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Before conversion to Islam...

Friday, September 18, 2009-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------I was clearing up my office mailbox and came across the below. It is long but I suggest you to read it with an open mind AND especially if you're dating a Muslim, interested in a Muslim or want to or am married to a Muslim.

No right to inheritance

8 Jul 09 : 8.00AM

By Deborah Loh

PETALING JAYA, 8 July 2009: There is no avenue for a deceased Muslim convert's next-of-kin to lay claim to his or her estate, as civil laws like the Distribution Act 1958 do not apply to the Muslim deceased, lawyers said.

Instead, the estate goes to the Muslim treasury, Baitulmal, which is meant to distribute the assets among poor Muslims, hence denying the right to inheritance among non-Muslim family members.

In response to the High Court judgment that Mohan Singh a/l Janot Singh was a Muslim and his religion at the time of death should be determined by the Syariah Court, lawyers told The Nut Graph that legal amendments to address the distribution of a convert's estate are imperative.

What happens? When a non-Muslim dies without a will, the estate is divided among the next-of-kin subject to the Distribution Act.

But for a deceased Muslim, his or her estate is subject to the Islamic laws of faraid (Muslim inheritance and distribution law). Under such circumstances, non-Muslims are prohibited from inheriting Muslim estates, and vice-versa. This is under the Syafie school of thought, which Malaysia adopts for its Islamic laws.

The law has yet to be tested in respect of a deceased Muslim convert who has a will, says lawyer Balwant Singh Sidhu, who represented the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. The council was a respondent in the judicial review involving Mohan's religious status.

"When the Distribution Act was enacted in 1958, nobody thought of converts because there were few at the time. Since this Act applies to non-Muslims only, and Muslims are covered by syariah enactments on inheritance, what about converts who drew up their will when they were non-Muslims?" Balwant said in a phone interview.


No rights

The absence of specific laws to address the peculiar scenario involving a convert has led civil courts to side with Islamic laws that prohibit non-Muslims from inheriting the estate of Muslims.

Balwant referred to the case of Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan v. Lim Ee Seng in 2000, where the High Court dismissed a wife's claim to her Chinese Malaysian husband's estate because he had converted to Islam.


The wife had commenced proceedings for the Letters of Administration documents that authorise a court-appointed administrator to manage her late husband's estate but the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council stepped in to lay claim to the inheritance.

Balwant noted that the Shah Alam High Court, in declaring its judgment on Mohan's case, did not address his next-of-kin's rights to inheritance despite the matter being raised in submissions.

The appeal against the High Court's decision has already been filed at the Court of Appeal, and Balwant said he would raise the matter of inheritance rights during the hearing.

Need to amend laws

In the case of Mohan, whose Muslim name, according to his conversion certificate, was Mohammad Hazzery Shah Mohan Abdullah, Baitulmal will be the beneficiary of his estate.

The Muslim treasury in Selangor is managed by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais).

Lawyer for Mohan's family Rajesh Kumar said Mohan did not make a will, and as a Muslim, his estate will not be governed by the Distribution Act but by Islamic law.

Besides his sisters and stepfather who are Sikh, he leaves behind a wife and daughter who are non-Muslim, and from whom he is estranged.

"Laws definitely need to be amended to ensure the next-of-kin are not deprived of their rights. In respect of converts, the law also needs to be clearer, such as having the next-of-kin present so that they can acknowledge that the conversion took place," Rajesh said in a phone interview.

Mais's lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla, when contacted by The Nut Graph, said the religious council was discussing Mohan's estate this week, and that he would only be able to comment further next week.

Religious council's discretion

K Shanmuga, who also represented Mohan's family in the High Court, said although the non-Muslim next-of-kin had no legal rights to a convert's inheritance, the state religious council could decide to "donate" a portion of the deceased's estate to the family at its discretion.

He said to his knowledge, this has happened once, so far. It was the case of a firefighter in Malacca whose family received RM100,000 or half his estate, 13 years after his death.

The firefighter, Abdul Wahid Lim Abdullah, had died on duty. The family only discovered his conversion to Islam after his death.

In 2005, the Malacca Islamic Religious Council (Maim), in response to his family's plight, then decided to donate half the estate to help them make ends meet.

In the case of Mount Everest climber M Moorthy, it was out of public pressure and his brother's compassion that his widow S Kaliammal was able to receive Moorthy's estate.

Kaliammal's solicitor at the time, A Sivanesan, told The Nut Graph that the widow received an initial RM100,000 as a gratuity, and after Moorthy was promoted to sergeant posthumously, she also received his pension in full and continues to do so.

Sivanesan Moorthy's two properties which went to his brother, who became Muslim through marriage, were later given to Kaliammal, but only after the brother obtained the agreement of the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council.

"This was an exceptional case and is definitely not the norm. It was exceptional because it shook the whole nation and drew international attention, so the government had to be seen as liberal," said Sivanesan, who is also a Perak DAP assemblyperson.

"The authorities cannot act like this on a case-to-case basis because each case has a different scenario," the still-practising lawyer said. He added that there were more cases involving the conversion of one spouse but with different circumstances, which had not been highlighted to the media.

"The government must study all the different scenarios and make changes to the laws," Sivanesan said.

Wartanegara Posted: 8 Jul 09 : 10.07AM

Jais or Mais appear out of no where when the so-called converted is dead and gone for good to snatch the body away from the family. Why can't they inform the family of the conversion before [the converted] dies or the moment he/she converts? Why not make it mandatory to have their family members as witness. Religion helps humans be better persons. It guides us to the right path but here, religion is [causing agony] to the families. Denying their share [of inheritance] and [causing them agony] them during the funeral. IS this what we call religion? Or is it [that] in Malaysia, it is practised like this?

Arion Yeow Posted: 8 Jul 09 : 10.18AM

I am completely appalled. Mais is nothing more than a bunch of thieves preying on widows and orphans.

GOINGKOOKIES : 18 September 12.33PM

I concur with what's been said. If a non-muslim so decides to convert, a notice should be given to his/her family first and an acknowledgment from family should be received before the conversion is allowed. It is only fair and the right thing to do.

I chose to post this although it may be a controversial issue as there are MANY who are converting to Islam nowadays. Alright. It's your choice, your decision. True. BUT if you want to ever make such a choice, don't be stupid about it, ensure that you make an INFORMED choice!

Don't come over and say that I am being a busybody. Go google this, there are MANY reported and unreported cases of non-muslims finding out after their spouse's or family member's death that they had converted to Islam and suffer the consequences of not inheriting anything. In fact, if a child is below 12, they will be taken away and placed in a Muslim family!!!

If you arre in love with a Muslim or thinking of marrying one... think about your loved ones such as your family even if estranged, think about how your conversion will affect others. Don't be selfish to ONLY think of yourself and let your so called love or emotion over rule your thinking.

And don't make a decision to convert just to spite or hurt a certain party. At the end of the day, the joke will be on you when you want to convert out and you can't!


DISCLAIMER: This is not meant to incite any racial disharmony nor to appear as an attack against any religion nor race. It is just my humble opinion that it should be made aware to people out there!!


Posted by goingkookies at 12:24 PM

Labels: conversion, Mulims, religion, Sivanesan Moorthy

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