Chief Justice: “One cannot embrace or leave religion as one fancies”

This was what Yang Amat Arif Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, the Chief Justice of Malaysia said when he made the landmark ruling on Lina Joy’s case yesterday at the Federal Court in Putrajaya.

Quoted from The Star,, :

CJ: NRD’s requirement is reasonable

PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim has ruled that the National Registration Department had reasonably required Lina Joy to get a certificate of apostasy from the Syariah Court.

This would allow the court to proceed to make a deletion (of the word ‘Islam’) from her identity card.

The top judge also ruled that since the Syariah Court had the jurisdiction over cases involving conversion to Islam, it should, by implication, have the power to decide on apostasy matters.

“I do not see any defect in the 1999 Federal Court judgement in the case of Soon Singh (which decided on the same grounds and which led to the provision for Muslims to state their religion in their identity card).

“To say that she is not under the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court – because she no longer professes Islam – is not appropriate,” said Ahmad Fairuz in his 41-page judgment.

He added that the way one leaves a religion is set by the religion itself.

“No one is stopping her from marrying. She is merely required to fulfil certain obligations, for the Islamic authorities to confirm her apostasy, before she embraces Christianity.

“In other words, one cannot embrace or leave a religion according to one’s whims and fancies.”

He said a mere statutory declaration that one has renounced Islam is not sufficient to remove the word “Islam” from a Muslim person’s identity card.

“This is because apostasy is an issue dealing with Islamic laws.

“Therefore, the NRD has adopted the policy that requires verification by the religious authorities or the Syariah Court before the department can delete the word.

“Therefore, I agree with the Court of Appeal’s majority judgment that the NRD’s policy is completely reasonable,” said Ahmad Fairuz.


This was how NST, , featured the same story:

Federal Court dismiss Lina Joy’s appeal

By : A. Hafiz Yatim and Rita Jong

Email to friend Email to Friend Print article Print Article

LINA Joy has lost her long battle to have her religious status adjudicated by the country’s civil laws.

A three-judge Federal Court panel ruled by a 2-1 majority that only the syariah court
has the power to determine whether a person is still a Muslim based on Islamic law.
It said Lina, born Azlina Jailani, should obtain a syariah court order confirming her
apostasy before the NRD could remove the word “Islam” from her identity card…

Lina ‘must go to syariah court’

PUTRAJAYA: Lina Joy lost her long battle through the courts yesterday to have her religious status adjudicated under the country’s civil laws.

The Federal Court rejected her appeal for the removal of the word “Islam” from her identity card, saying the issue of conversion should be dealt with by the syariah court.The three-judge panel, comprising Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Richard Malanjum and Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, ruled 2-1 against Lina, who has been trying to effect the change for nine years.Ahmad Fairuz, with Alauddin concurring and Malanjum dissenting, said in a 42-page judgment that there were three issues that needed to be decided:

• Whether the National Registration Department was entitled in law to impose a requirement for a person to produce a declaration from the syariah court before deleting the word “Islam” from the person’s IC.
• Whether the NRD was correct to impose the requirement when it was not expressly provided for in the regulations, and;
• Whether a prior case of religious conversion had been rightly decided when the court declared that Islamic matters were under the jurisdiction of the syariah court.Ahmad Fairuz said he agreed with the NRD that it could not accept the statutory declaration provided by Lina that she was no longer a Muslim.

“If this is done, those born and educated as Muslims may also choose to remain ignorant, or, in wanting to prevent persecution from Islamic laws, may declare themselves to be renouncing the religion.

“This would result in Muslim society being ostracised. For this reason, in the majority decision I feel that a statutory declaration to the NRD to determine a person’s religion was insufficient for the word ‘Islam’ to be removed.”Lina, 43, born Azlina Jailani, had managed to change her name in her identity card, but her religion remained listed as Islam. She made several applications between 1998 and 2000 to remove the word, but these were rejected.

“The NRD officer was acting within his powers to seek documentary statements as reference which he felt necessary to support any application.

“Reference here need not mean that the syariah court had the jurisdiction to delete the word “Islam” in the identity card. The syariah court is only required to determine whether the appellant was still a Muslim based on Islamic law.”

Ahmad Fairuz said the court felt that the determination of whether a person had renounced Islam was within the realm of Islamic law, and that the right authority was thus the syariah court.”Hence, the NRD’s reluctance to react until it received certification from an Islamic authority like the syariah court was logical,” he said.
Lina had sought legal redress at the High Court, naming the Federal Territory Islamic Council, the government and the director-general of the NRD as respondents.
On April 23, 2001, the court dismissed her application on the grounds that the issue should be decided by the syariah court. It also held that as a Malay and a Muslim, she could not convert.

She took her case to the Court of Appeal and, on Sept 19, 2005, was again turned down by a 2-1 decision. She then appealed to the nation’s highest court.”If a person professes and practises Islam, he should be following Islamic laws including his conversion or renunciation,” Ahmad Fairuz said.

“That is what is meant by adopting and practising Islam. What the NRD did was to ascertain whether Lina had renounced the religion. I do not see it as an infringement to freedom of religion as provided in the Constitution.”

On the third issue before the court, Ahmad Fairuz felt that the case had been correctly decided.In that case, Soon Singh had applied to renounce Islam and the High Court declared that jurisdiction on Islamic matters belonged to the syariah court.

The Federal Court, where the case went on appeal, also affirmed that it had no express provisions to deal with apostasy and that the issue came under the purview of the syariah court.


