The Legal Implications of Conversion to Islam


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

                           The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

I feel impelled to write to you about the legal implications of conversion to Islam. There are Catholics who convert to Islam for whatever reasons but they are hardly aware of the legal consequences of their actions. They fail to consider seriously the implications of their decisions. If you become a Muslim, there are important changes in your legal status and what you can or cannot do.
Hence, as your Bishop I need to inform you of the following:

  1. When you marry a Muslim, you are required by law to convert to Islam.

  2. If you beget a child out of wed lock with a Muslim, you are liable to be judged by the Syariah law and not by the Civil Law and therefore punishable like a Muslim even though you are not a Muslim

  3. Your conversion to Islam will be registered with the Religious Department and the National Registration Department. As it is recorded in the computer, access to this information is available throughout the country.

  4. You will be given a new Identity Card with a new Muslim Name. In it,  will be recorded your conversion to Islam. If you choose to return to your former faith, you will not be issued a new I.C. nor will your old I.C. be returned to you

  5. As a Muslim, you cannot marry a non-Muslim. If you decided to divorce and attempt to relinquish Islam, you will lose custody of your children because they are Muslims; you will have not legal rights over your children.

  6. Even if you are no longer practicing Islam, you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned for violation of  Syariah Laws, such as praying in Church, eating in pubic during fasting month, khalwat, etc

  7. Conversion back to your former religion is not allowed under the law, It is a criminal offence, which means that you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned under Islamic Laws.

  8. Upon death, your non-Muslim relatives will lose their rights to any property, money etc, that you want to leave to them. Your non- Muslim children cannot inherit any property or money from you.

  9. The corpse of a convert to Islam will be taken away from his or her non-Muslim family for Islamic rites and burial even if you have not been a practicing Muslim, or you have secretly returned to your Christian faith for many years (as in the case of Munggai Gotud, reported in Star Tuesday 16August 2005, p. Nation23)

  10. If you are under 18 years of age, you required your parents’ permission to convert to Islam. This is the Civil law, but Syariah law says no need.

  11. If your spouse converts to Islam, all your children automatically are considered Muslims and therefore as a non-Muslim, you have no right to your children or your spouse’s property.

This is not to say we are against Islam or the freedom of religion. Article 11 of our Constitution guarantees all Malaysians the right to choose freely his or her religion. But to choose correctly, you need to know clearly what you choose and the consequences of your choice.

Jesus said, “Every one who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33) Let us pray for one another to remain faithful to Jesus. God bless you all

Yours in Christ and Mary.

Original signed by
Bishop Anthony lee Kok Hin
Bishop’s House, Miri
20th August 2005