PETALING JAYA: The spat between two state muftis over the issue of illegitimate children continued today with Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin highlighting a little known view taken by Shafi’i Muslim scholars in allowing the biological father to marry his out of wedlock daughter.
The Perlis mufti said this was based on the position that they do not have family ties.
Majority of Muslims in Malaysia follow the Shafi’i school of thought, one of the four major Sunni schools.
But Asri said while the view could invite criticism, it showed the vast differences of opinions among Muslim jurists of the past.
He said agreeing to disagree with such a view was in the spirit of ijtihad, referring to the process of interpreting Islamic texts to come up with contemporary solutions within the scope of the shariah.
Yesterday, Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria chided Asri for supporting a Court of Appeal decision allowing a Muslim child to adopt the biological father’s name instead of the usual practice of affixing “Abdullah”.
Harussani said Asri’s support was akin to legitimising illicit sex.
“Something that has been decided for centuries cannot be changed as it was made based on the Quran, hadith and ijma (consensus among jurists).
“I hope these ulama are careful. We should stick to a consensus that has been there for ages,” he said.
In the judgment released last week, judge Abdul Rahman Sebli said the National Registration Department (NRD) had acted outside its powers by relying on a fatwa, adding that both Muslims and non-Muslims were subjected to the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957.
The decision was not well received by conservative Muslim groups, who said it undermined the fatwa committee’s say in Muslim affairs.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also urged Muslims to unite behind religious authorities in appealing the court’s decision.
Asri today said it was important that Islamic jurisprudence be able to offer solutions to contemporary problems in a fast changing world.
“Obsession and shallowness cause us to fail in solving new problems,” he added.
Asri also cited other strict interpretations of the Islamic texts by past jurists, including the four Sunni schools’ prohibition on musical instruments.
“We don’t hear anyone expressing alarm that people were abandoning the majority views of the jurists. In fact, some who hold firm to these schools of thought still listen to music, watch movies with music in them and have music on their mobile phones. Why do they not say they too have strayed from the religion?” asked Asri.