I never attended any of Sulaiman Abdullah’s, Pawan Chik Merican’s, Zulkifli Nordin’s and/or Zainur Zakaria’s organized events, which include PEMBELA and Muslim Lawyers Association, to explain their opposition on the case and all the cases within the same jurisprudence. Once I sat in Alumni Kelab UMNO meeting sometime last year and Assoc. Prof. Noraziah Awab presented the case on these apostasy issues. I did not pay attention. I did not even bother to read the paper she presented, which was circulated to all Exco. I simply bloody don’t give a toss about it.

However, people like my best friend did. Sometime last year, he went to the Wilayah Persekutuan mosque thingy and some other forum organised by ABIM on this issue (its so insignificant to me that I don’t actually remember when it was! – I am usually very meticulous with dates).

“15,000 people showed up at the  Wilayah Persekutuan mosque”, he always reminded me. For our friendship’s sake, I take his word for it (although I seriously doubt his accuracy on these sort of things). I keep saying to him, that I don’t understand why the loud reaction against issues like this. This is far reaching beyond the issues what and how it was presented.

Personally, I don’t bloody give a toss what people like Lina Joy wants to do with her life and her faith. But something changed my impartiality to this case.

I attended a briefing organized by some practicing lawyers who are Pro-Article 11 movement. I went there with an open mind. The opening gambit was “The Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia is the Supreme Law”. They then explained the merits and demerits of all the cases involving the issues that surround the Lina Joy case, at length.

However, they started rubbishing the learned Judges who made the decision against the interests of this group. They mock the Judges and their ruling. They used phrases like “The Syariah Court is an inferior court compared to the High Court”. They want us to respect the Constitution but they cannot respect when the Constitution was interpreted? Just because Federal Court and Court of Appeal Judges ruled and interpreted the Constitution against their interests?

That’s it! Now I have a position. I am against the Pro-Article 11 movement and ALL the cases that relate to that. In fact, I loathe the arrogance and ‘diabolical’ attempt to belittle and demean Judges who made the ruling against these group’s interests. Why? This Kurang-Ajarness of the minority is very clear now. They narrowly define, exploit, manipulate, systematically test it for loop-holes and hide behind the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia and not respect the interests of the majority.

(*addendum) Maybe they systematically want to challenge, defy and insult the Judiciary, the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia, interests of the majority (reflected on the changes brought forth by the democratically elected Government and majority that support the Government) and the position of HRH Malay Rulers as defenders of the faith in this country.

As I remember it, the law exists to protect the interests of the majority. Now that the Chief Justice has interpreted the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia, it becomes a precedence.


Published in: on May 31, 2007 at 08:36  Comments (63)  

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  1. Do correct it.

    The masjid wilayah meet last year was attended by at least 10,000, judging by one pamphlet printed for 10 k finished.

    I wouldn’t be surprise it is 12k.

    In my blog, I am asking society and particularly the men of cloth to sit and resolve interfaith issues. Not the politicians and definitely not leave to “humanity embracing” legal thugs disguising as human right lawyers. Let the respective family and we as members of society.

    This shit was brought downto us by the colonials. Otherwise, I can always revert to the Social Covenent (not Social Contract) as per in the Constitution.

  2. much has been said about this case and every single individual has forwarded their thoughts in blogs and forums and believe they are right. I expect this wont be laid to rest for a long time to come.

    aku bersyukur je keputusan tidak memihak sebaliknya dan menghina apa yg sudah termaktub dlm perlembagaan negara, dan Islam itu sendiri.

  3. as far as I see it, that comment is unconstitutional. I was once a baptised christian but I have long lost the faith. No one can force me to go back to christianity unless on my own free will.
    Its sad that the very person who is empowered to provide justice fails to do so as he allows his personal religious conviction to override constitutional right s of the individual.

    Who are you to say “Its sad that the very person who is empowered to provide justice fails to do so”????

    Just because the Chief Justice ruled a decision against your interests, you rubbish his decision? Justice is done because he is the most learned man in the legal profession and he made the final interpretation (with regards to case) to the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia.

  4. Lina Joy can go to Syariah Court and applies to leave Islam, can’t she?

  5. Salam;
    Isu sebenar adalah “kenapa boleh jadi sampai murtad tu”.
    Namun, saya tabik abang-abang semua yang bersungguh-sungguh dalam hal ini.
    Saya masih gagal dalam memperjuangkan reformasi dan peranan alim ulama hatta dalam dalam thread semudah Islam dan Bangsa Melayu di KMU satu ketika dahulu. Sayapun dah quit forum KMU di sana… susah nak perjuang isu secara ilmiah di sana sehinga terpaksa merendahkan taraf diri sendiri.
    Para alim ulama sekarang dan masyarakat Islam berada Thawilul lahm dan ghazwatul fikri.
    Sekarang, saya baharu memahami pemikiran dalam perjuangan BGDC, CWT dll.

    Perjuangan kita tetap sama. Hanya methodologi dan pendekatan sahaja yang berubah. Jika kita rasa terhad kerana prasarana, maka cari jalan untuk teruskan Perjuangan dengan cara yang kita selesa.

    Keikhlasan dan ketabahan itu lagi utama. Jangan lupa kesanggupan untuk berkorban. Perjuangan tiada makna tanpa pengorbanan.

    Terima kasih kerana memberikan sokongan.

