By : V. Vasudevan
NST April 23 2009
The Cabinet has decided that if a spouse were to convert to Islam, the
children will follow the faith that the parents had agreed on at the
time of marriage. The Cabinet also decided that the civil courts are
the right place to dissolve a marriage in the event of a spouse
converting to Islam.
The Cabinet also directed the Attorney-General to review and propose
changes to the law to prevent any future complications to the family
unit that may arise when a spouse convert to Islam.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said
the Cabinet made the decision at its meeting yesterday , following the
controversy in Perak when K. Pathmanathan, 40 converted to Islam and
changed his name to Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah. He also converted their
their children without informing her. He used the children’s birth
certificate to get them converted on April 2.
Muhammad Ridzuan has been trying to take custody of two of the children
- Karan Dinish, 11 and Tevi Darsiny, 12 - from their mother. He already
has custody of a third child, baby, Prasana Diksa. His wife, M. Indira
Ghandi has since then been seeking a solution to the problem.
Cabinet feels there is an implied and constructive contract between
husband and wife that their children should be brought up in accordance
to the common religion at the time of marriage or whatever religion
they had agreed their offspring should practice,” he said.
Nazri said in the case of Indira Ghandhi, both she and her
husband were Hindus at time of marriage, so it was implied that their
children be brought up as Hindus.
said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Maj-Gen (R) Datuk
Jamil Khir Baharom, who is in charge of Islamic affairs, has been
instructed to meet with Muhammd Ridzuan to settle the case amicably.
will also meet with the relevant authorities (like the Perak Islamic
Affairs Department) to settle this in accordance with the cabinet
Nazri said the Cabinet was of the view that
conversion came with responsibility and cited two reasons - the first
is to protect the innocent party from being treated unfairly and
victimised and the second is to protect the new religion of the person
who converted to the new faith or in this case, Islam.
should not be used as a tool to allow a party to a marriage to run away
from his or her responsibility as husband or wife, he said.
“I do not think any religion would want it to be used as a convenient tool to run away from responsibility," he said.
said the question of the children’s custody in Indira Ghandi’s case
does not arise at this juncture as the marriage has yet to be dissolved.
marriage followed civil laws and the Cabinet stand by the principle
that a civil marriage should be dissolved in a manner provided for by
“Conversion to another religion is not a ground for automatic dissolution of a civil marriage.”
Nazri noted that the couple were separated at the point when Pahtmanathan converted to Islam.
Cabinet has agreed that the relevant date for application of Islamic
laws should be on the date of conversion and it is not retrospective.
acts should be resolved under the relevant civil laws. Islamic laws
apply on the day of his conversion. He must resolve all his problems
first and he should come clean as to his responsibilities before he
converts to any other religions.
Nazri said to give effect to
its decision, the Cabinet has instructed the Attorney General to look
at the relevant laws which need to be amended.
laws or any other laws to be amended. If it affect Islamic enactment it
will be brought to the Sultan’s attention.” he said.