KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 ― The Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association has called for Muslims to be exempt from certain parts of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA) that are said to clash with Shariah provisions.
The group has also demanded Putrajaya to amend the Act to “respect Islam”, questioning its constitutionality by claiming that issues regarding child legitimacy and inheritance to be under the purview of state governments instead.
“I urge the Federal Government to amend this Act to respect Islam as the religion of federation … and exempt Muslims from parts of the Act that are against Shariah laws,” its president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said in a statement.
“All provisions regarding child legitimacy that are against Shariah laws must be amended to not apply on Muslims,” he added.
Zainul also claimed that the court should not have made the decision solely based on the stigma and psychological effects against illegitimate children.
“Such decisions will invite more polemic among the society where the issue of inheritance, child illegitimacy and others will become harder to prove in court,” he said.
In 2003, the National Fatwa Committee declared that a child conceived out of wedlock (“Anak Tak Sah Taraf”) cannot carry the name (“tidak boleh dinasabkan”) of the person who claims to be the father of the child, if the child was born less than six months of the marriage.
But yesterday, Justice Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli reportedly asserted that the National Registration Department (NRD) director-general is a civil officer and that he is bound under civil law, meaning the NRD should have referred to Section 13A (2) of the BDRA for any decisions relating to a child's surname.
The ruling could effectively allow all Muslim children born out of wedlock to finally bear their father's name.
In making the court ruling, Justice Abdul Rahman said the NRD director-general is not obligated to apply, let alone to be bound by a fatwa issued by a religious body such as the National Fatwa Committee.