  6. padan muka lina joy … suka2 hati mau bypass syariah court … law is a law, kena respect la … apa la yg susah sangat … kalau 17 tahun lepas dia pegi syariah court fail kan permohonan dia tak berlaku la macam nih …

  7. salam TM…

    saya bukannya pandai sngt nak bertekak dgn diorang2 ni yg secara lansung mahupon tidak menghentam Islam hanya kerana kes lina joy. walaupon pengetahuan saya cetek ttg hal agama tp sbg umat islam saya tak boleh lari dari rasa kecewa dan sedih. bukan sedih sbb lina ke gereja tp sedih ada yg bukan islam ni cakap
    mcm diorang lbh tau hukum hakam syariah itu sendiri. jadi utk lari dari baca komen2 dari blog2 seperti jef, juga rocky, saya masuk KMU to “seek solace”. seperti yg dijangka semmgnya kwn2 disana bersependapat kerana sebangsa se agama. yg pentingnya lega lah jugak baca komen mereka yg sealiran.

  8. Doing things, speaking out and making decisions based on a particular belief is very selfish. Surely, muslims will think the judgement is fair enough. You guys never think the other way round. How if someday Christian countries like USA forces muslims to convert to christian before marrying a christian? How if it happens. Think . dont just shout out loud without thinking for other people’s rights. If the constitution really works, this kind of things would not have happened.
    do not be selfish. if you work for your own belief, so do others.

    Too bad. We must respect the Constitution of the Nation. The Muslim should choose, to remain in that Christian nation and get married or go elsewhere and get married.

    Constitution of a Nation cannot be imposed onto a Constitution of another Nation.

  9. BigDogDotCom,
    You should have gone with an OPEN MIND to the ones you mentioned you were not interested to know for yourself what they were rubbishing. Why ONLY go to pro-11 lawyers session to listen.
    Your mind was already made up, there nothing in your openess.

    The arrogance and Kurang-Ajarness of the Pro Article 11 movement changed my impartiality on the matter. After listening to the lawyers and people like Ivy Josiah, then I am convinced the case was not about Lina Joy. It was them being arrogant and try to tell the world, “Hey, we are smarter. We can narrowly defined the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia and make everyone bend on us, through our wise arguments!”.

  10. Greetings Biggum,
    Embracing or leaving a religion is a very serious matter, certainly not to be taken lightly. However, it is also a very, very personal issue. Fundamentally, it is a matter between a person and his God.
    For the sake of orderly administration, it is reasonable for the government to impose a set of procedures to do so. It is NOT reasonable for the Government (including courts) to have the absolute power to say “NO” or to make it a criminal offense.

    You are right. Faith is a very personal domain and ONLY that person and God know what truly one believe, deep inside.

    However, the issue here, one person choose to go against what has been written in the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia. She knew what was the practice and yet she chose to challenge it. She was very stubborn about challenging the system and it went to the level of the Chief Justice. Also, I believe she allowed herself to used by people who systematically ‘test’ the system for loopholes and enjoy making a mock of the system and people who would conveniently use opportunity like this to do Islam bashing.

    She fully aware its not legally and socially acceptable here to do what she wanted BUT she did it anyway. She could go elsewhere and do this quietly BUT she chose to be a deviant and legally want to be acknowledged as so, with the utmost attraction to it. That’s arrogance and attitude!

    This how people like this is taught, their way! The Constitutional way!

    (BTW, at the end of the day, she is either underground or abroad, where she should be in the first place to get this the way she wanted it)

  11. Ah Big Dog,
    At least now that you have got it off your chest, you don’t have to pretend to be nice to me anymore. You don’t have to put up with my kurang-ajarness.

    Well Mr Counselor Haris Ibrahim,

    That’s how I felt about the issue. I have never hidden the fact and neither has people like you asked me about it. Now, I am stating a fact where I stand on this case and how it got there.

    Nothing personal. If I am nice to people like you or anyone, doesn’t mean I like or love them. If I despise people like you or anyone, doesn’t mean I have to be rude and impolite to them. Its not about pretending.

    Once, I have walked away from the table where you had your private forum because I felt one person there was antagonizing me and the facts I presented. I never need to pretend or be pretentious whenever I am with company.

  12. “They mock the judges and their ruling”.
    Question: How do they do that?
    “They used phrases like the Syariah court is an inferior court compared to the High Court”
    Question: How else did they rubbish the learned judges who made the decision against the interest of this group?

    Thanks for asking but I don’t feel its nice and appropriate to re-produce what these people say when they rubbish the learned judges who made decision against the interests of this group.

  13. BigDogDotCom,
    do you know why she didn’t pursue in Syariah court at the first place ? or if she has tried but failed due to certain reason ?
    If you don’t know then you are not much different from your so-called ‘group of ppl who systematically test the system for loopholes …(just that u are on the other side of the fence)’
    My another question is, why wouldn’t the muslim group (any muslim organisation) go to Lina Joy to understand her problem as to why she can’t go to Syariah court ?? if they do that and able to resolve the problem, then that would change the mindset of many many non-muslim who have been thinking that Muslim is not a way of life but a bunch of laws.

    It doesn’ matter. What matter most is that Lina Joy and people who actively supported her is challenging the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia by systematically and actively seek ‘loopholes’, for them to fulfill their ulterior motive.

    Lina Joy is now either living underground or abroad. She should have gone elsewhere and get her business done there in the first place and do away with all these. But no, she choose to CHALLENGE! So now, she deserve living underground or abroad.

  14. Tindakan Lina Joy bukannya sangat untuk menukar status agama dalam Mykad. Sebaliknya ia bertujuan mencemar dan menjejaskan kedudukan agama Islam sebagai agama rasmi persekutuan, kedudukan orang melayu dan raja-raja Melayu.
    Jika beliau hanya untuk menukar status agama, sudah tentu beliau dengan senang hati mengikut prosedur iaitu melalu Mahkamah Syariah. Jika beliau gagal mendapat keadilan di situ barulah saluran mahkamah sivil dan lain-lain digunakan.
    Pak Lah Jangan dok Tidoq saja

    Kawan amat bersetuju dengan kenyataan Anak Mat Lela Gila ini. Memang Lina Joy and rakan rakan mempunyai motif tersirat untuk mencabar, mencemar dan menjejaskan kedudukan Islam sebagai agama rasmi Negara, kedudukan orang Melayu dan kuasa Raja Raja Melayu.

