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Global Movement of Moderates – Crucial questions for Malaysia
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Letter to Editor

Global Movement of Moderates – Crucial questions for Malaysia

17 November 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) welcomes Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s initiative to launch the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM) in January 2012. Najib’s proposal is crucial in light of some worrying trends especially in Malaysia.

In his 13 Nov 2011 speech at Honolulu, Najib said, “It’s time for us, the majority who are peace-loving and moderate to reclaim our rightful place in the centre…we cannot afford to stand by and remain silent in the face of extremism and violence.” SIS cannot agree more with this statement. Rising threats and violence, including on religious grounds, should not become the norm among Malaysia’s diverse population. But sadly, recent incidents have shown the ugly face of intolerance and violent threats by certain quarters, including non-state organisations, major political parties and the police. These include increased threats to human rights defenders, freedom of religion and minorities.

1.      Increasing threats towards human rights defenders
Malaysian human rights defenders are increasingly targeted by both state and non-state actors. For example, lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was threatened with rape and murder by several non-state actors, and labeled an enemy of Islam in the government-owned media. Some have even called for her Malaysian citizenship to be revoked. All because she chose to lead Bersih 2.0’s calls for electoral reform, and for choosing to launch Seksualiti Merdeka in Nov 2011, a festival about gender and sexual diversity in Malaysia. A nation that aspires to lead others on “moderate” values needs to be able to address these problems in its midst first.

2.      Increasing threats towards freedom of religion
We are also alarmed at the increasing hostility towards religious minorities in Malaysia. For example, while we support Himpun‘s freedom of expression and assembly, we are alarmed by their calls for an Anti-Apostasy Act. The call for this Act is set within a highly-charged environment. For example, when Lina Joy sought to remove the word “Islam” from her identity card, both she and her lawyers were subjected to death threats by non-state actors. The government has yet to resolve these highly charged sentiments and laws regarding apostasy. A nation that aspires to “moderate” religious values also needs to address freedom of religion in constructive and compassionate ways.

3.      Increasing threats towards minority groups
We are also seeing increasing violence and threats towards minorities of different descriptions. For example, there are documented cases of violence towards Muslim transsexuals in Negeri Sembilan, perpetrated by state Islamic enforcers. There are also longstanding threats against so-called “deviant” Islamic groups, such as the Ahmadiyah in Selangor, also by state Islamic authorities. A “moderate” nation also needs to be able to cope with various minorities, even if they are despised by the self-proclaimed majority.

Thus, we call on the Prime Minister to consider these concerns in his vision for the GMM. We hope he consults with numerous groups, especially victims of extremist violence, in helping to shape this cause. Finally, the Prime Minister should ensure that our fundamental rights and liberties as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and our Federal Constitution are safeguarded and upheld.

Sisters in Islam
Irrational fear abounds - The Star - Musings
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Irrational fear abounds


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Prejudice and discrimination, both rooted in fear of the unknown, can always be dispelled with better knowledge, at least in those willing to learn.

TEN years ago the world turned a decidedly nastier place for Muslims. Although Islamo­phobia already existed before Sept 11, the events that day ratcheted it up several notches. Suddenly Muslims in the United States and all over the world found themselves under intense scrutiny, much of it hostile.

Stereotypes abounded. Although Islam is a religion of peace, all Muslims were branded terrorists, undemocratic, violent, oppressors of women.

The only images seen in the media were of angry bearded men wielding weapons and shouting threats to the West. Only Muslim women covered head to toe in dour black, were seen. It did not help that some Muslims themselves provided fodder for these images.

Tales of aggression against Mus­lims abounded. Headscarves were pulled off, insults hurled and, at airports, anyone with the slightest tinge of an Arabic name was pulled out for special inspection. Some people suffered even more violence, resulting in injury and even death.

New perspective: One of the biggest boosts to the image of Islam and Muslims has been the Arab Spring where young Muslims, including women, were seen at the forefront of the revolution. – Reuters

Sometimes entirely wrong people became victims of the prejudice. A Sikh man got shot because he wore a turban, a bunch of Orthodox Jewish rabbis were pulled off a plane because they were praying in a language other passengers didn’t understand.

