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