After Zarena Abdul Majid was arrested at her own wedding for marrying a non-Muslim, the government of the Malaysian state of Selangor has ordered Jais, the state’s Islamic authority, to help Majid change her religious status from Muslim to Hindu on June 4th. Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim also said that the Jais officers, who violated the standard practice of a raid during Majid’s wedding, would be penalized.
“She (Zarena) can change her name to whatever name she wants. She has never been a practicing Muslim. The state has ordered Jais to assist her in resolving the matter,” said Ibrahim.
He clarified how the raid carried out by Jais had embarrassed the government.
“According to Jais, it was not a raid. According to the press, it was a raid. According to us it is an embarrassment… A wedding is supposed to be a great occasion. They shouldn’t have spoiled the wedding,” Ibrahim asserted.
32-year-old Majid was detained in the midst of her wedding on June 1 by Jais on grounds that she is a Muslim and Islam forbids its adherents to marry non-Muslims. Majid clarified that her Muslim-convert father had forcefully converted her and her siblings to Islam when they were children but they continued to practice Hinduism after their parents divorced and their father abandoned the family 20 years ago.
Jais deputy director Ahmad Zaki Arshad is believed to have said that Majid will be investigated under Section 10 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment (Selangor) 1995, for insulting or bringing disrepute to Islam. He however, denied those claims later saying it was a routine raid carried out because of public pressure.
Right after Majid’s arrest, Center for Better Tomorrow reminded Jais that Malays may be constitutionally defined as Muslims and may not be allowed to embrace other faiths, but no such restriction applies to non-Muslim converts.
“Non-Malay Muslim converts in the country should be allowed to embrace a religion of their choice, just as they had freely embraced Islam earlier… It is acknowledged that Malays are constitutionally defined. The Malay identity includes being a Muslim… For a Muslim Malay to renounce the Islamic faith amounts to forsaking its own constitutional identity. However, such constitutional definition of ethnic identity does not apply to Non-Malay Muslim converts,” said Gan Ping Sieu, co-president, Center for Better Tomorrow.
Even though there are not as many cases where people want to revert from Islam to other religions in Selangor, the few cases that are publicized have apparently managed to strain the racial and religious relations in the country.
“Jais needs to get views from the Menteri Besar and the state executive councilors in matters pertaining to religion and race,” Ibrahim asserted.
Photo Credit: The Malaysian Insider