Fear ruled and with it came prejudice and discrimination, much of it fuelled by the media. Most of it stemmed from ignorance about the world of Islam, which is not only large but also diverse.

A Muslim in the Middle East is culturally different from a Muslim in Asia, but that was not appreciated in much of the West. Indeed Middle Eastern Muslims comprise only 15% of the entire Muslim world. Further­more there are many Western Muslims who look and act no different from their fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq only angered Muslims, who then reacted in ways that ingrained the stereotypes about them.

The early post-Sept 11 Islamo­phobic madness only lessened when much better information and knowledge about Islam and Muslims became available. This took two forms.

One, many Muslims took it upon themselves to educate non-Muslims about Islam, and in particular reached out to other faith communities to talk about their commonalities, rather than differences.

And two, thousands of students flocked to universities to learn more about Islam. Both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars of Islam did much to teach students about the real religion, rather than the one perpetuated by the media.

Ten years later, although it cannot be said that Islamophobia has disappeared, Western perspectives on Islam have become more measured and based on better knowledge. One of the biggest boosts to the image of Islam and Muslims has been the Arab Spring.

Suddenly the images of Muslims were young, modern, and protesting not about the West but about their own corrupt leaders. Although they did not explicitly talk about religion, in 2011 the Middle East became associated with the yearning for freedom and democracy, one not too different from what developed countries enjoyed.

Women were seen at the forefront of the revolution, both head-scarved and not, and changed the image of the oppressed Muslim woman.

It just goes to show that prejudice and discrimination, both rooted in fear of the unknown, can always be dispelled with better knowledge, at least in those willing to learn. There are of course many who simply refuse to open their hearts and minds to such enlightenment, but progress has been made in incremental steps.

It is also clear that very often those who steadfastly refuse to eliminate their prejudices do so because they think it is politically profitable to them. The loudest Islamophobes always seem to be politicians trying to win the populist vote. And the only way they maintain those votes is by keeping people ignorant. Hence, their refusal to engage at all with Muslims.

Every phobia about groups of people who are different from us works in the same way. They rely on stereotypes and on the fear that allowing these minority people the same basic rights as others would mean that they would demand more.

Thus, although no Muslim ever asked for it, some people in the US insist that there are plans to impose syariah law there. The media stokes the hysteria and stigmatisation. Unjust accusations and calls for depriving them of citizenship becomes the norm.

Although those baying for blood are small in number, they still make innocent people suffer. People who have never harmed anyone else suffer distrust and hostility from their former neighbours. Violence against them is justified, sometimes with religious backing. The entire atmosphere is poisoned by hate.

This past week, where some people seem to be proudly picking on the powerless, has reminded me of that Islamophobic hysteria. I fear for our country and where we are heading.

Sisters in Islam wins international acclaim for empowering Muslim women
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Press Statement

Sisters in Islam wins international acclaim for empowering Muslim women

8 November 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) received a coveted international award on Nov 7 in recognition for promoting women’s and human rights within the framework of Islam.

The Casa Asia Award is given by a consortium made up of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, through its Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID); the Government of Catalonia, and the Barcelona and Madrid City Councils.

In his citation, Casa Asia Director-General Juan José Herrera de la Muela said, “Throughout its 21 years of life, Sisters in Islam (SIS) has opened a public space for debate in Malaysia and given voice to Malaysian women regarding their rights under Islamic law or sharia.”

Telenisa, SIS’ legal clinic, has helped many women, particularly at the grassroots level, to address legal problems in the Syariah courts. Telenisa, which started in 2003, assisted 551 clients in 2010, averaging more than one woman a day.

In 2007, SIS, launched two related campaigns. At the local level, the Muslim Family Law campaign aims to change unjust provisions in the Islamic family laws.

At the same time, SIS also initiated Musawah, which began as a grouping that included scholars and activists from around the world. Its premise was to promote justice and equality in the Muslim family.

Musawah made international headlines in early 2009 when it rapidly snowballed into a worldwide movement.

Musawah is now known the world over as a dynamic entity that gives visibility and voice to Muslim women who believe that equality in the family is both possible and necessary.

The Casa Asia Award is given annually to individuals or organisations that stand out in the promotion of dialogue, understanding and knowledge between the societies of Spain and the Asian and Pacific region.

