Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil is Deputy CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Email: [email protected]

The issue of unilateral conversion of minors has once again drawn mixed reactions from non-governmental organisations, lawyers and political parties in Malaysia when the Federal Court unanimously decided in the case of M. Indira Ghandi on Jan 29 that both the parents’ consent was required when determining the faith of minors.

In Malaysia, Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution provides: “For the purposes of Clause (3), the religion of a person under the age of 18 years is designated by his or her parent or guardian”.

In this case, the Federal Court has decided that the word “parent” must be understood in the plural form, denoting both “parents”, as interpreted in Schedule Eleven of the Federal Constitution and sections 5 and 11 of the Guardianship Act 1961. This decision marked a departure from the previous Federal Court judgment in Subashini (2007) in which it defined “parent” as one of the parents. Moreover, the Federal Court in the recent Indira Ghandi case also rejected the argument put forth by some parties that the court decision in the case of Susie Teoh (1990), who voluntarily converted at age 16, had anything to do with the interpretation of the word “parent” as singular or plural.

It may be useful to refer, in this connection, to some points discussed in two policy papers of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, entitled “Conversion in Malaysia: Issues and Reform Proposals”, led by renowned Muslim scholar, Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, in 2012 and a Malay-language version entitled “Penukaran Agama Kanak-Kanak— Isu dan Cadangan” (2016 & 2017), by the present writer and Ahmad Badri Abdullah which updated and enhanced the previous versions.

Muslim jurists have held that when both parents convert to Islam, their underage children automatically become Muslims. Problems arise if one of the parties has converted to Islam and the other remains a non-Muslim, leading to an interesting jurisprudential debate. The jurists have held different opinions. The majority views in the Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools on this is largely based on whether the convert was the mother or the father. Things are more straightforward in the Maliki school, which stipulates that the child’s religion follows his father’s, and thus, if the father converts, so will the child. The argument behind this Maliki ruling is that the identity and lineage of descent is through the father. Even so, there seems to be no final and authoritative view on this matter, especially since there are no clear-cut Quran verses addressing it.

Nor have the jurists reached any consensus on whether a child can embrace any religion, including Islam.

Many are of the view that children can embrace Islam, based on the precedents of many close companions of the Prophet Muhammad who converted to Islam during their childhood. Among them were Ali Abi Talib, Zubayr al-Awwam, Abdullah ibn Umar and Asma’ Abu Bakar.

Imam Abu Hanifah and his disciple, Muhammad ibn Hassan al-Syaibani considered that children who have attained mumayyiz (prudence) can legitimately convert to Islam— or, for that matter, to opt for apostasy. However, Abu Yusuf views that the child’s decision is legitimate only when converting to Islam, and invalid in the case of apostasy. Zufar ibn Hudhayl​​, another disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah, views that a child can neither convert to Islam nor leave Islam if he has not reached puberty.

Based on the popular hadith that “Every child is born in fitrah (natural state), his parents are the ones who will determine whether the child is a Jew or Christian until he is able to accept or reject it”, there are several important points. First, it is implied that a child cannot determine his religion. Second, a child’s disposition is clear of sin and cannot be held responsible for his religious status or other religious requirements. Additionally, this hadith also mentions “parents” in the plural.

What is important in all this is that the welfare of the child should come above all else. What is happening now is that there are cases where a father or mother embraces Islam and later converts the child to Islam even before the custody decision was made by the court.

This will undoubtedly lead to further problems. Similarly, an automatic decision to keep the child in his original religion following his non-Muslim parent will also lead to future problems. For instance, when the Muslim parent gains custody and wishes to enrol the child for Islamic religious education — it is better that the determination of a child’s religion takes into account the custodianship of the child. Solving this predicament would require cooperation by all parties, especially parents, guardians and the authority to prioritise the welfare of the child.

This can be done through a mediation process which involves a third party that will facilitate both parents towards reaching a compromise regarding the religious status of their child, for the sake of the children’s welfare.

For that reason, IAIS Malaysia, in its position papers mentioned above, proposed several policy reforms relating to conversions in interfaith marriages. Among the recommendations are:

FIRST , to ensure that the issue of conversion does not come in the way of ensuring the child’s welfare and the ensuing custodial responsibilities by the disputing parents;

SECOND , to establish a special branch of judiciary with mixed jurisdiction where both Syariah and civil law judges can sit and adjudicate cases of conversion and religious identity of the child; and,

THIRD, set up a judicial committee of the Conference of Malay Rulers with a mixed composition of Muslims and non-Muslims. The former can be in the majority and female members shall be included.

