RESTORING INTER-RELIGIOUS HARMONY

Media Statement


The proposals made by the Malaysian Cabinet pertaining to conversion, the religion of a child one of
whose parents has converted to another religion, and the responsibilities that a convert will have to
fulfil in relation to his or her spouse and children, should be welcomed by all Malaysians.

These proposals will help to improve inter-religious ties in the country. In the last few years a
number of episodes related to conversion and the responsibilities of a convert towards his non-
Muslim spouse and family have had a negative impact upon our multi-religious fabric. By allowing
these controversies to drag on and on, without providing any solutions, the authorities had indirectly
aggravated inter-religious antagonisms.

Equally important, the Cabinet proposals project the essence of Islam with its strong commitment to
justice and fair play. It is wrong of a person who converts to Islam to abdicate his responsibility to
his non-Muslim spouse and children. Neither should he coax or coerce his young children to become
Muslims. It is only right that they remain in the religion of their parents at the time of the parents’
marriage until they attain maturity at which point they can decide for themselves on the religion they
want to embrace.

It is hoped that these sane and sensible proposals will be supported by the State Muftis and other
religious authorities. Given the right advice by their Muftis, the Rulers as Heads of Islam in their
respective states will undoubtedly endorse these proposals which are fundamental for enhancing
inter-religious ties. Political party leaders should also rise above partisan politics and power play and
eschew narrow interpretations of Islamic law. They should appreciate the larger significance of these
proposals for the dignity of Islam and the honour of the Muslim community in Malaysia.
———————————————————————————-
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.
President,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
Petaling Jaya.
Malaysia.
24 April 2009.

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