The issue of ‘Murtad’ (apostate) has become alarmingly disastrous; and unless some concrete remedial measures are formulated, it would bring about dire consequences, because of its sensitiveness among Muslims. Always the reason and the argument cited by an apostate (murtad) is that he is now a grown-up adult ─ a major ─ and that he has full freedom to choose his own way of life, as per Constitution. Yes! Constitution allows freedom of religion, but this expression ‘freedom of religion’ has been misinterpreted and misunderstood by a would-be apostate, and many others! This expression only means that, one is free to practice his own religion without hindrance; without causing sensitiveness to others. An apostate claims that he, as a major, can think for himself; make whatever decision by himself; and profess any religion that he chooses.
At face value, this argument may seem logical and sensible. But, applying this same argument at its face value, let me put this question:
Let us say, a man enrolls in the army. He does so willingly by his own choice ─ without any other’s persuasion or force. After a couple of years, let us say, he is disenchanted, loses his interest in the career, becomes frustrated. One fine day, he disappears ─ deserts! He joined the army on his own free will! Now when he deserts on his own free will, will the army let him go? Certainly not! Ask any army personnel! He will be traced, caught and court-martialed, and finally punished appropriately. Why is this so? Being a grown-up man, why is he not allowed to act freely as he wills? Why is that nobody argues that he is constitutionally protected to make his own choice? No sensible person would raise such a question because knowledgeable persons know that military laws and regulations overrule constitutional civil rights.
Likewise, every institution, every organization, every society has its own laws and regulations to safeguard its own interest and integrity. If anyone were to do anything contravening the regulations, disciplinary action is taken against him, and appropriate punishment carried out. No one can claim that, being a major, it is his right to act as he wills, and even if he appears in the civil judiciary court, his case would be thrown out because civil judiciary court cannot intervene institutional rulings.
To illustrate further, I cite a few more examples:In our country, one is not allowed to smoke in the public places such as hospitals, clinics, modes of public transport etc. One is not allowed to indulge in prostitution, Muslims are not allowed to gamble at all; others too are forbidden except in approved places.
Can anyone claim that being a grown-up, one can act as he wills and do those that have been forbidden? No sensible person would say so! In other words, any action by anyone, which bears negative influence on others in the society, is not accepted. This is the accepted norm of any society in any country.
The issue of an apostate (Murtad) is solely and purely an Islamic issue. Islamic law says that once you are a Muslim you remain so throughout life. Islam does not allow any Muslim to go out of the fold of Islam ─ FOR ITS OWN VALID REASON. No man has the right to question the validity and sensibility of the established law ─ established by Allah SWT Himself and revealed by Him through Al-Quran:
“And if they revert to enmity, seize them and slay them, wherever you may find them.” (Surah An-Nisa: 89)
It is the Islamic concept that only Islam can give ‘peace’ ─ solace (salam) to Man in this world and the Hereafter. Hence, to protect its members of the fold of Islam from straying away into the wilderness, Islam advocates such strict laws.
A good example can be illustrated here:
A boy attends school regularly. After a few years, due to bad influence from unhealthy associations, he suddenly stops schooling and absconds. Being ignorant of the values and benefits of education, he decides to take a different route ─ which to him appears to be good (but is it good?). Would the parents simply sit back and let their boy do what he likes? Any sensible person would not do so! They would immediately act ─ for the good of their child. They would try to locate the boy ─ even if it means seeking the help of the police. Finding the boy, they would bring him back to his home, advise him, counsel him, make him understand the value of education, and finally send him back to school. HE IS TAKEN BACK TO THE PLACE FROM WHERE HE RAN AWAY ─ FOR HIS OWN GOOD.
What if, he stubbornly refuses to go back to school? The parents apply for him to be forcibly admitted into ‘Boys Home’ ─ to educate him under custodial care!
In the same way, a Muslim, due to bad influences, may wrongly decide to leave the fold of Islam ─ due to his ignorance. His parents and the Islamic society would not sit back and let this person venture into his doom. It is the parental duty and social duty of Muslims to get him back, educate him, and make him realize the unpardonable mistake that he would be making by becoming an apostate ─ just for the sake of his worldly pleasures.
Should he be stubborn, it would then be only correct to put him under custody and give him sound, relevant knowledge to make him realize that these worldly comforts and pleasures are only trivial; only to be followed by never-ending unforgivable torments and torture in the Hereafter ─ for forsaking Islam!
Some may say that this is ‘brainwashing him’. Yes! It is brainwashing ─ washing away the dirt and filth that has accumulated in his brain through bad influences and associations, so that his mind becomes pure and clean to realize the Truth, because it is Muslims’ belief that:
“Islam is the true religion revealed by Allah in Truth, and in Truth has it (Quran) descended.“(Al-Quran 17:105)
Hence, since the issue of apostasy is purely an Islamic affair, it is absolutely improper and unlawful for anyone to go to civil judiciary courts, to declare that he is getting out of the fold of Islam. And, civil courts do not have any rights to hear cases that are purely Islamic; just as a civil court does not have any right to hear any case of a Muslim caught in a ‘Khalwat’ offence. I do not know who set the precedent of hearing a purely Islamic offence of apostasy in a civil court.
Just as cases of ‘Khalwat’ and divorce of Muslims are dealt only by the Shariah courts; cases of apostasy should also be heard in Shariah courts only, since this is entirely an Islamic issue.
Any request by a would-be apostate made to a civil court should be rejected outright. And, no quarters should raise any question regarding this; because as I have explained, this is solely an Islamic issue. Others have no right whatsoever to debate or interfere in the laws formulated by Allah SWT Himself or question the eligibility and validity of Shariah courts in the matters that would greatly affect the sensitiveness of the Muslims.
I sincerely hope that relevant authorities, such Pusat Islam and Pejabat Agama of the various states, hold talks with Law Ministry and Attorney General’s office to straighten out all irregularities in the existing procedures pertaining to apostasy.
No new laws need to be gazetted because this solely an Islamic issue, to be dealt with in an Islamic way through Shariah courts. It would suffice to make all parties understand that in future, civil judicial courts have NO POWER whatsoever to hear petitions from would-be apostates. Shariah courts are the only avenue to hear cases of apostasy ─ just as other Islamic issues. Verdicts of Shariah courts would be final and cannot be challenged in civil courts, since Shariah laws are beyond the scope of civil judiciary system. Any such challenge would only provoke the sensitivity of Muslims ─ as has happened in other countries leading to undesirable chaos and troubles.
Shariah court must make the would-be apostate clearly understand that it cannot in any way rule in favour of his request and let him go out of the fold of Islam ─ because it would be then contravening the laws of Quran which are supposed to be firmly upheld only by Shariah courts. It can direct him to be placed in a proper institute for counseling and guidance until he realizes the Truth.
At the moment, all the Muslims in the country are greatly emotionally stirred, thinking that the government is not paying due attention to protect the interests of Islam although it is the official religion of the country. Only such remedial measures such as that I have mentioned would appease the Muslims and, it is really comforting to note from newspapers that Pusat Islam has now taken positive steps to intervene and correct the loopholes in the judicial procedures regarding apostasy.