By Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 – PAS leaders broke their silence on the religious conversion issue today and attacked the cabinet’s recent decision for betraying Islam as the controversy continued to divide Malaysians.
Conservative Muslim groups have already condemned the government for decided on its own that children should be raised in the faith of their parents while they were married even if one spouse becomes a Muslim.
A number of PAS leaders joined in the chorus of dispproval, saying the cabinet should have consulted with various Islamic institution like the Conference of Rulers, the country’s supreme authority on Islamic matters, and the Muslim Lawyers Association before making such a decision.
The cabinet announced its decision recently in a bid to resolve the custodial issue surrounding Indira Ghandi, a Hindu, and her ex-husband who had converted to Islam.
Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, Mahfuz Omar, a PAS parliamentarian, said the government in making appeared to have bypassed and disrespected the country’s rulers and Islam in general.
“By making such a decision without having first consulted the Conference of Rulers, the BN government has shown no respect towards the country’s rulers. They are the country’s supreme authority in Islamic matters.
“This means they have directly ignored the role of the country’s rulers. They are the ‘penderhaka’ (traitor) and by doing so, they have betrayed Islam and the Muslim community of this country,” he said.
Mahfuz added that the government had also handled the matter hypocritically.
“In the past, they have repeatedly said that whatever the problem is, we can solve it trough the proper channel which is the courts. But here we have the government totally ignoring the decision of the court.”
When asked if he thought it was right for the Syariah court to decide, without consent, that the children of Indira should be converted to Muslims now that their father had done so, Mahfuz said he believes that the capability of the Syariah court to be just in the matter should not be questioned.
“I believe the Syariah court is and has been capable of handling such matters justly,” he said and added that he also believes that the parents should have the right to decide on the religion of their children.
Mahfuz’ argument is backed by a fellow PAS leader, Khalid Samad, who said the decision made by the government had disrespected the country’s judiciary system.
Khalid who is MP for Shah Alam said the government had denied the judiciary its innate authority by overturning the decision of the court which had ‘legally’ converted Indira’s children to Muslims.
He also said that such ‘automatic’ decisions would not help solve the conversion problem and urged the government to seek a way to provide a more just solution for all the parties involved in the matter.
“No automatic decision (as made by the government) should be acted upon without detailed discussion on the problem first.
“The children must be given the access to both views and they should be given the right to decide on which faith they wish to follow,” he said.
Both the Syariah and civil courts must be able to deliver justice to all the parties involved, added Khalid, who believes that the two channels are the best avenue to solve such problems.