1. practise, and, subject to certain restrictions, to

1. INTRODUTIONMalaysia is known as multi-ethnic andmulti-religious country. The Federal Constitution of Malaysia guaranteesfreedom of religion where every person is granted the right to profess andpractise, and, subject to certain restrictions, to promulgate his or herreligion.

Though not expressly stated, it may be implied that such right shallinclude the right to change one’s religion or belief. Otherwise, it will renderthe freedom of religion as enshrined in Art 11 of the Federal Constitutionillusory or ineffective and fall short of the international human rights standards1.However, the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided byhis or her parent or guardian2.

  In Malaysia, Syariah Courts only have jurisdictionover persons professing the religion of Islam. Questions arise as to what extenta non-Muslim parent has the right to determine the religion of the child if thespouse embraces Islam and the impact of the child’s conversion to Islam on thecustody dispute between the parents3.Such questions, if left unattended, will lead to social tension anddisintegrate the religious cohesion in the country, which is detrimental to thenational unity4. Non-Muslim marriages inMalaysia are governed by the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (“LRA”)5.

The LRA specifically excludes its application to Muslims, except where apetition for divorce is filed by the non-converting spouse against theconverted spouse on the ground of conversion to Islam as provided in s 51 ofthe LRA. Hence, conversion to Islam of one spouse can be a ground for the non-convertingspouse to petition for divorce and seek ancillary relief6. However, it is observed that the Islamic law ascontained in the various state enactments and the federal statute havedistinguished the parental right over a child’s religion based on the religionof the parents, particularly the converted parent, at the time the child isborn. It seems that the non-converting parent has no right to determine thechild’s religion if such child is born after another spouse embraces Islam andthe civil marriage has not been dissolved. This is because the various stateenactments in Malaysia define “Muslim” as, inter alia, “a person either or bothof whose parents were at the time of the person’s birth, a Muslim.  2.

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FREEDOM OF RELIGIONThe freedom of religion has become a main topic in our country.There are a lot of opinion from the Muslims towards this topic. There are 70%or more Muslims in each country surveyed in these regions hold a view aboutthey are free to practice any faith they want. 7Notwithstandingflexibility for themselves, most Muslims trust people from different religionscan hone their faith straightforwardly. 8Among Muslimswho say individuals of various religions are allowed to rehearse their faith,seventy five percent or more in every nation say this is something worth beingthankful for.

For a certain something, it is tucked away in the real worldwidehuman rights traditions. 9It can likewise be gotten from the estimation of religion itself, in whichindividuals over a tremendous assortment of times and places have looked forsatisfaction. Recognizing that religion will be at its practically true when itmay be uninhibitedly picked, those Determination that those state ought furtherbolstering guarantee the benefit should search then afterward that fulfilmentunhindered takes after regularly10. At long last, the Muslim world likewise contains religiously freeadministrations, adding much further unpredictability to the negative judgmentof the satellite view11. Cases of suchadministrations incorporate Kosovo, Djibouti, Albania, Mali, Senegal and SierraLeone– the greater part of them observably outside the Arab world12. These administrations –around one-fourth of Muslim-larger part nations – demonstrate that the dissentof religious opportunity is a long way from the entire story in the Muslimworld.

There might be no efficient clarification for why these nations arereligiously free. For a few, the underlying foundations of flexibility may liein a specific type of Islamic philosophy or culture that encapsulatesresilience. In others, opportunity may have emerged through a modus vivendiamong Islam and different religions eventually in the nation’s history. Thesecases, however, demonstrate that Muslim populaces can, in specific situations,demonstrate neighbourly to religious opportunity13.While Islam may endure ashortage of religious flexibility in the total, Islam isn’t really theexplanation for this deficiency.

Mainstream abusive governments are a broadwellspring of constraint in the Muslim world. 14Indeed, even Islamistadministrations frequently have their inception in chronicled conditions thatgive a false representation of a simple linkage of Islamic lessons withreligious constraint. This joined with the nearness of religiously free nationsin Islam, focuses to the likelihood that religious opportunity in the Muslimworld may extend15.Generally speaking, Muslims comprehensively bolster the possibility ofreligious freedom16. Most of the Muslimshave the opinion about the freedom of religion is actually good for them17.

The matter of the freedom of religion has been addressed by Allah Himselfin a few verses in the Al-Quran:”We have not sent you (O Muhammad) but to all mankind as a giver of goodnews and as a warner, but most people do not know18.” (Quran 34:28) “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never beaccepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers19.” (Quran 3:85)”Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear fromError: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the mosttrustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth allthings20.” (Quran 2:286)”You cannot guide whomever you wish, but it is Allah who guideswhomever He wishes, and He knows best those who are guided21.” (Quran 28:56)3. Article 12(4) of the Federation ConstitutionInFederal Constitution (hereinafter FC), Article 12 (4) stated that for thepurposes of Clause (3) the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shallbe decided by his parent or guardian.