  15. hello small dog USA bukan negara kristian dol … ada clausa yg jelas memisahkan krisitan dengan negara USA …

  16. tapi mmg susah nak bagi kenyataan AMLG tu masuk dlm kepala diorang yg sokong sngt lina tu. diorang akan balik2 ckp ttg civil right la, personal choice la…kalo ni blog amir lama dah aku keluarkan kata2 kesat..


  17. Bigdog

    Tahniah dari saya dan teruskan dengan keyakinan sdra, saya sependapat dengan sdra dalam kes ini, mereka-mereka ini yang kononnya memperjuangkan human rights sebenarnya adalah boneka, yang sedihnya ada antara mereka terdiri dari orang Melayu yang sudah bijak pandai namun sudah lupa akan realiti kehidupan orang melayu yang berugama Islam sebenar. Sekali lagi, Bigdog teruskan usaha anda mempertahan yang hak dan benar

  18. Thank you for being very explicit about your stand. And, your stand is not without substance, bro! Salam, bro!

    Thanks for the acknowledments. BUT you or anyone don’t have to thank me for this stand. I did not do it for anyone or any organisation. 🙂

  19. Is it true that “the law exists to protect the interests of the majority” or should it be that “the law exists to protect the interests of ALL MALAYSIANS”? In other words, should the Constitution exist as a shield to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority?
    Yes but since some cheeky smart arse clowns decided to make the agenda of the minority and challenge the feelings of the majority, through the tries of constitutional interpretations and turned the legal process into their personal circus, then the law started to be interpreted in protecting the interests of the majority. Alas, it became precedence now and a lesson for everyone, those who want to learn from it and those who refused to.

    Then there will be other clowns in another circus at another time and again the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia would be interpreted in the interests of the majority.

  20. The fact that you are against any attempt by a single individual to challenged existing system speak volume of just how backward and regressive you are. if an individual consider the present system as unfair, regardless of whether there is merit or not to her grievances, it is her right to challenge the system. there should never by an all-powerful system in the world that is beyond reproach and it not unchallengeable. and you are bullshitting yourself by claiming that the law exist solely to protect the interest of the majority. the law exist to ensure justice and fairness are available to each and every single member of society. the the true spirit of the law has always been about protecting the rights of an individual. if we goes by your definition that the law is all about the interest of the majority, then a former convicted rapists or criminals should be locked away for good and deprived of all rights because there is a high chance he or she will threaten the interests and safety of the majority again. but prevailing legal system in our country and in most democratic countries has ensured this is not to be so and that even the most hated individual has the right to enjoy benefit of the doubt and legal representation.

    Its my right to express myself and make my stand. And I wish to express my right along the way the Chief Justice said it. I don’t bloody give a toss what goes on in another country and I also don’t give a toss the feelings of minority. The minority decided to challenge the feelings of the majority and so shall the be treated in this manner.

    At the end of the day, its God who allows this to take place. No matter what people like the Chief Justice plan and feel, God has made it the decision so.

    Too bad is you don’t understand this. Then again, this is a Muslim country.

  21. there is no God. get over it.

  22. there is no God. get over it. and this is a secular country with Islam as official religion. A religion is just a religion. a set of beliefs. you are started to talk like one of the hated politicians who tell everyone to fuck off and go back to where they are from wherever they find it hard to argue in return. no wonder, those politicians remain as leaders in this country.

  23. So if majority has all the say in the world on what happens in a country, are you saying you support what the whites did to the blacks during slavery in America? Coz you see….the majority were the whites, and they were very much in favor of using African minorities as slaves in their plantations….and since the Syiah are the majority in Iran and Iraq, I guess you would also support that they can do whatever they like to the Sunnis there, including murder, torture and rape…of course needless to say, you also support what the majority Germans did to the Jews…
    So its okay for Bush to round up minority Muslims in America and put them in detention camps in Guantanamo…?
    nuke them minorities…after all…we don’t pay taxes that pay for the scholarships of the bumi students, we don’t pay taxes that support the sultans in their luxurious lifestyles, we don’t pay taxes to build all of Pak Lah’s and Dr. M’s luxurious Arab-styled buildings? Of course that means the minorities don’t do any work, simply lazing around under the sun, waiting for handouts…right? RIGHT??

    Tax is obtain whenever anyone do business in this, regardless citizen or non, a natural person or firm. When Michael Jackson and Luciano Pavarotti come for two days to sing, they still need to pay taxes too. That’s the law. Just because the minorities pay taxes, does not mean they have to be treated like gold. Foreign firms like Shell, Esso, Motorola, National Panasonic, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Citibank, IBM, Texas Instrument etc have been in this country for decades and paid RM billion of taxes and gave RM hundred of million in charities, does it mean the majority need to treat and entertain every single pettiest whims and fancies whenever they come up with?

    In this land, if you don’t pay taxes, then the State will confiscate your belongings. That’s lawful. It is provided under the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia, under Income Tax Act, Customs and Excise Act etc.

    Don’t bring issues from another land and impose it for a narrow minded arguments here. We are not stakeholders in other country’s Constitution.

    What and how Lina Joy had being treated is within the Constitution of Federation of Malaysia. The Chief Justice ruling is an interpretation of that.