Past recipients include Pakistani women’s rights activist Mukhtar Mai, “for her struggle for the rights of women, justice and dignity of the people of Pakistan” and Cambodia’s Kike Figaredo, “for his struggle to help and rehabilitate the victims of land-mines and for his contribution to human development”.

The 2011 Award ceremony took place on 7 November in Barcelona, Spain. SIS received a trophy and a cash award of 6,000 euro.

Representing SIS were Executive Director Ratna Osman and co-founder Zainah Anwar. They also spoke at the annual Casa Asia 8th East-West Dialogue.

Earlier this year, SIS board member Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Zainah were listed among the 100 most inspiring people by Women Deliver, a New York-based global advocacy group championing the rights of women and girls. Zainah was also chosen by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of the 150 women "who shake the world".

Sisters in Islam

Ratna Osman and Zainah Anwar receiving the Casa Asia Award 2011, from Madam Teresa de la Vega, former Deputy Prime Minister of Spain. The Director General of Casa Asia, Juan Jose de la Muela is 4th person from the right, and next to him is the Ambassador of Spain to Malaysia, Madam Maria Bassols. At the far left is Malaysian Ambassador to Spain, Dato' Ilankovan
The Malaysian Insider : Nama keluarga: Sisters In Islam gesa Putrajaya ikut langkah Terengganu
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Nama keluarga: Sisters In Islam gesa Putrajaya ikut langkah Terengganu
Oleh G Manimaran
November 07, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, 7 Nov — Sisters In Islam (SIS) menggesa kerajaan persekutuan mencontohi langkah kerajaan negeri Terengganu yang membenarkan nama bapa disertakan ke atas bayi-bayi luar nikah atau mereka lahir kurang daripada enam bulan selepas perkahwinan ibu bapa masing-masing demi masa depan kanak-kanak terbabit.

“Kami menggesa kerajaan pusat mengambil tindakan dengan segera untuk menerima pakai cadangan kerajaan negeri Terengganu bagi membolehkan Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) mengiktiraf sepenuhnya seseorang lelaki yang mendakwa (status) dia adalah bapa bersama dengan ibu (bayi), untuk menjadi bapa sah kanak-kanak dan bagi kanak-kanak terbabit membawa nama keluarganya,” kata pertubuhan bukan kerajaan ini dalam satu kenyataan.

SIS berkata langkah itu seiring dengan Seksyen 13 dan 13A Akta Pendaftaran Kelahiran dan Kematian.

Selain itu SIS percaya bahawa tidak harus ada sebarang butiran pada sijil kelahiran atau kad pengenalan untuk menunjukkan bahawa seseorang kanak-kanak itu lahir secara luar nikah bagi mengekalkan stigma yang berterusan.

SIS berkata, pihaknya menyambut baik langkah kerajaan negeri Terengganu yang sanggup membenarkan kanak-kanak yang lahir dalam tempoh enam bulan selepas perkahwinan ibu bapa mereka untuk membawa bersama nama bapanya kerana ia satu tindakan seiring dengan Seksyen 13 dan Seksyen 13A.

Laporan media baru-baru ini menyebut maklumat mengenai individu yang mengaku bapa kepada anak luar nikah kini boleh dimasukkan dalam sijil kelahiran bayi berkenaan yang dikeluarkan JPN.

Maklumat itu berdasarkan pengakuan sebagai bapa bagi pasangan yang berkahwin kurang daripada enam bulan atau qamariah dan yang tidak berkahwin dengan syarat ibu dan lelaki itu menandatangani bersama borang permohonan. Ia selaras dengan Seksyen 13 Akta Pendaftaran Kelahiran dan Kematian 1957, Seksyen 10 Ordinan Sabah Cap 123 dan Seksyen 11 Ordinan Sarawak Cap 10 dan Pekeliling 8/2009 yang telah diedarkan kepada semua JPN negeri pada Ogos 2009.

Penjelasan itu dibuat dalam kertas kerja oleh Timbalan Pengarah Bahagian Kelahiran, Kematian dan Anak Angkat JPN, Noor Azliza Shaharuddin bersama Pegawai Undang-Undang JPN, Zarifah Zulghaffar di Kuala Terengganu pertengahan bulan lalu.

