Child Conversion in Malaysia: Issues and the Way Forward
The controversy involving the issue of child conversion resurfaced in 2022 with the case of Mrs Loh Siew Hong, whose daughters were taken by her Muslim-convert former husband despite her acquiring full custody over the children. Additionally, the children were unilaterally registered as Muslims and were put under the full care of a religious teacher appointed by the Perlis State Religious Council. Eventually, Mrs Hong managed to engage with the caretaker and attempt to bring back her daughters under her care while lodging a judicial review challenging the unilateral conversion of her children.
In the classical discourse, scholars have varied opinions with regard to the status of a child’s religion when one the parents convert to Islam, or even convert out of the religion. The majority opinion held that the child’s religion should follow any parties who embrace Islam regardless of whether it is the father or mother. However, there is also the opinion that argues that a child’s religion should follow the father’s as he is the one who carries the lineage. Nonetheless, in securing justice to parties who are involved in this issue, particularly within the context of a country like Malaysia which has a dual legal system of civil and Islamic laws, it would not be sufficient to merely rely on the classical opinions as it is in fact a complex problem.
To discuss on this pressing issue, IAIS Malaysia has invited two legal experts; Associate Prof. Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, the Director-General of IKIM and Datin Dr Faridah Abdul Jalil, a former law professor at UKM and currently the advisor of the Institute of Political Reform and Democracy.
Watch the recording of this event on >> IAIS Malaysia's Facebook Page
International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.