  24. For God’s sake Fahrenheit which part of the law do you not understand? Secular countries have equally stupid laws that require compliance of the majority and the minority. No matter how archaic it may seem, laws based on set of beliefs or values are not in question here. Only the majority can change the law and constitution of a country, simple. Hello..not rocket science here!!

    I can’t express it better myself! Thanks …………….

  25. BigDog:
    Look, there is no need to listen to Yusri from ABIM or Haris Ibrahim or Ivy Josiah or the CJ or even me. When your anger has cleared, research it for yourself.
    Buy a copy of the Federal Constitution and look at it. As you know it is an important document. It tells you your rights and the obligations of the government. It doesn’t matter if you are a lawyer. I looked at it way before I even thought of stepping into a law lecture.
    Look at List II in Schedule 9. That tells you exactly what the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts are. Simple and straightforward. It talks about a lot of things but is silent on where a person should seek a hearing if they want to exercise their right to freedom of religion. Perhaps because it wasn’t such a huge issue back then.
    In any case, I dont think anyone can dispute that what we have witnessed is an expansion of the jurisdiction of the Shariah court. This is not objectionable per se. What is objectionable is that it has happened outside of the proper procedure.
    A Constitution is not meant to be easy to change but here it has been done quite easily. Does it not make you wonder what other rights can be taken away that easily?
    Don’t take anyone’s word on any of this. If you are serious and sincere about wanting answers. Look it all up for yourself.
    I should add that when lawyers talk about one court being inferior to another, it is not meant as an insult. It merely represents the structure of our courts as set out by our Constitution. It is legal jargon. That’s all.
    As I say, please look into it yourself and come to your own conclusons.

    Well, I heard first hand what some professional insulted Judges and the legal process on what transpired, I cannot tolerate it. I started to hv a stand from that point.

    I did. I hang around people in the legal profession, everyday. This was never about anger.

  26. BigDog:
    Fine you may not like about what some people say about one judge or another but don’t let that blind you to their arguments.
    If you say that you disagree with everything that Article 11 stands for, do you not think you may be abandoning some genuine issues and people who genuinely need help?
    For instance, Lina Joy just wanted to get married and live her life but she couldn’t because they would not recognise her marriage to a non-Muslim. In other words, she could always be caught for khalwat. Her circumstances that have forced her into this confrontational situation.

    She had the choices and she chose to challenge the system. Now that the Chief Justice has interpreted the situation, it shall be precedence for others to come.

  27. Umran,

    One cannot interpret the law, especially common law, by looking only at statutes. Statutes by themselves are very generally worded and lack precision. That is why one must also refer to case laws for clarity; any ambiguities in the law would be cleared up through the wordings of wise and educated judges.

    Furthermore, just opening the Federal Constitution doesn’t mean you can understand it — as I’ve said, you need case law and precedence (aka ‘stare decisis’) to interpret how it may be applied. (And these cases are usually inaccessible to the common laymen by virtue of the legal language being used, it’d be pretty difficult for a non-practitioner of the law to understand.)

    And by the way, phrases like “The Syariah Court is an inferior court compared to the High Court” are insulting and do not form part of the legal jargon, no matter which angle you look at it from.


    I have written a fair bit on the Lina Joy issue in my website. It should clarify a lot (or, at least, some) of the questions people have on this matter. I hope you will read and support it.

  28. I apologize for forgetting to include these two links in my above post:

    (If you could, please insert them into the above comment and delete this one. Thank you, BigDog.)

  29. ventti,

    which part of the federal law state that all Malay or person into a Malay family must be become a fucking Muslim? you fucko make this up as you go belong and for the sole reason of ensuring there is a sufficient mass of Muslim supporter for the UMNO fucked-up government and you want to talk about the law. you don’t even fucking understand the issue I brought about the law protecting the interests of everyone including the minority and you want to lecture me on law? you sound like a fucking moron. go read up on what OUR LEGAL SYSTEM is all about and its founding spirit before you bark.

  30. Lina Joy didn’t even get the chance to choose the religion he want. what justice and equality are you fucko talking about. it is not like she choose the religion and the years later, choose another. she never has a fucking choice because of some fucked-up imposition you religious fuck made up and only in Malaysia. don’t talk about someone embracing and leaving a religion at one fancy when she never have a choice to begin with. you religious fucks are the one who impose your religion on Malay and anyone who are born into a Malay family at your whim and fancy. and you wonder why people are fucking scared of marrying Malay and Islam in Malaysia… get real…

  31. Fahrenheit,

    If you want to comment on this blog, please be civilised and not use profanities. LAST WARNING!

    I shall delete ALL your comments if you cannot respect civil and matured way of discourse!

  32. focus on the messaqa, not on the language… i am weeping at the extent of ignorance..

  33. Sorry, I don’t read comments with profanities. Dunno how to!

  34. Biggum said

    Thanks for the acknowledments. BUT you or anyone don’t have to thank me for this stand. I did not do it for anyone or any organisation.

    So do i, bro! After all, i am not a member of any organisation.

  35. […] Chief Justice: “One cannot embrace or leave religion as one fancies” This was what Yang Amat Arif Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, the Chief Justice of Malaysia […] […]

  36. If Islam is the most peaceful religion, why are all these chaotic things happening? I really don’t understand that. The religion itself is peaceful until people begin to overreact about it. Religion should exist in the context of trying to bring people together, happier, joy, peace, despite the different beliefs, at the end of the day it should be teaching people what is VIRTUE all about, not ‘rights’ and ‘we are superior so obey us’ thing. Or does Islam teaches that you must push people around and make it a ‘law’? Law is a dead thing people come up with, heart is a living thing that you have in you the moment you are born.