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The writer is associate professor and deputy chief executive officer of International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 16 February 2018

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/336051/prioritise-childs-welfare-should-be-priority

Setiap kali pilihan raya umum (PRU), antara isu yang menjadi tumpuan ialah berapa ramai wanita akan dipilih sebagai calon parti politik untuk bertanding.

Pada PRU-13 lima tahun lalu, ada 168 calon wanita bertanding merebut 56 kerusi Parlimen dan 112 kerusi Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN), meningkat sebanyak 40 peratus berbanding 120 calon untuk kedua-dua kerusi Parlimen dan DUN pada PRU-12 lima tahun sebelumnya.

Semakin masa beredar, nampaknya kesedaran lebih wanita diberi peluang menjadi calon PRU terus meningkat. Dijangka jumlah calon wanita untuk PRU-14 akan meningkat berbanding PRU-13.

Dari pandangan Islam, apakah kedudukan wanita dalam sistem pemilihan demokrasi dan sama ada mereka dibenar menjadi pemimpin serta wakil rakyat? Sebenarnya, suara supaya wanita diberi hak kesaksamaan dalam kepemimpinan bukan perkara baharu.

Dari segi sejarah, wanita bukan sahaja ditindas di negara Arab, malah di Barat. Contohnya pada abad ke-16 hingga ke-18 Masihi, wanita di England dinafikan hak mengundi, jauh sekali bertanding sebagai calon pilihan raya.

Pada zaman Arab Jahiliah, kanak-kanak perempuan ditanam hidup-hidup kerana kepercayaan kolot bahawa wanita membawa nasib malang kepada keluarga. Wanita juga dinafikan hak dalam pewarisan, perceraian, pekerjaan dan jauh sama sekali memegang jawatan tinggi dalam kerajaan.

Perspektif ini secara jelas bercanggah dengan ajaran dalam al-Quran dengan firman Allah SWT yang bermaksud: "Wahai umat manusia! Sesungguhnya Kami telah menciptakan kamu dari lelaki dan perempuan dan Kami telah menjadikan kamu berbagai bangsa dan bersuku puak, supaya kamu berkenal-kenalan (dan beramah mesra antara satu dengan yang lain).

Sesungguhnya semulia-mulia kamu di sisi Allah ialah orang yang lebih takwanya di antara kamu (bukan yang lebih keturunan atau bangsanya). Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui lagi Maha Mendalam Pengetahuan-Nya (keadaan dan amalan kamu)." (al-Hujurat:13)

Malangnya, walaupun Islam mengiktiraf kedudukan dan hak wanita, sesetengah pihak tetap mendiskriminasi golongan itu dengan menggunakan tiket agama, sedangkan hakikatnya, ia sekadar adat dan amalan yang tidak berlandaskan agama.

Sejak abad ketiga Hijrah, banyak perbincangan mengenai kepemimpinan diperkatakan, namun ia berkisar mengenai kepemimpinan lelaki sahaja.

Hak asasi golongan Hawa

Kepemimpinan wanita disentuh sepintas lalu kerana ada ayat al-Quran yang bermaksud: "Kaum lelaki itu adalah pemimpin ke atas kaum wanita". (al-Nisa 4:34)

Tambahan pula terdapat hadis yang mengatakan wanita itu kurang pada akal, agama dan ketetapan syarak dan kewajipan wanita adalah berhijab.

Realitinya, kurang pada akal bukan bermaksud kecerdikan wanita itu rendah dan lemah berbanding lelaki yang akalnya lebih mantap, matang dan berdaya fikir, tetapi sebenarnya ketetapan syarak yang menentukan nisbah bilangan kesaksian dua wanita menyamai satu lelaki.

Kurang pada agama pula bukan bermaksud tiada wanita mukminah, solehah, warak dan bertakwa kepada Allah SWT, tetapi mempunyai makna di sebaliknya, iaitu wanita terpaksa meninggalkan solat dan puasa ketika haid dan nifas.

Prinsip hak asasi wanita adalah antara agenda utama yang diperuntukkan dalam 'Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 1979' (CEDAW). Konvensyen ini menuntut menyahkan sebarang bentuk diskriminasi ke atas wanita, terutama dalam isu penindasan hak. Malaysia tidak menerima pakai semua peruntukan CEDAW kerana tertakluk kepada hukum syarak dan norma masyarakat Timur.

Dari sudut pandangan Islam, adalah disepakati oleh seluruh ulama bahawa dalam melaksanakan solat, wanita tidak boleh menjadi imam bagi lelaki. Ini telah diterima wanita Islam kecuali dalam satu kes terpencil yang mana Aminah Wadud mengetuai solat Jumaat di Amerika Syarikat.

