Convert someone only when he truly believes

Last minute conversion while a patient is dying is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Ask anyone who has worked in a hospital before, they will tell you this. Sometimes when a person is very ill, there will be certain religious workers (not from the dying man’s faith) coming to visit him , comforting him and perhaps even praying for him . Sometimes the dying person is asked to pray together with them. Often this is done when the dying man’s relatives are not around.

SO when the person dies, a dispute can sometimes occur. Those workers will come forward and claim that the dead man has embraced their faith at the last minute, and very often it is their words against the relatives words.

When a person is very ill, he might not be in the right frame of mind to decide whether he should stick to the faith that he has believed all his life, or changed to the faith that those preachers are preaching. Very often he would allow these people to pray for him out of courtesy , out of apprehension of death or,  simply,  he is so ill he does not know what is really going on around him.

 It is really inconceivable to think that a person will abandon something that he has believed all his life all of a sudden and embraced the new religion. It is also inconceivable that he can understand and believe in something within such a short time.

When there is a dispute arising out of this, the people that suffer most will be the spouse and the family. Just look at the photograph of Gan’s widow that I posted yesterday. All religions profess compassion. No religion would want to cause  such great sufferings and sadness to the family . It is only the action of the overzealous followers of religions, who may just follow the form but not the true spirits of their religious teachings, that is causing so much of sufferings and bitterness.  God would not condone this.  God would not want a family to be separated, either in life or in death.

A reader who is also a fellow blogger under the name of “A True Malaysian” said it all.

I feel miserable with this kind of thing happening. When a husband passed away, irrespective of what his religion or belief, his body should rightfully goes to the custody of his wife / family. This is only fair.

What kind of funeral rite to be performed over the body should be decided by his wife / family, definitely not by third party.

By all means pray for the dying person. By all means do all the good deeds to help him. But if ever he wishes to be converted in his death bed, please let the family know in advance.

It would be better to try to convert someone when they are healthy and kicking, so that they are in the right frame of mind to decide whether there is anything in the new faith for them to abandon their old faith and convert.

 To convert someone just for the sake of converting or for the sake of statistics is not what God wishes. If you wish to convert someone, you must make sure that he really understands and fully believes in the teachings of that particular faith. Otherwise, you may keep his body there, but his heart will be somewhere else. This is not what religion is about.

The world will be a much better place if only we remember a simple teaching from Confucius: Do not do onto others what you do not want others to do onto you.

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How do you feel ??

ganwidow.jpgGan Eng Gor’s widow when Gan’s body was taken away.

My eyes became moist when I saw this picture. I just could not help it, because we are all humans with feelings.

 How do you feel??

Documents of the alleged conversion

I wish to post here a few scanned documents regarding the alleged conversion of the Late Gan Eng Gor.

I urge the readers of this blog to go through these documents carefully and make your own conclusion, bearing in mind that the late Gan had been paralysed for 2 years as he had a severe stroke in 2006 according to the letter by the family which was published in an earlier post today. The conversion was alleged to have taken place on 3rd July 2007.

gan-5.jpg   click to enlarge

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pls read this:

A mechanism is needed to prevent conversion controversy

A mechanism or a law is needed to prevent conversion controversy

The Gan family conversion controversy is not an isolated case. There were many cases before this, and I am sure there will be more cases in future. There is really a need for a mechanism or a law to prevent such misunderstanding arising from alleged conversion.

I have always stressed that to prevent any more of these cases happening, there must be a law to compel anyone who wish to convert to Islam to inform the spouse and the immediate family of his conversion, before such conversion can be officially performed.

I am re-posting an article which I have written on this issue dated June 10th 2007. This article was published as a letter in Malaysiakini and NST in June 2007.

          Inform the spouse when a person converts

After all the letters and views expressed recently in media such as Malaysiakini on the issue of conversion , I suggest that the government should enact a law to inform, as a matter of courtesy and an obligation under the oath of matrimony, the spouse of a person wishing to convert to Islam.

This law must specify that when a person converts to Islam, it should be made compulsory to inform his or her spouse and his/her spouse should sign a statement before an officer of law acknowleging that he or she has been informed.

There should also be a period of , say, 2 weeks between informing the spouse and the actual conversion, so that the couple can have a heart to heart discussion on the matter. This is necessary because any conversion will have a direct impact on the spouse regarding the status of children, the inheritance, the burial and so on.

This will avoid a lot of confusion or misunderstanding like in the case of the Mt Everest climber Moorthy Maniam, a Hindu bybirth but buried as a Muslim in 2005.

Islamic administration officials”acquired” the body after a headline grabbing tussle for it with Moorthy’swife Kaliammal, saying he had secretly converted to Islam.

Kaliammal disputed the claim and asked the court to declare her husband a Hindu, but the court instead said since one party is a Muslim the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

By making it compulsory to inform the spouse, at least the spouse will be given a choice whether to seek seperation from the other party or follow the partner’s path and be converted as well.

