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Saturday, October 15, 2011

No Malay Christians says latest census

islamic state

There are 2.6 million Christians in Malaysia and not a single one of them is a Malay convert, or apostate, according to the latest population census released by the Statistics Department earlier this year.

The once-in-ten-years census, taken in 2010, is the most comprehensive since the first one done in 1970.

For the first time, the census features extensive reporting on religion demography.

In fact, ten percent of its population tabulation is devoted to population distribution according to religion and ethnicity.

islamic stateThe total population including non-citizens in 2010 is 28.3 million. Malaysian citizens consist of Malays and other Bumiputeras (67.4%), Chinese (24.6%), Indians (7.3%) and Others (0.7%).

Islam is the most widely professed religion in Malaysia (61.3 %) followed by Buddhism (19.8%), Christianity (9.2%) and Hinduism (6.3%).

According to the census, there are 14,191,720 Malays and each and every one of them is enumerated as a Muslim. There are no Malay adherents in any of the seven other religions in the census. Therefore, there are no Malay Christians, murtads or apostates.

As far as the Statistics Department is concerned, a Malay is always a Muslim. That sits very well with the definition of Malays according to the Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution. So a Malay cannot profess anything else except Islam.

What happens if Malay respondents to the population census give their religion as anything else other than Islam? This is unlikely. This is because the civil law courts are known to have thrown their cases out or would not even consider to hear them out.

The Syariah courts usually won't either. So they remain as Muslims and are so reflected in the official statistics.

NONEWhat if they insist they have left Islam? They would probably be arrested and sent to the Pusat Permulihan Aqida, the state funded faith rehabilitation security centres.

What if they refuse to recant? The population census does not entertain such questions.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his memoirs - ‘A Doctor in the House' (left) - points out: "I just could not imagine any Muslim forsaking his religion. He may not be much of a practising Muslim but his commitment to Islam surely cannot be shaken."

But this may not be so. For instance in a recent report by the Universiti Tecknologi Malaysia (UTM), it said apostasy among Malays Muslim is a serious issue, especially among youth.

Black Metal

The report also highlighted "rumours" that Malay-Muslims youngsters or adolescents are tempted to change their religion. They include those who are involved with groups which are visibly contradictory to Islam such as the Islamic Creed, Jangan Ikut Tuhan or JIT (Do not follow God) and Black Metal.

It cited the mufti of Perak, Dr. Harunsani Zakaria as saying that about 250,000 Muslims have converted to other religions of which about 100,000 Malay Muslims have declared themselves to be Christians.

Harunsani's claim has since been discredited. But the fact remains that an unknown number of Malay Muslims have left the faith, although not necessarily to become Christians.

Apostasy among Malays is not confined to the young or conversion to Christianity. For instance, Daud Mamat (62), Kamariah Ali (51), her late husband Mohamad Ya and Mad Yacob Ismail (62) are Malays from Kelantan who have renounced Islam.

The four apostates were arrested in 1992 and charged in the Kelantan Syariah Court for teaching "deviant practices inconsistent with Islamic teachings" and sentenced to jail.

In a long drawn out trial, they were also charged with contempt of the Syariah Court for refusing to attend repentance classes which were part of their earlier sentence.

NONEThey were each sentenced to three years of rehabilitation at an Islamic Rehabilitation Camp. They took their case all the way up to the apex Federal Court and lost.

But there are instances when Muslims were allowed to leave Islam.

For instance, the Syariah Courts have allowed 135 out of the 686 who had applied to leave the faith between 2000 to 2010, Jamil Khir Baharom (right), the minister in charge of Islamic affairs in the Prime Minister's Department told Parliament at the last sitting. He did not, however, say whether Malays were involved.

Official statistics may show there are no Malays who have converted out of Islam despite evidence to the contrary. Jais, the Selangor Islamic Department, have its own reasons to be vigilant lest more Malays leave Islam.

But it must not resort to vigilante action as it did recently when it raided a church in pursuit of suspected Malay apostates. Though the Sultan of Selangor has exonerated them, Jais has been reminded to act in accordance to the law.

Otherwise others, in this case Christians, may be left to suffer the collateral damage of their mindless actions.

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