The Legal Implications of Conversion to Islam
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
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:
- When you
marry a Muslim, you are required by law to convert to Islam.
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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)
- 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.
- 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
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