PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has remitted to the High Court to determine whether 39 individuals, including foreigners, who professed the Ahmadiyya belief are Muslims or otherwise.
A three-member bench chaired by Badariah Sahamid said if the persons were Ahmadiyya by original faith, then the Selangor shariah court had no jurisdiction over them in the state.
She said should it be proven that they were following the faith after converting out of Islam, then the religious court had authority over them.
Badariah said the information in the identity cards on the religious status of Malaysians was not conclusive proof which faith one belonged to.
Badariah, who sat with Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Nor Bee Ariffin to hear appeals from the Selangor government and the religious authorities last year, delivered the judgment on Tuesday.
The bench set aside the relief given in a judicial review on July 6, 2018 by then High Court judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera to the applicants pending their religious status.
The bench has also ordered Vazeer, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, to rehear the matter as soon as possible.
Twenty Malaysians, eight Pakistani asylum seekers, two Indian nationals and an Indonesian were performing Friday prayers on April 11, 2014 at the community centre in Batu Caves, Selangor.
They challenged the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) for trying to charge them with shariah offences, on the basis that Islamic authorities in Selangor do not recognise Ahmadiyya as Muslims.
The group was informed that they had not obtained written permission to use the premises – a shoplot in Dolomite Park, Batu Caves – for purposes which may only be carried out on, in or by a mosque, contrary to Section 97 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.
Vazeer went on to rule that the Selangor religious authorities have no right to stop religious activities of the Ahmadiyya community, who follow a sect which Muslims generally regard as being outside the fold of Islam.
The judge also ruled that JAIS has no right to bring charges against members of the sect for violating a state fatwa against Ahmadiyya teachings.
On a broader note, Badariah, who will go on mandatory retirement next month, said
Ahmadiyya were, as with all other persons, entitled to the freedom of religion subject to Articles 11(4) and (5) of the Federal Constitution.
“But because of the dual legal system in Malaysia, their status, as to whether they are
Muslims or not, coupled by the fact that their MyKad may state their religion to be ‘Islam’ may give rise to ambiguity in their religious status,” she said.
She said the difficulties were compounded as the issuance of MyKads by the National Registration Department is pursuant to federal powers.
Badariah said perhaps it was timely that all the states along with the federal government worked out a unified regime to determine the religious status of the Ahmadiyya so that they are not put at risk of shariah investigation and prosecution.