Khamis, 17 April 2008

Authorities looking deeper into conversion issues

The Star, Thursday April 17, 2008

By MAZWIN NIK ANIS

PUTRAJAYA: Authorities are looking into ways on how best non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam can exercise one of their most difficult, if not important duties - to inform their family members of their decision.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that while the Government realised that making it compulsory for future converts to announce their intention to their family would make it difficult for them, it was necessary to avoid confusion and problems, as had happened in a few incidents of late.

He said that ever since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's announcement last week, the Syariah Judicial Department and the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) have been looking into ways to assist individuals planning to embrace Islam.

"I have also been discussing with the Minister in charge of legal matters, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, as to what can be done.

"We will be organising a conference next week where legal practitioners, Muslim scholars and ulamaks will converge to give their views and ideas on how best to tackle the issue," he told reporters after witnessing the handing over of duties from Jakim to Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) on halal certification on Thursday.

He said that the outcome of the conference would be used as a guideline, adding it would be determined later whether it would be best for those intending to convert to Islam to inform their families before or after conversion.

"We need to hear what the experts say. We also need to make it easy for those who need to take on the responsibility of dropping the bombshell to their families," he said, adding that the authorities were also aware that informing the family before converting could result in them being prevented from embracing the religion of their choice.

Last week, the Prime Minister had announced a new regulation requiring non-Muslims converting to Islam to inform their family before doing so, saying this would prevent problems of families disputing the conversion of their loved ones when they die.

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