Under statute, Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) only has power over muslims. Theoretically it seems pretty clear cut but what happens when a certain scenario involves non-muslims?
Malaysians were dealt with another blow when JAIS allegedly trespassed into a Hindu temple “to stop a traditional wedding ceremony where the bride is apparently a Muslim.”
In protecting Islam & Muslims, does JAIS have the power to infringe on the rights of non-muslims? This is a question that needs urgent addressing.
The courts could make a landmark decision which would bury this issue once and for all, or the Selangor State Assembly could amend the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) 1988, to unambiguously define the scope of JAIS’ authority
One can argue about their rights under Article 11 (guaranteeing the freedom of religion) till the cows come home but in actual fact, the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) 1988 is not unconstitutional as per Article 11(4)
Although many critics pointed out correctly that JAIS seems to have trespassed onto a place of worship, many failed to notice that on top of that, JAIS disturbed a religious ceremony (i.e. the wedding)
Section 296 of the Penal Code makes it a criminal offence to voluntarily cause disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies.
The aggrieved parties should report this matter to the authorities and allow them to investigate and take further action if necessary. Although JAIS may have been acting under a statutory duty, it seems as if they crossed the line when they interfered with the wedding
Another question that needs clarification is regarding unilateral conversions. In the case of this bride, she was converted by her father when she was a child.
Although the courts ruled that unilateral conversions are legal, the decision seems to be in conflict with the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961. Unfortunately after so long, we are back to square one
In order to resolve this issue, the courts need to overrule their previous decision(s) or Parliament needs to amend the statute to reflect the same view as the courts
Maintaining the status quo is out of the question as it causes uncertainty as well as leaves the law open for manipulation by certain parties
* Read it also at The Malay Mail Online