Isu anak tidak sah taraf hangat dibincangkan apabila kerajaan negeri mencadangkan mekanisme bagi membolehkan anak-anak itu didaftarkan dalam sijil kelahiran dengan bin atau binti bapa bagi mengelak kanak-kanak itu menanggung tekanan emosi berpanjangan.

Menurut kertas kerja itu, tujuan memasukkan maklumat berkenaan adalah untuk memberikan taraf kewarganegaraan kepada bayi sekiranya bapa adalah warganegara Malaysia.

Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Agama dan Penerangan Terengganu Khazan Che Mat berkata, cadangan kerajaan negeri agar diwujudkan mekanisme bagi membolehkan anak tidak sah taraf atau anak luar nikah didaftarkan dengan bin atau binti bapanya tidak harus disalah tafsir dan dipolitikkan.

Menurut beliau, cadangan itu sebagai alternatif untuk memastikan golongan itu tidak menanggung bebanan emosi dan terhukum kerana kesalahan ibu bapa masing-masing.

Katanya, soal itu baru sahaja dikemukakan dalam kertas cadangan untuk diserahkan kepada Majlis Fatwa Negeri untuk dibincangkan pada mesyuarat Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan tidak lama lagi.

Dalam kenyataannya, SIS menambah, amalan mendaftar nama keluarga seseorang bayi dengan “binti atau bin Abdullah” hanya kerana dia lahir dalam tempoh enam bulan selepas tarikh perkahwinan akan membawa kepada kesan buruk yang serius dan tidak adil ke atas aspek emosi dan masa depan kanak-kanak terbabit.

“Kanak-kanak Muslim dihukum dan dilabel sebagai tidak sah atas tanggapan dosa luar nikah ibu bapa mereka sebelum perkahwinan mereka.

“Bapa biologi dinafikan untuk melaksanakan kesemua tanggungjawab keibubapaan dan memberikan kesemua hak yang perlu diwarisi kanak-kanak terbabit,” kata SIS lagi.

SIS berkata, tindakan melabel seseorang kanak-kanak sebagai “tidak sah” dan menghalang mereka segala hak sebagai anggota keluarga tidak boleh dijustifikasikan.

“Sejak beberapa tahun lalu, SIS telah menerima aduan berhubung hak kanak-kanak yang lahir luar nikah, kanak-kanak dianggap luar nikah tetapi lahir dalam lingkungan perkahwinan dan anak angkat, bukan sahaja ketika pendaftaran tetapi juga ketika memohon kad pengenalan, ketika memulakan persekolahan, apabila mereka hendak berkahwin dan selepas kematian ibu bapa mereka,” katanya lagi.

Sehubungan itu jelas pertubuhan bukan kerajaan ini, kepentingan kanak-kanak mesti menjadi keutamaan dalam proses menggubal mana-mana undang-undang, dasar dan keputusan yang boleh memberi kesan ke atas mereka.

“Prinsip-prinsip ini mesti dipertahankan oleh ajaran Islam, hak-hak asasi manusia universal dan proses membuat undang-undang Malaysia,” katanya lagi.
Respect a Child’s Right to a Name, an Identity and Family ( 6 November 2011)
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Letter to Editor

Respect a Child’s Right to a Name, an Identity and Family

6 November 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) welcomes the Terengganu state government’s proposal to allow children born less than six months after their parents’ marriage to carry their fathers’ name in accordance with Section 13 and 13A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957.

The practice of registering Muslim children's surnames as "binti/bin Abdullah" when they are born within 6 months of the date of marriage leads to serious and unjust repercussions on the children's emotional well being and their future. The Muslim child is being punished and labelled “illegitimate” for what is assumed to be the parents' sin of conceiving the child before marriage. The biological father is denied the duty to exercise all parental responsibilities and to confer all rights the child is entitled to. This National Registration Department (NRD) ruling supposedly originated  from a fatwa which states that  a pregnant woman may get married to the father of the child,  however  “the man cannot be recognized as the father of the unborn baby, the baby cannot inherit from him, cannot be his mahram (unmarriageable kin) and the man cannot be the baby's guardian.”