    There exist people who profess they are Muslims, but they make effort to deeply study the Quran to systematically test it for loopholes and mock the various philosophy and principle that Islam stood for from their narrow minded and skewed interpretations. These diabolical distinguished member of society then hide behind the universally accepted values and politically deploy all the man-made instruments to legally serve as their defense mechanism.

    One cannot take the interpretation of Islam in pieces and impose conveniently in their worldly expectations in life.

    All these ‘law’ and ‘legality’ issue about Islam and how its being administered is just a reaction to someone challenging the norms and accepted values amongst the society one reside. Islam has provisions for communal position and interests and that is what actually being protected in Lina Joy’s case.

  37. “All these ‘law’ and ‘legality’ issue about Islam and how its being administered is just a reaction to someone challenging the norms and accepted values amongst the society one reside”

    this is how change and progress and advancement happen in the world. they are brought about by people who dare to challenge. by even quoting this as some though it is something evil and to be condemned just indicate how incapable Muslims are to bring about any progress and how incompatible they are to modern competitive societies. I never realise just how regressive and oppressive the general Muslims mentality are until I read this blog entry and the arguments presented here by educated, articulate but narrow-minded Muslims. sad!

  38. Just because you are not a Muslim and you do not understand the obligations of communal responsibility, you say Muslims’ general mentality are regressive and oppressive?

    I say you are narrow minded one because you only want to see Islam from your individual perspective, (too many “I”s in your point – shows self centred thinking!) where else all the Muslims defending the right of the State to this case are talking about communal obligations and responsibility. They don’t say it from their point of view, they say it with uniformity as a collective view.

  39. “In other words, a person cannot, at one’s whims and fancies renounce or embrace a religion,” he said.”
    I thought “there is no compulsion in religion”????????
    The problem is with the no “exit strategy”, once in forever in. Mafia do that to bully those who join from ever leaving.

    Islam must be treated not as “another religion”. To embrace into Islam must come into conviction and not out of convenience.

    “Exit strategy”???? A planned exit sometime in the future? Oh no! Islam as a faith cannot be treated like a corporate game! If you want in, you better think really hard about it.

  40. Wan Zafran:

    The Constitution is no mere statute. In some areas, such as the Fundamental Freedoms, it is very explicit. When Article 8 speaks of equality in the eyes of the law. It is clear. How else is that to be understood, whether by a judge or paddyfield worker.

    As an analogy it’s akin to Surah 2:256. Clear and unequivocal.

    And is it insulting to say that the Court of Appeal is inferior or subservient to the Federal Court?

    I suppose if I tagged the word Shariah to it (as in ‘Shariah Court of Appeal’) then that would be insulting?

  41. Umran,

    I am aware that the Constitution is no mere statute; however, in terms of wordings, it can be every bit as ambiguous as a piece of statute, which is why one would still need case laws to aid its interpretation.

    Concerning Article 8: it is still subservient to personal laws; thence, by virtue of Malays being Muslims, Islamic law. Please read the post on my website regarding this issue.

    Concerning the Quranic verse you quoted: I must ask, are you aware of the context (e.g. political/social situation) during which said verse was bestowed upon the Prophet? (Knowledge of context is extremely important, because it aids the comprehension of verses.) If you are not, then please, do not quote or use the verse. That’s reckless behaviour.

    If you would interpret the Qur’an literally, then you are being ignorant. Hadiths (the sayings and actions of the Prophet), and the writings/opinions of Islamic scholars and ulama(s), amongst others, are necessary tools for interpretation. You must utilize them, because the Qur’an teems with subtleties. If you would use and rely on only your (human) mind and faculties of reason (or ‘akal’), you will mislead yourself.

    Lastly, I’m quite confident that they uttered the phrase “The Syariah Court is an inferior court compared to the High Court” and meant for it to be a derogatory remark, rather than a mere legal statement.

  42. Wan Zafran:

    I am glad you mentioned ‘context’. Yes am quite aware of the context. Have written about it before in the past. One piece on freedom of religion in the Quran that I wrote will soon be published by SIS.

    But this is the crux of the matter, isn’t it?

    Does God need us to compel people to become or remain Muslim, even if only in name?

    When Abu Bakr fought those apostates it was because they took up arms against the Muslims. That is the context in which apostates were punished (i.e. not for being apostates but for treason).

    In matters of faith the Quran guarantees there to be no compulsion on anyone. Irrespective of what a Hadith may say it should not limit the Quran, or would you deny that the Quran is the inerrant and complete word of God?

    If I am not mistaken, even the current head of Al Azhar agrees that apostates are not to be harmed.

    Second, you are personally convinced that some meant it as an insult when they referred to the Shariah court as inferior. Have you bothered to ask those you are accusing or does guilt now come before innocence?

    Surely the way forward is dialogue.

    Have read your post and will comment on it in due course on my blog:

  43. Those Article 11 groups are becoming more and more kurang ajar over this issue. They even dare to challenge the supremacy of Islam in Federal Constitution. Just one message to them; They can just gotta hell with it.

    Exactly my point! The Kurang-Ajarness and arrogance simply hit my nerve! That’s when I started to be from impartial to having a stand on the issue. So many people riding and taking advantage of the case to challenge the Constitution, mock the system, demean judges and insulting the Malay-Muslims.

  44. I acknowledge that the Qur’an is complete and perfect in form. However, are you suggesting that, just because it is so, you can easily and perfectly interpret it using only the sheer power of your cognitive faculties?
    That is certainly an unreasonable claim.

    For example, the Qur’an does not teach you how to pray. Which is why, to learn how to pray, you must also look at the Sunnah — the ways of the Prophet — for clarification.

