Buddhist Dad Wins Court Bid to Cancel Kids’ Conversion to Islam

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High Court allows judicial review by father challenging ex-wife’s unilateral conversion of children to Islam.

Chronology: 

  • Two children born in civil marriage when parents were still Buddhists
  • Couple in the midst of divorce proceedings, woman converted to Islam
  • Mother converted children without father’s consent and knowledge
  • Father filed fresh application for divorce
  • Mother obtained custody of children 
  • Divorce finalised
  • Mother ordered to hand over children to father
  • Children under father’s custody

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has allowed the judicial review application by a Buddhist father who is challenging the unilateral conversion of his two children to Islam by his ex-wife.

Following this, High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Azizah Nawawi quashed the conversion certificate of the children – now aged 6 and 10.

Justice Azizah said she was bound by the M Indira Gandhi’s case that both parents must give consent when converting children to Islam.

Choo Choy May

Indira had succeeded in her bid to annul the conversion of her three children to Islam by her former husband, a Muslim convert.

In this case, the conversion of two children to Islam had caused a dispute between their Muslim convert mother and their Buddhist father.

The mother had converted to Islam in December 2015 and obtained custody of the two children from the Shah Alam High Court in April this year.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

Lawyers for the Muslim convert ex-wife, Rohani Ibrahim and Zulkifli Che Yong.

The children, who were born in a civil marriage when the mother was still a Buddhist, had converted to Islam in 2016. The mother converted the children at the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department on May 11, 2016, without the father’s knowledge and consent.

That was also the day that the father had filed a fresh application for divorce at the Shah Alam High Court.

In his application filed on June 14, 2016, the businessman father named the director-general of the Federal Territories Religious Department (Jawi), Federal Territories Registrar of Muallaf, the director-general of the Education Ministry, the Federal Government and the 42-year-old mother as respondents.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

Lawyers Honey Tan, K Shanmuga and Matt Wong represented the Buddhist father.

He has applied for leave to initiate a judicial review to quash the conversion of his then four-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter by his Muslim convert wife.

The 46-year-old Buddhist father is also seeking an injunction to stop the respondents and each one of them from registering or causing to be registered any change of children’s religion to Islam.

He also wants an order to revoke any documents that are in the possession of the Registrar of Muallaf or Education Ministry.

Alternatively, he is seeking a declaration that the certificate of conversions of the two children is null and void, and that they were unlawfully converted.

He claimed his former wife had converted the children to Islam with the intention of getting custody of them.

The woman converted to Islam while she and her former husband were in the midst of a divorce.

The divorce proceedings were finalised in April this year.

The mother initially obtained custody of the children but was ordered to surrender them to their father last month by the Court of Appeal.

The two children are currently under the father’s custody.

The court also dismissed a stay bid by Sulaiman Abdullah, the lawyer for the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department’s (Jawi) registrar for new converts, to halt the annulment of the children’s conversion certificates.

“I’m sorry, there is no legal basis for a stay,” Azizah said.