The Qur’an states that no one bears the burden of another, nor passes one's burden to another (Surah  Fatir 35:18). This injunction should guide us towards compassionate care and enable us to fulfil our obligation to always provide for the best interest of the child. Instead, this NRD ruling has punished innocent children, forcing them to bear the burdens of their parents’ actions.

To label a child “illegitimate” and deprive them of their rights and entitlements as a member of a family cannot be justified. Over the years, SIS has received complaints over the rights of children born out of wedlock, children conceived out of wedlock but born within a marriage, and adopted children, not just at the time of registration, but also at the time when they apply for identity cards, begin school, when they get married and upon the deaths of their parents.

The best interest of the child must be the primary concern in making all laws, policies and decisions that affect them.  This principle is upheld by Islamic teachings, universal human rights and Malaysia’s law-making process.

For example, the Quran recognises a stepmother or stepfather to be the mahram of their stepchildren (Surah An-Nisa 4:22-23). What more the biological father of a child? Using the principle of the best interest of the child, Muslim jurists allow the custodial mother to maintain custody of the child beyond the age when custody is supposed to be transferred to the father. Malaysia’s Islamic Family Law was amended in 1994 to reflect this.

The Quran in Surah al-Ahzab 33:5 also states “Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just in the eyes of God.” While this is understood to refer to adopted children, is it not possible to extend the spirit of the verse to recognise the biological fathers of children conceived or born out of wedlock?

The dominant opinion in classical fiqh relating to paternity allows a man to admit paternity of a child born out of the wedlock through the procedure of iqrar (i.e. he acknowledges that the child is his).

Some classical jurists were deeply concerned with the need to protect a child against the stigma of illegitimacy. They went as far as setting the possible duration of pregnancy as long as seven years under the Maliki school of law and four years under the Shafie school.

Thus Section 111 of Malaysia’s Islamic Family Law recognises the nasab or paternity of the child is established in the man even if the child is born more than four years after the death of the man or after divorce, if “he or his heirs assert that the child is his issue.”

Given all the social problems disproportionately affecting the Muslim community, the 1971 fatwa, which was only enforced more recently by the NRD, would lead to more emotional and social harm to the children. It will also affect their status in the family and society.

This discriminatory practice towards Muslim children violates a child’s right to a name, an identity and family, thereby constituting a violation of Article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Malaysia ratified in 1995.

SIS is disturbed by the continuing discriminatory and unjust rulings governing the personal status of Muslims in this country. There was a time when a couple could just go to a police station or the NRD and register the birth of their child. The couple’s acknowledgement that the child was theirs and the details on their identity cards were sufficient for a birth certificate to be issued with both parents’ particulars included. There was no need to produce a marriage certificate. But now Muslims are required to produce a marriage certificate as a prerequisite for the inclusion of the father’s surname on a birth certificate.

Under the original provision of the Islamic Family Law of 1984, biological fathers of children born out of wedlock could be held responsible for the maintenance of their children. But not anymore. Later amendments made mothers solely responsible for the children.

We urge the Federal Government to take steps to immediately adopt the proposal by the Terengganu state government to enable the NRD to duly recognise the man who claims parentage jointly with the mother, to be the registered father of the child and for the child to be given his surname. This is in accordance with Sections 13 and 13A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act.

Furthermore, SIS believes that there must not be any markings on the birth certificate or identity cards to indicate that the child was conceived or born out of wedlock to prevent further stigmatisation of the child.

Sisters in Islam

Hormati Hak Kanak-kanak untuk miliki Nama, Identiti dan Keluarga ( 4 November 2011)
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Surat kepada Pengarang

Hormati Hak Kanak-kanak untuk miliki Nama, Identiti dan Keluarga

4 November 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) mengalu-alukan cadangan Kerajaan Terengganu untuk membenarkan anak-anak yang dilahirkan kurang daripada enam bulan selepas perkahwinan ibu bapa mengikut nama bapa mereka selaras dengan Seksyen 13 dan 13A Akta Pendaftaran Kelahiran dan Kematian 1957.