Adapun hukum bagi seseorang wanita menjadi ketua negara, terdapat dua pendapat dalam kalangan ulama. Majoriti berpendapat bahawa wanita tidak boleh menjadi pemimpin negara berdasarkan ayat 34 dalam surah al-Nisa, manakala minoriti percaya bahawa wanita boleh menjadi pemimpin sesebuah negara.

Sebabnya ialah ayat 34 surah al-Nisa tidak boleh difahami secara literal seperti ada yang berpendapat bahawa ayat berkenaan hanya bermaksud 'suami perlu menjaga isteri mereka'.

Wanita sebagai pemimpin

Justeru, wanita diharus bertanding pada pilihan raya untuk diangkat sebagai pemimpin negara.

Jika melihat peruntukan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang menjadi undang-undang tertinggi negara, tidak ada satu pun peruntukan melarang wanita dilantik sebagai menteri dan timbalan menteri, malah untuk jawatan Perdana Menteri sekalipun.

Hak ini termaktub dalam Perkara 8(1) yang memberi kesaksamaan dari segi undang-undang dan Perkara 8(2) bahawa tiada diskriminasi ke atas seseorang itu atas nama agama, bangsa, keturunan, tempat lahir atau jantina.

Oleh kerana wanita adalah majoriti dalam masyarakat di Malaysia, kehadiran mereka hendaklah bergerak pantas mengikut arus perdana. Terdapat lebih 70 peratus pelajar di universiti dan lebih 60 peratus pekerja di negara ini dalam kalangan wanita. Perspektif Islam mengambil pendapat harus melantik wanita sebagai pemimpin negara, selain menerusi ketetapan dalam Perkara 8 (1) dan 8 (2) Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Jika ada peningkatan jumlah wanita dicalonkan bertanding pada PRU-14 pada 9 Mei ini, ia akan menambah jumlah kerusi golongan berkenaan di Dewan Rakyat dan meningkatkan jumlah wanita dalam Kabinet kerajaan.

Penambahan ini selari dengan dasar Kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) yang mahu melihat 30 peratus wanita memegang jawatan tinggi dalam sektor penting negara.

Berita Harian : Rabu, 25 April 2018

https://www.bharian.com.my/rencana/muka10/2018/04/416576/wanita-dalam-sistem-pemilihan-demokrasi

 

Friday, 27 April 2018 16:51

Political lessons from Prophet Muhammad

The successful career of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a political leader, aside from his primary role as a spiritual guide, is yet to receive widespread attention from religious leaders, let alone the general public. In conjunction with the current political atmosphere and the impending 14th General Election, this article will highlight several key characteristics of the politics in Islam based on the syariah.

Politics is not just a matter of governing, but also a vital tool for education, spiritual, awareness, human understanding and the dissemination of values and principles.

Islam teaches us to achieve this through various peaceful means, including through sincere advice, providing role models, rational persuasion, exemplary leadership, and others.

Politics in Islam aims to guide people towards good and abstain from evil. Integrity, honesty, and trust are key Islamic values that also apply to politics. These values are underpinned by the firm
conviction that the ultimate reward lies not in this world, but in the hereafter and admission to paradise.

These are among the ethical principles of taught and practised by Prophet Muhammad. Another exemplary leadership trait of his, as the leader of the city state of Madinah, includes open consultation (shura), where different views and constructive criticisms are welcomed, and input from the Companions were taken into consideration, and sometimes acted upon.

The Prophet also practised delegation of power. This can be seen in the appointment of Muaz bin Jabal as a governor to Yemen.

This was done to the extent that the Prophet allowed Muaz to practise his independent reasoning (ijtihad) in matters on which no clear text was found in the Quran and Sunnah.

The Prophet’s leadership also emphasises persuasion as opposed to coercion. Winning the people’s hearts has always been the Prophet’s primary approach.

It is through his high spirit, inspiring leadership, a keen understanding of societal reality, and humanitarian values that the Prophet successfully transformed his people from the state of ignorance (jahiliyyah) and idol-worshipping, to worshipping Allah, the one and only Creator.

Aside from transforming his society, the Prophet was also known to engage with major personalities and train them into new generations of future leaders.

Notable instances included the second caliph, Umar Khattab, a once famous drunkard and a fierce opponent of Islam, who became one of the bravest companions in the history of the Khulafa al-Rashidin, and the first Muslim leader to vastly expand the Islamic territories.

Gaining power has not always been the Prophet’s goal. The ultimate objective of leadership lies in his message to invite humans to the ways of Islam. The Prophet was not hostile to non-Muslims, but invited them in a peaceful and felicitous manner. In a famous narration, the Prophet said: “The best among you are those who have the best manner and character.” (Bukhari)

If however, they refused to do accept Islam peacefully, they were will then be protected by the state under the “zimmi” agreement.