Article 12(3) for FC also mentioned thatno person shall be required to receive instruction in or take part in anyceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own22.Article 160 and theEleventh Schedule of the Federal Constitution should be apply so that the word”his” would also mean “her”.  If not, thewords will be interpreted literally as they appear, then Articles 12(3) and (4)of FC would only be applicable to the conversions of males under the age ofeighteen years, and would not apply to females. It is clear to say that thediscrimination of gender in this 2 Article is not the original intention ofsuch a provision in the Federal Constitution23. Themain controversy raised from the word “parent” used in Article 12(4) ofFC.  As the “word “parent” is expressedin singular form, some may defined that only one parent’s consent is needed toconvert a minor’s religion24. However, some opposedby saying that the expression “parent” in singular form also contain the pluralmeaning “parents”.

It is beyond doubt that it is against the Parliament’spurpose if only one parent’s consent is required under Article 12(4) of FC.25 Based on Oxford EnglishDictionary26,the definition of the word “parent” is “a father or mother”. The phrase “or”used in the definition emphasised that that a parent means either a father or amother. According to The Kamus Dwibahasa Oxford Fajar, the word “parent” isdefined as “ibu-bapa”.

The omission of the conjunctive “atau” (or) is confusingand unclear. 27Asthis is just the general definition of the word, it is not uncommon thatordinary dictionary defined words differently from an Act of Parliament or aState Enactment. Therefore, generally, there will a specific section in everystatute to define certain words to make the meaning of the words clear in thestructure of a sentence within specific provision28. In addition, Article160 (1) which is the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution clearly providesthat the words in the singular include the plural, and words in the pluralinclude the singular. Section 4(3) of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967carries the same meaning which provides that words and expressions in thesingular include the plural, and words and expressions in the plural includethe singular29.

The Bahasa version of FC also provides “Perkataan dalam bilangan tunggaltermasuklah bilangan jamak, dan perkataan dalam bilangan jamak termasuklahbilangan tunggal.” It can be concluded that words and expressions which are insingular they include plural and plural include singular is constitutionallyand commonly accepted legal position. The Federal Constitution which was inEnglish was translated into the National language of Malaysia which is Malaylanguage. Article 160B of FC was inserted to give effect to the translation andprovides that the national language text of the Constitution shall prevail overthe English language text if any conflict arises between this 2 languages.Anotherconfusion came to light when the word “parent” has been translated as “ibu ataubapa” (mother or father). In the National language version, Article 12(4) of FChas been translated as “Bagi maksud Fasal (3) agama seseorang yang di bawahumur 18 tahun hendaklah ditetapkan oleh ibu atau bapanya atau penjaganya.

” WhenArticle 12(4) of FC in the English version is read along with Article 160(1) ofFC and the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967, it is clearly understood that thereligion of a person under 18 years shall be decided by his parents. On theother hand, Bahasa version of Article 12(4) provides that either father ormother could decide the religion of a person under the age of 18, thus theoriginal meaning and intention had been lost. 30 In certain conditions, asingle parent could decide the religion of a minor if one of the otherbiological parents or one of the legally adoptive parents had passed away. Italso seems like the translator did not think of special composition of theMalaysian society which is multi-racial and multi religious31. Anotherstage of confusion is portrayed in the State Enactments.

In the StateEnactments regarding the Administration of Islam, majority of the States usethe words “ibu atau bapa” to consent the conversion of a minor. Nevertheless,Penang, Selangor, Sabah use “ibu dan bapa” in the same provision32. The difference or errorin the translation of Article 12(4) of FC is too obvious as the translation hasdisregard the changing fact when words are expressed in singular or plural form33.4. CONVERSION OF MINOR INMALAYSIAAscurrently there are many cases where non-Muslim parents were unaware and notconsent that the other non-Muslim spouse has converted their under 18children’s religion after converting themselves to Islam34. The Bill tabled by theGovernment to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 in 2016.This is to ensure that both parents must consent to the conversion of the childunder 18 years old35. A new section, Section88A will be inserted through the amendment which makes clear that both parentsin a civil marriage must agree to the conversion of a minor into Islam as thelaw is silent on this aspect currently.