Amalan mendaftarkan nama anak-anak beragama Islam sebagai “binti/bin Abdullah” apabila mereka dilahirkan dalam tempoh enam bulan dari tarikh perkahwinan ibu bapa mereka membawa implikasi serius dan tidak adil terhadap kesejahteraan emosi dan masa depan anak-anak terbabit. Anak-anak beragama Islam itu menjadi mangsa dan dilabel sebagai “anak haram” kerana apa yang dianggap sebagai dosa ibu bapa mereka yang telah menghasilkan mereka sebelum bernikah. Bapa kandung anak itu dinafikan kewajipan untuk melaksanakan segala tanggungjawabnya sebagai bapa, dan tidak dapat memberikan apa-apa hak yang layak diterima oleh anak itu. Keputusan Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) dikatakan berasal daripada satu fatwa yang menyatakan bahawa seseorang wanita yang hamil boleh berkahwin dengan bapa kepada anak yang dikandungnya, tetapi “lelaki itu tidak diiktiraf sebagai bapa kepada anak dalam kandungan itu, dan anak itu tidak boleh mewarisi hartanya, tidak boleh menjadi mahram lelaki itu, dan lelaki tersebut tidak boleh menjadi penjaga anak itu.”

Menurut al-Quran, tiada seseorang pun menanggung beban atau dosa orang lain, atau meletakkan beban atau dosanya kepada orang lain (Surah  Fatir 35:18). Ayat ini seharusnya membimbing kita supaya bersifat penyayang dan berperikemanusiaan supaya membolehkan kita memenuhi tanggungjawab untuk sentiasa memelihara kepentingan anak itu. Sebaliknya, keputusan JPN ini menjadikan anak-anak yang tidak berdosa itu sebagai mangsa, memaksa mereka menanggung beban atas keterlajuran ibu bapa mereka.

Perbuatan melabel seseorang anak sebagai “anak haram” atau “anak tak sah taraf”  dan menafikan hak dan kelayakan mereka sebagai ahli keluarga tidak boleh dijustifikasikan langsung. Sejak bertahun-tahun, SIS telah menerima banyak aduan berhubung masalah hak anak-anak yang dilahirkan di luar nikah, anak-anak yang dihasilkan di luar nikah tetapi lahir selepas ibu bapa mereka bernikah, dan anak-anak angkat, bukan sahaja semasa pendaftaran, malahan ketika mereka memohon kad pengenalan, mendaftar untuk bersekolah, berkahwin dan ketika ibu bapa mereka meninggal dunia.

Setiap undang-undang, dasar dan keputusan yang digubal berkaitan anak-anak, hendaklah sentiasa memelihara kepentingan kanak-kanak. Prinsip ini terkandung dalam ajaran Islam, hak asasi manusia sejagat dan proses menggubal undang-undang Malaysia.

Sebagai contoh, al-Quran mengiktiraf ibu atau bapa tiri sebagai mahram anak-anak tiri mereka (Surah An-Nisa 4:22-23), apatah lagi  bapa kandung anak itu sendiri. Dengan berpegang pada prinsip memelihara kepentingan kanak-kanak, para fuqaha Islam membenarkan ibu yang membesarkan anak itu mengekalkan hak jagaan anak tersebut walaupun selepas usia anak itu melebihi umur hak jagaan yang harus dipindahkan kepada bapanya. Undang-undang Keluarga Islam Malaysia dipinda pada 1994 untuk mencerminkan peruntukan ini.

Surah al-Ahzab 33:5 dalam al-Quran juga menyatakan yang bermaksud, “Panggillah mereka mengikut (nama) bapa mereka: ini lebih adil di sisi Allah.” Walaupun ayat ini dianggap merujuk kepada anak-anak angkat, tidakkah prinsip ayat ini boleh diperluaskan lagi untuk mengiktiraf bapa kandung anak-anak yang dihasil atau dilahirkan di luar nikah?

Pendapat dominan dalam fiqah berhubung dengan nasab membenarkan seseorang lelaki mengakui nasab anak yang diragui kelahirannya melalui prosedur iqrar (iaitu dia mengaku anak itu adalah anak kandungnya).

Sebilangan para fuqaha amat prihatin tentang perlunya anak itu dilindungi daripada stigma anak haram. Mereka sanggup menetapkan tempoh kehamilan sehingga tujuh tahun mengikut mazhab Maliki dan empat tahun mengikut mazhab Shafie.

