Critics of ‘bin Abdullah’ decision told to study judge’s ruling

Ahmad-Munawir-newborn KUALA LUMPUR: A syarie lawyer has called on critics of the Court of Appeal decision allowing a Muslim child born out of wedlock to use his father’s name as patronym, instead of “bin Abdullah”, to first look at the reasoning given in the judgment.

“If you really claim to be a Muslim, first of all study and know what was contained in the ruling,” Ahmad Munawir Abdul Aziz said in addressing claims that it was un-Islamic.

“There is legal reasoning. If they study (it) better, they will not be so emotional as they are now.

“If they look at the grounds, they can get a clearer picture of what the issue before the court was, and the reason for the judgment,” he told a forum on naming of illegitimate children titled “Bin Abdullah: Between Stigma, Rights and Religion” organised by Sisters in Islam here today.

Munwair said the decision was in the best interest of the child.

While it did not change the illegitimate status of the child, it enabled the child to identify himself as the father’s offspring, he said.

“From the very beginning, the court had said the question was on whether an innocent child should be subjected to humiliation, embarrassment and public scorn for the rest of his life,” he added.

“This was the issue before the court. Islamic family law has always been concerned with the welfare of the child.

“The paramount concern of the court is the welfare of the child. So to say it (the decision) is un-Islamic is not true,” he added.

Munawir said there was a backlash against the judgment, but there was no need to get emotional over the matter as there were two sides to every coin.

“Some of the comments were disappointing. They were not sensitive and did not consider the multi-racial backdrop of this country, as well as the position of Islamic law here,” he said.

Yesterday, Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif in chairing a Federal Court three-man bench granted leave to the National Registration Department (NRD), its director-general and the Malaysian government to appeal against the appellate court ruling.

On July 27, Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli of the Court of Appeal said the NRD director-general had acted irrationally when the department registered a child with the surname “bin Abdullah” in the birth certificate against the wishes of the mother.

He also said the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA) made no distinction between a Muslim child and a non-Muslim child.

The NRD’s practice was based on two fatwas (religious edicts) issued in 1981 and 2003 that were in conflict with Section 13A(2) of the BDRA which allows the father of an illegitimate child to put his name as the child’s surname.

The child was born on April 17, 2010, five months and 27 days after the couple tied the knot on Oct 24, 2009. This, according to the Islamic lunar calendar, was short of three days from the full six months to legitimise the birth for the couple.

The judicial review on the matter was filed on Sept 3, 2015, and the High Court dismissed the application on Aug 4 last year.

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