Sunday, July 28, 2013

One parent enough to convert kids, says Islamic Affairs Dept

The state Islamic Affairs Department needs only the consent of one parent who has embraced Islam to convert the children to the faith, state director Datuk Johani Hassan said.

This was clearly spelt out under the laws for those who wished to embrace Islam, he said, adding that such laws were in force in several states.

“The law does not say that we need the consent of both parents before we can convert their children.

“When one parent embraces Islam, the children can be automatically converted,” he said.

The Government, however, had announced in April 2009 that children of an estranged couple should be raised in the religion of the parents at the time when they were still married.

The announcement was made by the then de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

Johani was responding yesterday to a claim by a 29-year-old Hindu mother that her estranged husband had converted their two children, aged five and eight, without her knowledge in April.

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The self-employed woman, who got married in 2004, claimed that she had no knowledge that her 30-year-old husband had embraced Islam after he allegedly abandoned the family early last year.

The woman from Jelebu also accused her spouse of not providing for the family.

She lodged a police report after her pleas to officers at the Islamic Affairs Department not to convert her two children went unheeded.

Johani explained that the department could not “reverse” the decision and that the mother would have to go to the Syariah Court to do so.

National MIC information chief Datuk V.S. Mogan said the department should consider the views of both parents before allowing such a conversion since it could adversely impact the family.

The woman and her estranged husband were still married under the civil law, he added.

“The husband should have legally divorced her so that she could seek custody of the children,” he said.

State PPP chief Datuk T. Raju said it was unfortunate that the two children were converted without the mother’s knowledge.

“The department officials should have done a background check and studied the case before deciding based solely on the father’s application,” he said.

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