KUALA LUMPUR – A forum on the “bin Abdullah” court decision took to task the National Registration Department’s (NRD) “arrogant disregard” of the Court of Appeal’s ruling against the practice of adding the surname “bin/binti Abdullah” to a Muslim child born out of wedlock.
Former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said the NRD director-general (DG) Datuk Mohd Yazid Ramli had failed to take into account the relevant considerations of the law and had offended the Federal Constitution by “withdrawing a child from the protection of law”.
“The DG, who refused to follow the court order, is viewing it like an advice from a grandmother and I don’t think he knew the consequences. It is an arrogant disregard of the court order when he said he is not going to follow it.
“If you look at the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957, there is no reference to fatwa or the word ‘fatwa’ anywhere. So he took into account irrelevant considerations. Therefore the decision is wrong,” he told the forum on the “Bin Abdullah” decision of the Court of Appeal – the impact of fatwas under the Federal Constitution” at the Bar Council today.
Gopal said those holding decision-making positions in public office like Mohd Yazid are primary administrators of the law passed by Parliament but yet failed to adhere to it.
Known for being vocal in his opinion, Gopal also criticised the High Court judge, who failed to see this.
“Now what is amazing is that the high court judge didn’t know that.
“(It is) dangerous if the judges don’t know these basic principles. Something seriously wrong with our system,” he said.
Agreeing with Gopal, academician Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who is the founder of the Islamic Renaissance Front, said NRD should uphold the Court of Appeal’s decision.
“In the case of bin Abdullah, decision of the Court of Appeal, there were several fatwas on the issue. And since a fatwa is non-binding, it is not a law and has no force of law. What more when they were contradictory fatwas and bearing in mind that this country is still secular in its nature, the decision of the Court of Appeal in my opinion should be upheld,” he said at the forum.
Ahmad Farouk said a fatwa is not binding on all Muslims but only for the scholars who issue it, especially when there are contradicting fatwas on the same issue.
“Is a fatwa binding? Nobody’s fatwas or rulings are binding on all Muslims. A fatwa is binding only to a scholar issuing it.
“It is he who considered a case, looked into all the relevant evidence and formulated his ruling on the basis of his ruling and study that is committed to it,” he said.
Ahmad Farouk said when there are two contrasting fatwas on the same issue, people should check the sources and make their own decision on which one they trust.
“There is no uniformity in fatwas. So when we look at this case, you will see that the fatwa is different from the one in Perlis compared to Jakim (Islamic Development Department),” he said.
Citing the example of female circumcision in Islam, Ahmad Farouk said Jakim says in its fatwa that it is mandatory for female children to be circumcised.
But recently Perlis said it is “not mandatory at all” for female circumcision stating that it is not advisable to do it. – The Sun