In this Section, a child afterattaining the age of majority has the right to decide on the issue of his orher religion36.In Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Pengarah Jabatan IslamPerak and Ors, the Ipoh High Court qua Family Court, in managing the one-sidedchange of minor kids to Islam by their changed over the father, was constrainedto swim through the mind-boggling and prickly interface between common law andIslamic law in Malaysia. In the occasion, in a soundly contemplated choiceconveyed on 25 July 201337,the High Court subdued the minor youngsters’ conversion to Islam by the father withoutthe knowledge of mother and stated that the conversion is null and void. The issuesin Indira Gandhi as chose by the High Court was, initially, the non-changingover parent to be heard before the minor youngsters can be changed over and,also, the Federal Constitution did not take away the forces of the common HighCourts the minute an issue came extremely close to the Syariah Courts, the lastbeing only an animal of state law, without the ward to settle on the defensiveability of issues said to be inside its select domain. The interest to theFederal Court was heard in late 2016 yet the peak court still can’t seem toissue its choice38.”Parent”covers both the father and mother of the youngster39.  The father is the parent as well as themother. A father and a mother joined together and become “parent”.

Forthe disable child, the father cannot decided the child’s religion but themother could do so. 40Article 160B of the Federal Constitution gives thatthe national dialect content should be definitive and any inconsistency betweensuch national dialect content and the English dialect message, the nationaldialect content might beat the English dialect content. The genuine reason forthe adjustment in the words41″Article12 (4) might be perused as “chosen by his parents”. Twoguardians can’t be of one personality .The same ought to apply uniformly andsimilarly to a wide range of change. The assent of the changed over parentwould do the trick42.Where they can’t concur on the religion of the minor youngster yet that fortransformation to Islam. This is the problems whether this was affected by orcome about because of the current pattern of the court choices which decipheredArticle 12(4) of the Federal Constitution.

Just enduring the consent of one parentunderstanding that the other parent had dissented would provoke a not as muchas the alluring state, without a doubt, of reiterated changes of one parent ofthe child against the difference in the other. Or then again as by virtue of adifference in the minor child to Islam by the changed over parent, thenon-changing over parent is said to have no locus to challenge the authenticityof the Certificate of Conversion which is last and legitimate and that oncechanged over into Islam no one can change over the minor youth out of Islam43.(Subashini Rajasingam v.

Saravanan Thangathoray). 5. CONCLUSIONIn conclusion, conversion of minor in Malaysia is avery essential matter to look into44.In the process of conversion, a minor must and have to follow accordingly tothe legal procedures that are stated and given by the Federal Constitution45.It is also very important to guarantee that the issue of transformation doesnot come in the method for guaranteeing the youngster’s welfare and thefollowing custodial obligations by the questioning guardians46.In addition, it is an essential and it should be highly looked up in the matterof building up an exceptional 1 Article11(1) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia provides that “every person hasthe right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), topropagate it”.2 Article 12(4) ofthe Federal Constitution of Malaysia. In Malaysia, a person attains the age ofmajority at 18-years-old, as provided in  S.

2 of the Age of Majority Act 1971 (Act 21).3 Section 3(3) ofthe Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (Act 164) provides that the Actshall not apply to a Muslim or any person who is married under Muslim lawexcept s 51 whereby the court may grant a decree of divorce on the petition ofone party to a marriage where the other party has converted to Islam.4 In Subashini a/p Rajasingam v Saravanan a/lThangathoray 2008 2 MLJ 147; 2008 2 CLJ 1 at 15 (FC), it was stated that:The legislature, by enacting s 51, clearly envisaged a situation that where oneparty to non-Muslim marriage converted to Islam, the other party who has notconverted may petition to the High Court for divorce and seek ancillaryreliefs. Further, it would seem to us that Parliament, in enacting subsection51(2), must have had in mind to give protection to non-Muslim spouses andchildren of the marriage against a Muslim convert5 NoAuthor.( 26 August 2016). Law Reform act Amendment 6 Sheila AinonYussof. (ND). Conversion Issue in Malaysia.

Retrieved From: 7 No Author. (30April2013). The Worlds Muslim: Religion, Politics and Society.

Retrieved from:8Amy McCaig-Tice University (14 March 2016) Religious Freedom Was Key To Muhammad’s’Muslim nation’, Retrieved from:

org/muhammad-christians-religious-freedom-1120112-2/>9 Daniel Philpott.(10 July 2015). Are Muslim Country Really Unreceptive to Religion Freedom?Retrieved from: 10 Daniel Philpott.(30 January 2017).

Religious Freedom in The Muslim World. Retrieved From:11 No Author. (ND).

What Muslim-majority Countries Allow Freedom of Religion? Retrieved From:  12No Author (3 June 2003) Muslim Opinion on Government and Social Issues.Retrieved From:

pewglobal.org/2003/06/03/chapter-2-muslim-opinion-on-government-and-social-issues/>13Khadija Moalla.(3 May 2016).  Furthering FreedomOf Religion And Belief In Muslim-Majority Country. Retrieved From:

net/5050/khadija-moalla/how-to-further-freedom-of-religion-and-belief-in-muslim-majority-countries>14Magdi Abdelhadi. (27 March 2016). What Islam says on Religious Freedom. RetrievedFrom:

bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4850080.stm>15 Peter Beinart. (11April 2017).

