Siti Fatimah case: ‘It is against Islam’
Published: Wednesday January 7, 2009 MYT 7:32:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 7, 2009 MYT 8:38:41 PM
By K. Kasturi Dewi
Counsel Ahmad Jailani Abdul Ghani said this in his submission that the Syariah Court was duty-bound to determine a person’s real faith.
“If it is clear that person is a non-Muslim, then it should be ruled as such. The status to determine whether or not a person is a Muslim or kafir is very important as it involves related matters such as property, marriage, death and others,” he said.
He submitted this at the hearing of the State Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP)’s appeal at the Syariah Court of Appeal on Wednesday against a Syariah High Court decision allowing Muslim convert Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce Islam and revert to her original faith.
The Court of Appeal fixed March 16 to deliver its decision.
Justices Ibrahim Lembut, Muhammad Asri Abdullah and Abu Bakar Ahmad fixed the date after hearing submissions by MAIPP’s counsels Ahmad Munawir Abdul Aziz and Ahmad Jailani.
The MAIPP in its appeal stated that the trial judge had misconstrued Section 61(3)(b)(X) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Penang) Enactment 2004.
The council said the question was whether the Section gave room for a person to convert out of the Muslim faith or whether it merely gave the court power to determine if a person was still a Muslim.
It said the court had failed to consider the fact that Siti Fatimah, 39, had been a Muslim for a year before she got married.
Ahmad Munawir submitted that Section 61(3)(b)(X) of the Enactment merely gave the court power to determine a person’s religious status and did not provide a mechanism for the court to legalise Siti Fatimah’s act of converting out of Islam unlike Negri Sembilan and Malacca which had procedures to deal with cases of murtad (apostate).
He also submitted that the trial judge did not make any finding of fact on why Siti Fatimah had been a Muslim for one year and one week before her marriage to her Iranian husband.
“She had basically hoodwinked the court by saying that her conversion was purely for her marriage purposes when she had undergone the declaration of her faith in Islam prior to her marriage,” he claimed.
On May 8 last year, the Syariah High Court had declared that Siti Fatimah was no longer a Muslim and ordered MAIPP to cancel her certificate of conversion to Islam.
Siti Fatimah, whose Chinese name is Tan Ean Huang, from Nibong Tebal, filed the application in May 2006.
In her affidavit, she said she converted to Islam in July 1998 for the sake of marrying an Iranian named Ferdoun Ashanian in 1999 but had not practised its teachings.
She said Ferdoun left her a few months after their marriage and she had no knowledge of his whereabouts. She also said she had maintained her Buddhist leanings and prayed to deities like Tua Pek Kong, Kuan Yin and Thi Kong.