    Also, there are many other such issues that the Qur’an touches upon only generally (for example, on contracts of sale) — which would be later fleshed out through the writings/discussions of the many eminent Islamic scholars and Imams after the Prophet’s passing. (And, not to forget that even they themselves relied upon the sayings/teachings of the Prophet as their legal authorities.)

    The above reason is why relying on the Qur’an alone is insufficient; as I’ve said before, Hadiths and other such ancillary items are a crucial part of Islam. You must understand that the Prophet’s understanding of Islam was divinely bestowed, and this is why we must look to his actions, sayings and exemplary character for guidance.


    Concerning the Lina Joy case, it seems that you conveniently choose to ignore this fact: that Islam is not hindering her from leaving the religion. The main gist of the Lina Joy case is that in her wanting to leave, she is allowed to do so, however she should follow the proper procedures and go to the Syariah court to get a formal declaration of her renunciation of Islam.

    Why then is she so reluctant to go to the Syariah court? Because it is an “inferior” court, according to the understanding of her counsel and the Article 11 Movement?

    I think this Lina Joy case was never about her. Many argued she embraced Christianity anyhow and no law can contain matters of faith within the heart and soul of a person.

    Maybe some people were riding and exploiting this case to challenge, insult and defy the interests and feelings of the majority and making a mockery of the judiciary and Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia in the process. This was probably an attempt of structured and universally accepted Kurang-Ajarness. That’s why it attracted too much attention from so many NGOs, including religious groups and not to mention from abroad and far away places.

    This looks suspiciously not about Lina Joy anymore. This is an agenda that some people can politicize.

  45. Lina Joy has never been stopped from leaving Islam as the Quran and Malaysian Constitution allow it so under the freedom of religion concept.
    The issue is Lina deliberately took the wrong procedure. If she goes to the Syariah Court as being done by those who had chose to leave Islam, her case would be dealt with easily. May be she would be asked to go for a period of consultation which may take a year or so, but what is that delay compared to the 17-year that Lina had undergone.
    So Lina, just respect the Constitution since the Constitution respects your choice. Go to the Syariah Court which authority is sanctioned by the Constitution.

    Maybe it wasn’t Lina Joy after all. Some people argued she’s embraced Christianity anyhow. Maybe its the people who are riding on this case to challenge the Constitution, demonstrate their arrogance and Kurang-Ajarness systematically testing against the system, structure and the power that have benefited from the democratic system and insult the interests of the majority if ever this case were to be in their favour.

    Maybe its an agenda being sponsored by organisations and parties who wants to defy, challenge and insult the interests of the majority of this nation.

    Regardless, thank God Al Mighty the Chief Justice favoured the interests of the majority and upheld the Constitution, which was put in place by the majority in the first place.

  46. Lina Joy is not stupid. For all those saying Lina Joy should go to the shariah court, you should know that runs the risk of:

    a) her case sitting there for years like so many other ex-Muslims before her because the judges want her to give up. Remember Nyonya Tahir tried for years to get the shariah court to change her religion but it didn’t happen until she died.
    b) she detained for brainwashing – perhaps to a detention facility in Ulu Yam like Kamariah Ali.
    c) the shariah court declaring her a Muslim when she is a Christian at heart

    The fact that Muslims would even think of asking a shariah court to vertify whether a person is Muslim or not shows to me that the term “Muslim” has no meaning in Malaysia. The shariah court is not God and cannot see into a person’s heart. How can a court declare whether a person is Muslim or not.

    Furthermore, as a non-Muslim, the shariah court has no jurisdiction. The shariah court only has jurisdiction over persons professing Islam which Lina Joy clearly does not. The civil court abdictated its duties and made a mockery of itself by declaring it has no jurisdiction over a non-Muslim.

    Most probably, this is not about Lina Joy anymore.

    Most probably this about people who used Lina Joy’s case to systematically test, challenge, defy and insult the judiciary, democratically elected Government, Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia, the State, the powers of HRH Malay Rulers as defenders of the faith and the interests of the majority, all in the same stroke!

    No the civil court did not make a mockery of the system. They interpreted the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia in the spirit of how the majority would want it to be.

    The mockery is the FAILED COUP D’ETAT against the principles of the Constitution by the pro Article 11 movement and the organisations that supported them!

  47. Wan Zafran:

    The truth is that the Quran does not sanction an earthly punishment for apostates while there are Hadith (da’if or otherwise) that insist on the death penalty. Which approach is to be followed when Hadith contradict the Quran?

    I suspect we will not reach agreement on this question. Suffice it to say that we agree to disagree.

    However, on the matter of the significance of the Lina Joy decision let us for a moment forget the fact that this case concerns a person attempting to leave the faith of Islam. Let me explain to you why this decision concerns me in other important ways.

    First, there is the issue of jurisdiction. The constitution sets out the jurisdiction of all our courts, including the Shariah courts (List II, Schedule 9 for the Shariah courts). Referring to the constitution we can conclude that the Shariah courts have never been given the express authority to decide on the matter of a person’s faith. My concern here is whether the Federal Court is in a position to confer jurisdiction to the Shariah court in the way it has done. In so doing it has expanded the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts. I have my doubts as to whether this is feasible.

    Second, the issue of our fundamental freedoms. As you may know freedom of religion is one of many freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution (Art. 5 – 10 and 12 – 13 containing the rest). These constitutional rights are continually being eroded. Freedom of speech and assembly are but two other examples. The difference being that the latter two have been curtailed by statute but this one (freedom of religion) is being fettered by the courts themselves. As I have asked in my letter currently on Malaysiakini, what’s next? Meaning, what other freedoms of ours will be fettered or curtailed by the supposed defenders of our rights themselves?

    I have made no secret that I sympathise with Lina Joy’s personal predicament. However, as set out above, there are other important reasons why I believe this decision should worry all Malaysians equally.

  48. Umran,

    Concerning List II of the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution:

    First of all, you are wrong in assuming that there has been an expansion of the jurisdiction of the Syariah court. For its current form is not “expanded”, but inherent.

    Secondly, there is absolutely no express provision at all in the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 to grant jurisdiction to the civil courts to adjudicate on any aspect of Islamic law (i.e. look at Sections 22-24), more so after 10th of June 1988 when Article 121 (1A) of the Constitution was passed.

    However, the Federal Constitution confers powers to the state to enact laws relating to Islamic matters; including the passing of laws to give jurisdiction to the Syariah court to adjudicate matters regarding Islamic law, which includes — and I quote from Item I, List II, Schedule 9, of the Federal Constitution —
    “the determination of matters of Islamic law and doctrine and Malay custom.”

    Thence, by virtue of the cases of Soon Singh (Federal Court, 1999) and Hakim Lee (High Court, KL, 1998), the Syariah court has implied jurisdiction to adjudicate on matters pertaining to apostasy, because they come under the category of “matters of Islamic law and doctrine.”

    And these two cases have also been given the stamp of approval by the latest Federal Court decision in the Lina Joy case.

    As for express jurisdiction (over matters of apostasy) under state law, currently this is found in the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment 2003, Section 119, and the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003, Section 61 (3)(b)(x).


    Yes, I think it is probably better for us to agree to disagree. And from now on, if you wish to argue, please do so at my site.

  49. Wan Zafran:

    I am not here to argue, only to discuss.

    You have commented on the issue of jurisdiction, but what of the fettering of fundamental freedoms?

    I will comment on what you have to say in due course on my blog. (

    In the meantime, check out Azmi Sharom’s letter who is Associate Professor of law at Universiti Malaya:

    He confirms that both Gus Dur and the mufti of Al Azhar agree with what I have already said.

    Still ” a biased and gravely-mistaken ‘truth’ “?

  50. I typed the word ‘argue’ in haste, and I duly apologize for it.

    Oh, and I have read the article by Azmi Sharom, but I will reserve my thoughts on it. (I would be most interested if you could provide a link to where I may read the mufti of Al-Azhar’s view though.)

  51. Wan Zafran:

    Sorry, don’t know of such a link.

  52. Wan Zafran:

    Sisters in Islam have made mention of it many times. Here is one example:

    If you are keen to know more you should consider contacting Sisters in Islam.

    Still wondering if you are not at all concerned over the possibility of our other fundamental freedoms being fettered by the very courts that are meant to uphold them?

  53. I know of Sisters in Islam. (I happen to be a reader of Zainah Anwar’s weekly columns too.) However, I do not believe in their cause, more so the way they are fighting for it, hence I am not and will not be in support of them.

    Anyway, I believe that the court has been just in deciding the case of Lina Joy the way it has, and also believe that it has given fair attention to all matters of concern. I also do not worry that our other fundamental freedoms will be affected in the long run too, for I am of the belief that the court is here to protect and not deprive us of them. In that sense, my outlook is different from yours.

    Because I am not clear what ‘fundamental freedom’ means to you, I would appreciate if you could provide me your own definition of it. (And no, I do not want a link to a site, or a copy-and-paste definition from a dictionary; I just want to know how you would personally define it.) Let us compare and contrast.

  54. Wan Zafran:

    When I refer to the fundamental freedoms of Malaysians I am referring to Articles 5 – 13, Federal Constitution.

    You wanted to know where you can get a hold of Sheikh Tantawi’s views regarding apostasy. Sisters in Islam should be able to help you out there.

    See also:

  55. […] Read More: Biggum Dogmannsteinberg […]

  56. I wonder why the American’s are not so interested when the muslims are being killed or slaughtered in Bosnia, Pattani (Southern Thailand) and the rest of the world (mmm maybe there’s no oil in those country). But when it comes to Iraq, Malaysia, Iran … wonder what does this country has in common – could it be oil? Justice? Not for the poorer country without natural resources.

  57. Law Library Online

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting

  58. If a person’s living faith is between him and his God, then what does other got to do with it? It’s a personal agenda. Only hypocrites will impose law to protect, perhaps, his/her own interest. If we say that God is the Almighty, He doesn’t need to impose any law, and people will bow down and worship Him willingly…. Not law.

    God is not seeking for law, He is seeking for obedient. And true obedient cannot be found through law. How can law keep a man’s heart close to his God?

  59. […] instance was Lina Joy’s case. Bar Council took sides on an issue which is private in nature. In this case, the right of a […]

  60. […] Melayu dalam gereja dan persuratan ugama Kristian kini mula timbul. Mereka juga dengan lantang memperjuangkan hak orang Islam yang ingin murtad.  NGO juga makin pesat mengunakan platform ‘perbincangan intelektual’ untuk mengaburi […]

  61. Interesting post.

  62. […] remaja Islam keluar dari Islam dan menerima Kristian pernah menjadi kontroversi yang begitu rumit dan genting, terutama dalam kes Lina Joy. Ianya menarik perhatian terlalu banyak pihak sehingga hampir dijadikan modal politik, bagaimana […]

  63. […] In the past, Bar Council has made serious accusations to demonise the role and position of the Royal Malaysian Police in the society, which till present day they are unable to substantiate. This is not withstanding that the Bar Council is in support of Lina Joy’s application to be legally declared as an apostate, which the Federal Court decided it is unconstitutional. […]

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