‘Court ruling on ‘Abdullah’ will help prevent stigmatisation’

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PETALING JAYA: A welfare home manager says a court decision allowing a Muslim child born out of wedlock the right to carry his or her bioligical father’s name rather than “Abdullah” will benefit such children.

Speaking to FMT, Haslinda Dol Hamid, the manager of Rumah Titian Kaseh which houses some 90 orphans and poor children said that the ruling in a way, would help stop children born out of wedlock from being mocked.

“Kids with the surname ‘bin/binti Abdullah’ are often mocked, to the point they start fighting,” she said, adding children nowadays were smart and knew what the surname implied.

“They will mock a child out of wedlock, calling them an ‘illegitimate child’, and the child being mocked will get angry and develop low self-esteem.”

From a non-religious point of view, Haslinda said the decision by the court may also make life easier for the child in helping them know their family.

But, she said, it would be better if the information of the father was included in the birth certificate.

Currently, she said the birth certificate of Muslim children born out of wedlock or within six months of the parents’ marriage had no such information.

“So now, even if they allow the children to take their father’s surname, it may not be enough. The real father’s information must be included so they can know who their father is and if in the future they want to look for the father, it will be easier.”

Haslinda said from a religious perspective however, the views of religious experts must be taken into consideration.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal ruled against the National Registration Department (JPN) in allowing a child born out of wedlock to take up the father’s name, saying JPN’s action violated the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA), which makes no distinction between a Muslim child and a non-Muslim child.

The child, who was born on April 17, 2010, three days short of the six-month period to legitimise the birth to the couple, was given the surname “Abdullah”.

Based on fatwas issued by the National Fatwa Committee in 1981, JPN refused the parents’ request to use the father’s name in the birth certificate, but the court said the fatwa was in conflict of the BDRA which allows the father of the illegitimate child to make his name the child’s surname.

Stigmatisation due to society’s mentality

An activist from a volunteer group which combats baby dumping and sale, however disagreed with the court’s judgment, as it contravened Islamic rules.

Hamidah (not her real name) the founder of Kami Sanggup Ambil Anak Angkat (KSAAA), said that it was clear in the Quran that children born out of wedlock aren’t eligible for many things including being a wali and inheritance.

“If they were to allow the children to take on their biological father’s surname rather than Abdullah or any of the 99 names of God, which is currently practised, the child’s status as an illegitimate child must be noted on the birth certificate to avoid complications in matters such as inheritance or being a wali.

She also said that it didn’t matter if an orphan born out of wedlock took on the father’s biological name or not, as from her experience, those who wanted to adopt a child never had an issue with the child’s status.

“Most of the people I help by matching adoptive families and children born out of wedlock don’t care. They know the child is an illegitimate child.

“Even then they know that as an adoptive father, the child cannot take on the adopted father’s surname as it is against Islamic teachings.”

The main issue, Hamidah said wasn’t about a child’s surname but the mentality of society.

“The children are innocent, the problem lies with members of society who stigmatise children born out of wedlock. Allowing the children to take on their biological father’s name doesn’t stop the root problem of people stigmatising others.”

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