Hindu family broken up, wife accused of being a Muslim
The ugly face of religion has surfaced again in Malaysia. You can get the details at Lim Kit Siang's blog. The family of an Indian Hindu rubber-tapper, Marimuthu s/o Periasamy has been broken up by the Selangor state Islamic Department (JAIS) who says that his wife is a Muslim because she was adopted by an Indian Muslim family when she was young. His wife though, has never practised Islam but practises Hinduism instead. The Islamic department intends to separate the family and place the wife and children in a rehabilitation center.
This is simply outrageous. A rehabilitation center? Do all Hindus have some kind of disease that they need to be cured of? Does it make sense for the state to break a family up and cause trauma and distress just to uphold some outdated and intolerant religious law? Is there religious freedom in Malaysia anymore?
The sad truth is that in Malaysia, Islam has precedence over all other religions. If you are a Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, you are free to practise or renounce your religion, but if you or your spouse or your parents have the slightest involvement with Islam, you lose your civil religious rights. Any disputes will be handled by the Islamic court under Islamic laws instead of the civil court.
Anyway, I'm not here to debate the law, but I'm more concerned with issues of ethics. We should not see this as an Islamic issue and therefore it should be governed by a different set of rules. Why should Muslims be treated any differently from other religions? The universal declaration of human rights says that everyone is born free and equal without distinctions of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
If a Hindu and a Christian can live together as husband and wife, why can't a Hindu and a Muslim be allowed to live together? And if a Christian can choose to become a Muslim, why can't a Muslim become a Christian? Why does individual freedom of choice disappear whenever a particular religion is involved? Why should the rules be different simply because you believe in Prophet Muhammad instead of Jesus Christ or Lord Shiva? Also, why does the Islamic Department need to resort to such aggressive tactics? Aren't there less distressful ways to handle this case? Isn't religion supposed to promote peace and harmony, not wreck havoc?
I know many rational, moderate, Malaysian Muslims will sympathize with Mr. Marimuthu's plight and feel that the family should not be broken up over weak allegations of his wife's religion. It just goes against our innate sense of human dignity and rights. The problem is, they are not doing enough to oppose the state religious department. By keeping silent, they are in fact protecting these fundamentalists actions. Quoting Richard Dawkins, "The time has come for people of reason to say: enough is enough."
Technorati tags Malaysia, religious policing, Islam