Justeru, Seksyen 111 Undang-undang Keluarga Islam Malaysia mengiktiraf nasab anak itu pada seseorang lelaki walaupun anak tersebut dilahirkan lebih daripada empat tahun selepas kematian lelaki itu atau selepas perceraian, sekiranya “lelaki tersebut atau warisnya mengakui bahawa anak itu adalah tanggungjawabnya.”

Memandangkan banyak masalah sosial yang membabitkan masyarakat Islam, fatwa 1971, yang hanya dikuatkuasakan baru-baru ini oleh JPN, akan mengakibatkan lebih banyak kemudaratan emosi dan sosial kepada kanak-kanak. Ia juga akan menjejaskan status mereka dalam keluarga dan masyarakat.

Amalan diskriminasi terhadap anak-anak beragama Islam melanggar hak kanak-kanak untuk memiliki nama, identiti dan keluarga, sekaligus melanggar Artikel 8 Konvensyen Hak Kanak-kanak yang diratifikasikan oleh Malaysia pada 1995. 

SIS memandang berat peraturan dan ketetapan berdiskriminasi dan tidak adil yang berterusan berkaitan status peribadi umat Islam di negara ini. Pada suatu ketika dulu pasangan ibu bapa boleh terus pergi ke balai polis atau pejabat JPN untuk mendaftarkan kelahiran anak mereka. Pengakuan pasangan itu bahawa anak itu adalah anak mereka dan butir-butir maklumat dalam kad pengenalan mereka sudah memadai untuk mengeluarkan sijil beranak yang lengkap dengan butiran maklumat tentang ibu bapa anak itu. Mereka tidak perlu menunjukkan sijil nikah mereka. Tetapi sekarang rakyat beragama Islam perlu menunjukkan sijil nikah sebagai prasyarat untuk meletakkan nama bapa pada sijil beranak.

Di bawah peruntukan asal Undang-undang Keluarga Islam 1984, bapa kandung anak-anak yang lahir di luar nikah boleh dipertanggungjawabkan untuk membayar saraan anak-anak itu. Namun, hal ini tidak berlaku lagi sekarang. Pindaan-pindaan susulan kemudiannya menjadikan para ibu bertanggungjawab sepenuhnya ke atas anak-anak mereka.

Kami menggesa Kerajaan Persekutuan mengambil langkah segera supaya menerima pakai cadangan Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu bagi membolehkan JPN mengiktiraf lelaki yang mengakui dirinya sebagai bapa bersama dengan si ibu, didaftarkan sebagai bapa kepada anak tersebut, dan anak itu dibin atau dibintikan namanya. Ini selaras dengan Seksyen 13 dan 13A Akta Pendaftaran Kelahiran dan Kematian.

Di samping itu, SIS berpendapat bahawa tiada sebarang tanda patut diletakkan pada sijil beranak atau kad pengenalan yang menunjukkan anak itu dihasil atau dilahirkan di luar nikah, demi mengelakkan stigma pada anak itu.

Sisters in Islam
Seksualiti Merdeka: Sisters in Islam kecam tindakan polis
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Seksualiti Merdeka: Sisters in Islam kecam tindakan polis

UPDATED @ 10:37:06 PM 03-11-2011
November 03, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Nov – Pertubuhan bukan kerajaan Sisters in Islam (SIS) dengan mengecam tindakan keras pihak polis mengharamkan program Seksualiti Merdeka, yang dikuatkuasakan serta-merta hari ini.

Dalam satu kenyataan dikeluarkan hari ini, kata SIS, pihaknya menganggap ia satu lagi bentuk tindakan menapis dan menghalang aspek kebebasan bersuara, berhimpun dan berkongsi idea dengan bebas di Malaysia.

“Kami juga prihatin berkenaan kaedah pengharaman yang hendak dikuatkuasakan.

“Adakah, misalnya, ada perintah pengharaman satu-satu festival? Bagaimana pihak polis hendak menguatkuasakan pengharaman ini?” kata beliau dalam satu kenyataan dikeluarkan hari ini.

SIS berkata sementara pihaknya faham yang ada Muslim yang membantah idea menghormati kepelbagaian gender dan seksual, sebagai pertubuhan membela kaum wanita mereka tidak bersetuju dengan kaedah digunakan untuk menghalang idea-idea ini.

