Monday, December 11, 2006


Let us be honest. In Malaysia, no one is forced to become a Muslim. Whatever the reason for the conversion, no convert who having voluntarily embraced Islam, could not later claim he did not know the consequence of his conversion. In fact having embraced Islam voluntarily one expects him to be a good practicing Muslim.

The problem with some is that after having embraced Islam, they then either keep their new faith shrouded in secrecy or worst of all continue to follow the practices of former religion, sometimes brazenly open. Infact, many family members only come to know of the loved one’s conversion at death. That is when the problem arises. That is when the body tussle between the family and religious authorities begin.

Much of this could have easily been avoided if he had been honest, forthcoming and informed his family members of his conversion. By shrouding his conversion and keeping this as a dark secret, family members on his death instead of mourning his death, invitingly and inevitably become embroiled in a body tussle when religious authorities make a claim for his body. This is not only distressing for his family members but also brings religion and particularly Islam into open conflict.

All too often family members caught in such a situation proffer claims that the deceased during his lifetime continued to eat pork, drink alcohol or participate in non-muslim religious ceremonies. It must be remembered that these are not grounds to show that he had “renounced Islam” or had not been following his new faith. His actions would merely at worst make him a “bad” Muslim but never an apostate.

If he had embraced Islam voluntarily then family members must acknowledge his new faith and more importantly accept the fact that he must be buried according to Muslim rites however painful and distressing it may be.