The zimmi agreement was in fact ahead of its time in the era of tribal warfare, and far from intending to treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens.

The so-called Machiavellian attitude of “the end justifies the means” is not at all compatible with Islam and must be vigorously opposed and discouraged. Islamic principles dictate that both the means and the ends conform to the teachings of Islam. Mere imbuing of Islamic-sounding names or terminology in political activities do not make them Islamic.

Such instances of abuse include cases where religious vocabulary is used to mislead innocent and uninformed folks for political gain.

Also not in line with the Prophet’s teaching is the practice of uncovering or scrutinising the personal and private shortcomings of political rivals and disclose them in public to gain support.

This contradicts the Prophetic teaching of concealing the faults of others, so that Allah do the same for us in the hereafter.

This, however, does not include matters of public interest.

Aside from the many Prophetic principles and values above, the practice of tolerance and understanding are essential to preserve peace and harmony in a multicultural society.

The single pursuit to gain votes and acquire power, at any cost, is not only against the precepts of Islam and the way of the Prophet, but would only lead to chaos and abuse in society.

In conclusion, the four most
noble characters of Prophet Muhammad SAW (pbuh) were: trustworthiness (siddiq), integrity (amanah); communicative (tabligh), and intelligence (fathonah).

These are also the prime traits that leaders of political parties can emulate. Such characters have a high potential to bring about transparency, tolerance, cooperation and unity among the people.

All leaders should exemplify the positive values of the Prophet (pbuh), and fulfil their responsibility to serve the people, and not seek power for personal gains.

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The writer, an associate professor, is Deputy CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 27 April 2018

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/04/362270/political-lessons-prophet-muhammad

 

The Dangerous Drug Act 1952 has been amended twice. In 1975, Section 39B was inserted, introducing the death penalty, life imprisonment and flogging as punishments. A further amendment in 1983 made death penalty mandatory for drug trafficking. There is, however, an ongoing global debate on whether drug-related offences should carry capital punishment. To date, the worldwide trend is towards abolishing the death penalty for such offences.........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

 

 

Rang undang-undang bagi pindaan Akta Pembaharuan (Perkahwinan dan Perceraian) 1976 atau dikenali sebagai Akta 164 yang diluluskan baru-baru ini adalah pendekatan yang telah diambil dalam menangani isu penukaran agama kepada Islam oleh salah seorang pasangan yang berkahwin secara sivil......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

 

The question as to whether it is Islamically permissible to invest in Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB)/Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) continues to receive polarised responses in Malaysia. It came up again recently at the Selangor Fatwa Committee meeting (April 27), when a fatwa was issued declaring ASB/ASN investments to be permissible for Muslims........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

 

 

Historically, discrimination against women is not peculiar. It happened globally and in almost all civilisations. Women were often treated as their husbands’ properties. They were denied the right to own property or to exercise any civil or public positions. There are many examples of such deprivation across Europe and Asia. For instance, during the 16th to 18th centuries, women in England were denied the right to cast their votes in elections, let alone to contest a seat in Parliament or representative councils.......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

Friday, 19 May 2017 11:22

Custody, religion of minors

Child custody refers to the upbringing of children that includes the responsibility to provide protection, love, care, education, shelter and management to the child. Generally, in determining the legal custodian of a child, the court will first and foremost ensure that the child’s welfare is well-protected......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

Thursday, 26 January 2017 10:00

Increase role of National Fatwa Council

The establishment of fatwa institutions can be traced back to before Independence. Each state’s Islamic council housed its own mufti, and a mufti also served as judge (kadi) and presided over cases at the syariah court. From a legal perspective, the personal views of a mufti are not considered as fatwas. An official fatwa can only be issued collectively through the respective states’ fatwa committee chaired by the mufti. A fatwa is only binding upon Muslims in the state it is issued, provided it receives the sultan’s consent and completes its gazette period. The problem is that fatwas often conflict at the national and state levels, thus becoming a source of confusion to the Muslim masses.................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

 

SETIAP tahun, Sabtu pertama bulan Jun, negara kita menyambut ulang tahun keputeraan Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah dipilih oleh sembilan raja Melayu sebagai Yang di-Pertuan Agong sekarang, iaitu yang ke-14 pada Oktober 2011 dan menaiki takhta pada 13 Disem­ber 2011. Tempoh lima tahun Tuan­ku Abdul Halim menduduki takhta jawatan itu akan tamat pada Disember tahun ini.....................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

 

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