Friday, 5 July 2013

Unilateral conversion of minors (to Islam) issue in Malaysia -June/July 2013 | A note from a non-Muslim in Malaysia to the Muslims inMalaysia, with much love.

I have refrained from typing out anything long for this issue because legally, the analysis from both the Malaysian Bar Council and PPMM (Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia) can be read and understood by anyone with a reasonable intelligence who puts in the time and effort. Hint: Look out for the term "obiter dicta". 

[Links to statements made by the Bar Council and PPMM]

I refrained also because I did not want to repeat the usual, "It's NOT FAIR to the non-converting non-Muslim parent," line because that is obvious. No point I add to the noise. 

But this morning, a good way to EXPLAIN this to my Muslim friends, and Muslims in Malaysia generally (who support the proposition that unilateral conversion of a minor to Islam is alright), from my point of view, that of a Malaysian Chinese Christian, dawned upon me. So this is my attempt at it.

A bit of background (And this is all true. Please do not think I am making up this story for it to be a morality tale. I don't do stuff like that): I started attending Sunday School at church at the age of 8. I went for confirmation at 15. I was active in the youth groups at church and at school. After secondary school, I began to question my faith, and Christianity, in general. I stopped going to church - purposefully and consciously. (I did still attend the cell group meetings once in awhile, but my heart was cold.)

During the time away from church, I considered other religions and atheism. The one religion/faith that I was very wary of approaching was Islam because in Malaysia, once you're in, you can never get out without serious upheavals to your life. So there was always a big "CAUTION" sign in my head whenever Islam came up for consideration. But I did happily learn many things (and this is continuing) about it. 

Long story short; after a few years, I made a decision that whatever problems I had with the church and the faith, I really did believe in the core of Christianity in my head and in my heart of hearts. (I still don't attend church regularly, but that's another story). What I did get during my years of 'wondering' was an appreciation of the different perspective different religions/faiths have on life. And for that I am very grateful.

With that background, I hope you (my Muslim reader/friend) will appreciate the seriousness I have, and hurt I feel, when I say this: I have known a few Muslims throughout the years from the time I left church up till now whose CONDUCT in life made me SO ATTRACTED to Islam that the thought that Islam is true did more than just cross my mind. They were, and are, shining examples of the faith. The beauty of Islam shines through them.

But, during that same time, the WAY some Muslims have talked/acted, for example, during the "Allah" issue, and this "unilateral conversion of minors to Islam is alright" issue, leave me in no doubt that Islam is definitely not for me. 

I need to say it like this so that you can understand what your vehement defence of the position that "unilateral conversion of minors to Islam is alright" looks from my point of view, and I dare say, from the point of view of most non-Muslims in Malaysia. The beauty and JUSTICE of Islam is the last thing that comes to mind when I hear your words defending that position.

Haughty words are not endearing. They do not win converts.

I think I can stop here. I believe you, as a Muslim, understand fully the point that I am making.

I wish you well. 
I wish you peace. 

Jason Kay
04 July 2013

P.S. If you are wondering - Yes, I do have an answer of what would be fair in this situation: Let the child be exposed to both the original religion(s) of the parents, and Islam (since one parent has converted), and let the child choose his/her religion upon reaching majority. That would remove all arguments/heartaches/drama in the interim. As to the hypothetical situation of the child dying without believing the "right" religion, my simple na├»ve answer is this: Only God knows/decides who goes to heaven and hell.

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