk Yew Jen Kie, ordered that his religion in the national identity card be changed from Islam to Christian.

I’m a Muslim and I believe in my faith. Hence, I also believe that there is no compulsion in Islam. We need to respect and accept those who make their own decisions.

There is another quote from the Quran, this time from Surah Al-Kafirun, which states that “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”

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