I would like to think that if you believe in a certain faith, you should let your family members know and not keep it a secret. What is there to be secretive if you really believe what you do is right?

Please also read:  a letter from the Gan family

                             Another Burial Controversy

                             Documents of the alleged conversion

A letter from the Gan family

This is a letter,  taken from the blog ‘A journal of my life’, from the Gan family regarding their father the late Gan Eng Gor.

Letter from Gan Hok Ming on behalf of Gan’s family seeking justice for their beloved father. Please take note on the points that i have highlighted

Justice and Fair play for the family of Gan Eng Gor (deceased)

1. Our father was seventy‐four (74) years old. He suffered a severe stroke in 2006. He was immobilized, bedridden, mentally unsound, cannot speak, partially deaf and has very poor vision.

2. We transferred him to stay with one of our brothers in Klang. Our aged mother looked after, bathed and fed him. She also helped to look after our nephews and nieces.

3. Our father died on 20th Jan 2008. As Gan Hock Seng (the eldest son) is a member of the family, we informed him of our father’s death. He was then told us that our father is a muslim, we were shocked and did not believed him. So we continue to perform the wake service as our father have never led a muslim life. The Majlis Agama officers came and attempted to snatch the dead body, all our family members more shocked and angry, we resisted and strongly protested against the removal of our father’s body.

4. We obtained his alleged conversion papers from Majlis Agama the second day.

5. We were advised by our solicitors that there are serious irregularities in the said conversion papers especially the Declaration of Conversion into Islam.

a). The declaration was before a Pegawai Ukhuwah. His rubber stamp was on the paper but that officer did not sign.

b). Further there was no signatory at the certification column.

c). There was an illegal alteration on the date to 3rd July 2007.

d). The thumb‐print was questionable as we are certain that our deceased father was in Klang and not at the address No. 451, Taman Megaway, 70400 Sikamat, Seremban as stated in the application form.

e). His address stated in the Borang Perakuan Memeluk Islam is No: 1272, Jalan TBK 6/2, Taman Bkt Kepayang, 70200 Seremban, the residence of the eldest son. We wish to state that our father has never resided at this address.

f). The Majlis Agama Authorities claimed that our deceased father made an oral declaration in Arabic accepting the Muslim faith. Our family has medical confirmations from three doctors that our father was unable to speak.

g). We were asked to appear before the Syariah Court Seremban, we believe the Syariah Court is for Muslims only.

h). We refused to attend at the Syariah Court on a matter of principle as non‐Muslims. We refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

i). The Syariah Court made a unilateral declaration that our father is a Muslim and is to be buried in accordance to Muslim rites.

j). We filed an application at the High Court Seremban to adjudicate on the validity, authenticity,veracity and legality of the conversion paper especially the declaration of acceptance into Islam.

k). The High Court Seremban dismissed our application on the ground that he has no jurisdiction to hear this matter as the subject matter falls within the purview of the Syariah Court. We beg to differ.

l). We were indeed shocked and aggrieved at the simplistic way the High Court disposed off this matter. We only seek justice, fair play and to find out the truth on his alleged conversion.

10. The eldest son Gan Hock Seng converted to Islam years ago. Our father and mother had strenuously opposed his conversion.

11. This eldest son had allegedly converted our father without the knowledge of our mother and all other seven siblings.

12. Further, the eldest son had NEVER taken care of him physically and financially. He hardly visited him too.

13. Even if the eldest son had converted our father, we like to ask :

i). Why is it that he did not take care of him and brought him to stay in his house to lead a Muslim life?

ii). Why did he allow our father to continue living in a non‐muslim home in Klang ? Our father had never prayed and continued eating pork and other non‐halal food. He never revealed to anyone that he has converted to Islam.

iii). Why he as a Muslim, did not ensure that our father (if he had been indeed converted) led a Muslim life ?

iv). Why is it that the Agama Islam authorities did not visit and follow up with our father – the alleged new convert, after his conversion?

14. We believe we have been unfairly treated by our eldest brother and the Agama Islam authorities in this alleged conversion of our father. If there had been a conversion, we firmly believe that the Agama Islam authorities should have informed all members of the family. There should not be a fight over the body of dead person. There should be dignity and respect on the dead person.

15. We hope the PM and the higher ups in the Islamic Authorities review this case and to ensure that the truth is unraveled. We hope that all conversions to Islam is fair and transparent and made known to all the next of kin of the convert.

We Seek Justice, Fair play and Truth in this matter.

From
Gan Hok Ming for and on behalf of the family members of Gan Eng Gor (deceased)
Date: 25th January 2008

Pls also read this:

A mechanism or a law is needed

Another burial controversy

Documents of the alleged conversion

Another burial controversy

Another depressing news about religious affairs in Malaysia was reported yesterday in Malaysiakini, titled: Man buried as Muslim amid conversion row.

