Negotiating Apostasy: Applying to “Leave Islam” in Malaysia

Mohd. Al Adib Samuri, Muzammil Quraishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Malaysia, freedom of religion has clear limitations, especially regarding Muslims wishing to leave Islam, who may currently find it difficult to secure legal acceptance. However, such applications are received under a Sharia legal provision in Negeri Sembilan – the only state in Malaysia that allows a Muslim to change his religion for reasonable cause. The application is made at the Sharia High Court, and is then forwarded to the Mufti's Department, which in turn arranges a consultation for the applicant to reconsider his decision. This article critically reviews this process of application to leave Islam and also provides a clear mapping of principal court decisions and an analysis of the legal rationale for accepting some applications and refusing others. The paper is critical of the disproportionate discretion afforded to Muslim bureaucrats in the Mufti's Department with regard to determining an individual's religious rights and argues that, in Malaysia, the power to legally determine or classify religion should be confined to the Sharia Court. Finally, the article evaluates how “applications to leave Islam” are reconciled with and distinguished from the Islamic prohibition of “apostasy” and so is relevant to Islamic countries beyond Malaysia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-523
Number of pages17
JournalIslam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

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sharia
Islam
Malaysia
Muslim
Religion
legal provision
religious freedom
court decision
applicant
acceptance
cause
Apostasy
Sharia
Muslims
Mufti

Keywords

  • apostasy
  • Malaysian Islamic law
  • Sharia Court

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Religious studies

Cite this

Negotiating Apostasy : Applying to “Leave Islam” in Malaysia. / Samuri, Mohd. Al Adib; Quraishi, Muzammil.

In: Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 25, No. 4, 01.10.2014, p. 507-523.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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