Ahmadiyya Sect’s Faith in Question in Malaysia

On March 19th, the High Court in Malaysia will decide whether the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam is legally considered Muslim or otherwise. This will be a key development, as thus far, Pakistan is the only nation to have officially declared “Ahmadis” to be non-Muslims.

A three-member Court of Appeals bench chaired by Badariah Sahamid sent the case back on August 27th, ordering the High Court to ascertain the individuals' religious beliefs.

Badariah, who heard the appeals from the Selangor government and the religious authorities, said the information provided on identity cards regarding Malaysians' spiritual status was not conclusive proof of their faith.

Badariah, who has since retired, said the Selangor shariah court had no jurisdiction over them if they were Ahmadiyya by authentic faith. She said that, should it be proven that they were following the faith after apostasizing from Islam, the religious court had authority over them.

According to Malaysia's news source, Free Malaysia Today (FMT), the judge, Vazeer Alam Mydin Meer, set the date post his meeting with parties in his chambers for case management, as advised by attorney Hasnan Hamzah. Hamzah also reported to FMT that the judge asked all parties to file further affidavits, if required, by January 25th.

Attorney Hasnan served as legal counsel to the Selangor Shariah chief enforcement and prosecution officer, Muhammad Haziq Hashim, who appeared before the Selangor government and Selangor Islamic Religious Department (known by the Malaysian acronym “JAIS”). Attorney Michael Cheah was legal counsel for the individuals.

Going back to July 6th, 2018, Vazeer ruled that the Selangor shariah court had no right to interfere with the religious activities in the Ahmadiyya community.  Muslims from larger sects, such as Sunnism, generally regard Ahmadis as non-Muslims, apostates, or heretics.
The judge also ruled that JAIS does not have the legal authority to bring charges against members of the sect for violating a state fatwa against Ahmadiyya teachings.

The group, including 20 Malaysians, eight Pakistani asylum seekers, two Indian nationals, and an Indonesian — who performed Friday prayers on April 11th, 2014, at the community center in Batu Caves, Selangor —  challenged JAIS.  They concluded that Islamic authorities in Selangor do not recognize Ahmadiyya as Muslims; therefore, JAIS has no basis for charging them with shariah offenses.

JAIS told the group that, contrary to Section 97 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003, they failed to obtain written permission to use the premises – a shop lot at Dolomite Park, Batu Caves. They claim the group should only be authorized to utilize the community center in Selangor for purposes on, in, or by a mosque.

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