I will post an exerpt from the article:

An elderly ethnic Chinese man has been buried as a Muslim after his Buddhist family lost a battle with the Islamic authorities who said he had converted, his son said today.

Police seized the body of Gan Eng For, who died on Sunday aged 74, after his oldest son – himself a Muslim convert – said he had switched to the religion last year.

Other family members said Gan could not have converted because he was senile and paralysed after suffering two strokes.

“He could not even move his arms or talk,” his other son 42-year-old Gan Hock Sin told AFP.

“It is shocking that Islamic authorities say he recited some Islamic words when he was being converted last year,” he said.

If what the family said is true, the old man has had 2 strokes and was unable to move and paralysed, then how could he have been converted last year?

I do not know whether the Religious authority has any proof of conversion. If there is no proof , then it really boils down to one’s words against another. If that is the case, then it really menas that this thing could happen to anyone of us.

This piece of news not only shocked us, it has been reported in overseas papers. I willquote one of the papers, The Taipei Times, which published the following article today:

Controversy after Buddhist buried as Muslim in Malaysia
AP, KUALA LUMPUR
Saturday, Jan 26, 2008, Page 4
An ethnic Chinese man was buried as a Muslim following a court ruling, triggering angry protests yesterday from his family, who said he was a Buddhist and had never converted to Islam.

It is the latest in an increasing number of interfaith conflicts that have raised tensions in multiethnic Malaysia. About 60 percent of Malaysians are Muslim Malays and most disputes that have landed in court ended against non-Muslims, who feel their religious rights are under threat.

An Islamic Shariah High Court in the central Negeri Sembilan state ruled on Thursday that Gan Eng Gor, 74, also identified as Amir Gan Abdullah, was a Muslim and should be buried under Islamic rites. The burial took place late on Thursday in Negeri Sembilan.

The man’s body was seized by police on a complaint by his eldest son, Abdul Rahman Gan, a Muslim convert. He claimed his father had changed his religion from Buddhism to Islam last July.

His other family members disputed the claim and the case was sent to the Shariah High Court.

Judge Mohamad Nadzri Abdul Rahman said he ruled in favor of the eldest son because Amir’s wife and seven other children, who had disputed the conversion, were not in court on Thursday to present their arguments.

Gan Hock Sin, another son of the dead man, said the family did not go to the Shariah court because they felt it was unfair to hold the case there.

“It’s not fair for us. I don’t know how they say he converted. My father couldn’t even talk [before his death],” Gan said.

“Unfortunately we feel the way they do [these conversions] is not fair for non-Muslim people. The government should be more transparent,” he said.

He said the police had seized the body when the family was carrying out Buddhist rites in a Chinese funeral parlor.

The family had asked the state’s civil High Court to hear the case, but a judge ruled he had no jurisdiction in the matter as the Shariah court had already made a decision, said a court official, who declined to be named.

Malaysia has a dual court system for civil matters with secular courts for non-Muslims and Shariah courts for Muslims. In interfaith disputes, involving Muslims, the Shariah court usually gets the last word, making a decision in favor of non-Muslims less likely.

The latest case follows one earlier this month in which Islamic authorities claimed a woman’s body, arguing she had converted to Islam.

  Pls also read:

 a letter from the Gan family

documents of the alleged conversion

Self denial mode still

Yesterday’s Oriental Daily (Chinese paper) carried 2 photographs of Batu Caves, one taken 2007 and one this year on Wednesday, both during the Thaipusam Festival. From the pictures , it was clear that the crowd at Batu Caves was smaller this year.

Malaysiakini also carried a report titled: “Hindu dovotees boycott Batu Caves” , in which it was reported that the crowd was much smaller and the place was not so crowded as previous year.

But the ‘supreme’ Indian leader was still in self denial mode and boosting that this year’s crowd is the biggest ever.

It would have been much better for him to admit that the crowd is much smaller because there is really many problems facing the community and waiting to be solved. It would have been good for him to acknowledge these problems and pledge to solve these problems within a given time frame. It would have won him a lot of points if he just turned humble for once.

There are lots and lots of problems with the community. This is the truth.

Other Barisan parties like IPF and Gerakan have been active the past month  meeting Indian community leaders to try to help solve their problems, but this ‘supreme’ Indian leader is still in a self denial mode. I don’t know whether his grassroots are telling him the true situation on the ground, or he has simply been numbed by years of being at the very top.

If a person is in a self-denial mode and  he does not acknowledge that there are problems, how can the problems be solved? It is so simple even a primary student will understand. But too many years of power may have corroded a person’s conscience, and when you are walking in the power of corridor and hearing nothing else but praises, you become arrogant and feel like God. It is sad that some of our leaders have reached this stage.

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