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Sikh man asks Kuala Lumpur court to declare he has never been Muslim and Sharia won’t apply to him, Islamic Council steps in to say only Sharia court can decide: Details

In his appeal, he said that Islamic law does not apply to him as he is a Sikh because his Muslim convert mother raised him a Sikh. However, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) has appealed to dismiss the case without being subjected to a trial arguing that only the Sharia Court has the authority to determine the religious status of the man.

A strange case of identity crisis of a Sikh man has come to light in Malaysia where a man who was raised as a Sikh approached the civil court for a declaration that he has never been a Muslim. However, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) has appealed to dismiss the case without being subjected to a trial arguing that only the Sharia Court has the authority to determine the religious status of the man.

In his affidavit filed in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on 4th December 2024, the Sikh man asked the court to declare that he has never been a Muslim. As per the affidavit submitted by the applicant, his mother passed away on 17th November 2007. Initially, she was a Sikh woman who converted to Islam to get married to his father, who was a Muslim from Pakistan. The wedding took place on 8th August 1993. The applicant was born on 25th June 1996. The mother did not raise him as a Muslim but as a Sikh and he learned all the Sikh customs in his childhood from his uncle.

In his appeal, he said that Islamic law does not apply to him as he is a Sikh. He said, “To this day, I still practice Sikhism and regularly visit Sikh temples with my uncles and family and also celebrate all Sikh religious festivals and events such as Vaisakhi, Gurpurab, Akand Paath, Bandi Chor Divas, and Lohri. I have never willingly professed Islam at any point in time. I have never prayed in the Muslim faith or visited a mosque. I have never celebrated any Muslim festival or adopted any Islamic beliefs, including consuming only halal food or beverages and fasting. To the contrary, I would usually be vegetarian whenever I visited the temple or before a Sikh festival.”

Cutting Item 1 under “List II-State List” of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, he argued that Islamic laws apply to persons willingly professing Islam. He said, “Throughout my life when called upon to make an oral declaration of my religion of choice, I have always answered ‘Sikhism’. I state that the general reputation of me among my friends and family is that I am a Sikh. I also state that although I was forced to take Pendidikan Islam in school, I did not sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination and instead discontinued my studies as I was not interested in taking Pendidikan Islam as a subject in the SPM examination. Based on my understanding and appreciation of Sikhism, I truly have faith in the beliefs and doctrines of Sikhism, and I regard Sikhism as my only path to spiritual well-being, peace of mind, and personal happiness. I intend to maintain my faith and beliefs in Sikhism and continue to acknowledge and practice Sikhism. I cannot, and will not, under any circumstances retract or abandon my Sikh religious beliefs or embrace any other religion. I also cannot and will not adopt any other belief system or doctrine. I uphold my right to practice Sikhism as guaranteed under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. This is also a human right as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations as well as various other human rights instruments.”

In his application, he contented that the way MAIWP and the Government of Malaysia have interpreted Islamic law could land him in trouble and would result in a violation of his rights and interests as a Sikh. He emphasized that he could be prosecuted and convicted in Sharia Court merely because he followed Sikhism and religious enforcement officers could investigate, detain or arrest him. Being a Sikh, he eats and drinks in public during Ramzan, refuses to pay Zakat, drinks alcohol, and is alone in a house with a woman, all of which could land him in trouble.

He added, “Further, I cannot marry my non-Muslim partner who is known, loved, and cherished by me. As a result of this, I am still unmarried and cannot have legitimate children. I also state that when I die, my remains will be taken by the officers of the Muslim religious body for burial by Islamic funeral rites, not respecting my wish to follow Sikh religious funeral rites. I also assert that I cannot bequeath or dispose of by will, any property in my possession, in the event/at the time of my death. Instead, my property will be managed through an Islamic religious council in a way that is contrary to my wishes.”

The application submitted by MAIWP to dismiss the case is set for hearing on 30th September.

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