When Conservatives Oppose ‘Religious Freedom’. Retrievedfrom: 16 Ali Mansuri.

(9 February2015). 6Quran Quotes That Teach Love, Tolerance and Freedom of Religion. Retrievedfrom: 17 Mustafa Umar.(10th April 2011). Does Islam Force Itself On Others? Retrieved from: 

virtualmosque.com/islam-studies/hot-topics/does-islam-force-itself-on-others/>18 SurahSaba34:2819 SurahAli’Imran3:8520 SurahAl-Baqara2:28621 SurahAl-Qasas28:5622No Author. (ND).Constitution of Malaysia, Article 12: Religion and Education.Retrieved from:

edu/quotes/constitution-of-malaysia-article-12-religion-and-education>23 ChristopherLeong. (2 July 2013) Press Release: Legislation Inconsistent with Article 12(4)of Federal Constitution is Unconstitutional. Retrieved from:  

com/blog/press-release-legislation-inconsistent-with-article-124-of-federal-constitution-is-unconstitutional/>24 Ida Lim. (30November 2016). Only One Parent’s Consent Needed for Child Religion Conversion.Retrieved from: 25 A parliament isa legislative, elected body of government.

Generally, a modern parliament hasthree functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing thegovernment via hearings and inquiries.26 Oxford EnglishDictionary Volume XI, page 22227 In law, a minoris a person under a certain age, usually the age of majority, which legallydemarcates childhood from adulthood. The age of majority depends uponjurisdiction and application, but it is generally 18.28K. Siladass (6 December 2016) The word ‘parent’ in Article 12(4) of the FederalConstitution. Retrieved from :

my/members_opinions_and_comments/the_word_parent_in_article_124_of_the_federal_constitution_k._siladass.html>29Malaysian law which enacted to provide for the commencement, application,construction, interpretation and operation of written laws; to provide formatters in relation to the exercise of statutory powers and duties; and formatters connected therewith. 30 Lee Swee SengJC.

(25 July 2013). Indira Gandhi Mutho V. Pengarah Jabatan Agama Islam Perak& Ors Judicial Review No: 25-10-2009.31 V Anbalagan (10August 2017) Conversion Of Minor Needs Consent Of Parents, Says Lawyer. Retrievedfrom:  

freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/10/conversion-of-minor-needs-consent-of-parents-says-lawyer/>32 No Author. (9 December 2016). Azalina: Cabinet agrees to amend Article 12(4) ofFederal Constitution. Retrieved from :

thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/12/09/cabinet-agrees-to-amend-article-of-federal-constitution>33 No Author. (30September 20013). Malay Version of Federal Constitution Launched.Retrieved from :

my/news/nation/2003/09/30/malay-version-of-federal-constitution-launched/>34 Josh Wu. (7 January 2016) .Unilateral Child Conversions And Our Constitution.

Retrieved from:35 State laws enacted by the State Legislative Assemblies which appliesin the particular state.36 Haikal Jalil. (21 November 2006). Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)(Amendment) Bill 2016 Tabled in Dewan Rakyat. Retrieved from:

my/news/2068525>37 2013 5 MLJ 55238 Chee YingKuek. (ND). Unilateral Conversion of a Child Religion and Paretal Rights inMalaysia. Retrieved From: <.http://www.academia.

edu/5788356/Unilateral_Conversion_of_a_Childs_Religion_and_Parental_Rights_in_Malaysia>39 No Author. (5Febuary 2007). Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO). Memorandum. Safeguard Rights ofWives and Children upon Conversion of Husbands to Islam. 40 No Author.

(16May 2016). Are Unilateral Conversion Of Minors Islamic? Retrieved From: 41No Author. (29August 2016).

Move to Amend Law Lauded. Retrieved from:  

com.my/opinion/letters/2016/08/29/move-to-amend-law-lauded/>42  No Author. (7 April 2017). Expedite Amendments To End UnilateralChild Conversion, Putrajaya Told. Retrieved From:

themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/expedite-amendments-to-end-unilateral-child-conversion-putrajaya-told#fSTBAMMT26CwPCRh.97>43 Steven Thiru.

(8Jun 2016). PressRelease | Preserve, Respect and Uphold the Supremacy of the Federal Constitution.Retrieved From:44 Dr Mohamed AzamMohamed Adil.

(19 May 2017). Custody, Religion of Minors. Retrieved From:

com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/05/240608/custody-religion-minors>45 Mohd Zamro Muda. (September 2009). Conversion of Minorin Islam. Retrieved From:

researchgate.net/publication/273597769_Conversion_of_Minors_to_Islam_in_Malaysia>46 No Author. (22 November 2016). Bill aims to end unilateralconversion of kids in Malaysia. Retrieved From: