The High Court in Malaysia has rejected a 57-year-old woman’s attempt to challenge the shariah court’s decision on her application to renounce Islam.
The woman was born a Christian but converted to Islam to get married in 1995. After 18 years of marriage and three children, she and her husband divorced in 2013. Following the divorce, she filed an application before the shariah high court to renounce Islam, citing her desire to return to her original faith.
The shariah high court rejected her application in 2020, a decision that was affirmed by the shariah appellate court this year. The woman then applied for judicial review with the civil court, seeking to overturn the shariah court’s decision.
However, Justice Quay Chew Soon said civil courts have no power to hear renunciation cases. “The issue of conversion, be it into or out of Islam, concerns the principles of Islamic faith and creed.
“It necessitates the determination to be made by those who are truly knowledgeable and understand the religion to its depths,” he said in his grounds of judgment dated 2 August. Quay also pointed out that Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution takes away the civil courts’ power to hear cases from the shariah courts.
“The shariah court’s decision remains until it is declared that she is no longer Muslim,” he said.
It is understood that the woman has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision.
While she remains under shariah law, it is likely the Islamic religious authorities will closely monitor her movements, making it difficult for her and her children to go to church or be involved in any kind of Christian activity. Unless there is a change, when it comes time or her children to marry, they will not have the freedom of choice to marry whom they wish.