“Kami sendiri berhadapan dengan laporan-laporan polis hanya kerana mempersoalkan prosedur-prosedur jenayah syariah ke atas wanita, dan penerbitan kami yang membincangkan impak ekstremisme agama ke atas wanita Muslim pernah diharamkan oleh pihak berkuasa,” kata SIS lagi.

Sehubungan itu kata SIS, pihaknya kecewa kerana Seksualiti Merdeka berhadapan dengan nasib intimidasi dan pengaiban yang sama.

“Kami meminta rakan-rakan Muslim agar menggunakan kebijaksanaan apabila berurusan dengan isu-isu dibawa oleh Seksualiti Merdeka.

“Kami juga meminta pihak berkuasa agar memastikan keselamatan dan sekuriti mereka yang terlibat khususnya penganjur, sukarelawan dan penyokong Seksualiti Merdeka,” kata pertubuhan ini.

Dalam pada itu, Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) menyambut baik pengumuman pihak polis mengisytiharkan pengharaman semua aktiviti Seksualiti Merdeka.

Sehubungan itu Presidennya

Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin berkata, PKPIM memberi amaran kepada pihak penganjur supaya akur dan membatalkan festival yang bakal diisi dengan forum, ceramah, bengkel, pelancaran buku, pameran seni dan persembahan ini dengan segera dengan mengambil kira desakan dan tentangan keras yang telah dibuat oleh banyak pihak yang membantah penganjuran program songsang ini.

“PKPIM juga meminta supaya pihak penganjur untuk memohon maaf kepada semua rakyat Malaysia kerana ia jelas sama sekali bertentangan dengan norma budaya dan realiti kehidupan beragama yang berlandaskan kepada nilai ketimuran yang wujud di Malaysia. “Penganjuran program seperti ini juga boleh mengakibatkan penularan sindrom kekeliruan dan kecelaruan jatidiri sebagai seorang individu di samping memberikan imej dan gambaran yang buruk kepada Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara yang berpegang kepada prinsip Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan dan Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan yang terkandung di dalam Rukun Negara dan agama Islam sebagai agama rasmi Persekutuan,” kata beliau.

Tambah beliau, PKPIM juga mempersoalkan bagaimana festival ini boleh berlangsung pada tempoh yang lama sehingga dijadikan program tahunan di tempat yang sama semenjak 2008 sehingga mendapat tajaan dan sokongan daripada pihak-pihak tertentu termasuklah Majlis Peguam, Amnesty dan International Malaysia.

“PKPIM bimbang dengan adanya kebebasan ini disalah guna oleh sesetengah pihak untuk membawa fahaman songsang dan keliru.

“PKPIM juga mengingatkan kepada pihak kerajaan dan polis untuk turut bersikap tegas dalam mengharamkan penganjuran konsert artis gay Elton John pada 22 November ini yang sebenarnya turut mengandungi unsur-unsur yang boleh merosakkan akhlak, budaya negatif hedonisme dan moral masyarakat dan ianya sama sekali tidak sesuai dengan kehidupan masyarakat di Malaysia apatah lagi sangat bertentangan dengan ajaran agama Islam,” kata beliau lagi.
Press Statement : Sisters in Islam opposes ban on Seksualiti Merdeka
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Press Statement

Sisters in Islam opposes ban on Seksualiti Merdeka

3 November 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) strongly disagrees with the police's blanket ban on Seksualiti Merdeka. We see this as yet another pattern of censorship and banning of freedom of expression, association and the free circulation of ideas in Malaysia. We are also concerned at how the ban is going to be enforced by the police force. Was there, for example, a court order to ban the festival? How exactly do the police intend to follow through this "ban"?

While we understand that there are Muslims opposed to ideas of respecting gender and sexual diversity, as a Muslim women's organisation, SIS disagrees with the methods used to stifle these ideas.

We ourselves have been subjected to police reports simply for questioning syariah criminal procedures on women, and our publication discussing the impact of religious extremism on Muslim women was once banned by the authorities. We regret that Seksualiti Merdeka has fallen prey to the same kind of state intimidation and harassment.

We call on fellow Muslims to exercise compassion and wisdom in dealing with the issues brought up by Seksualiti Merdeka. We also call on the authorities to ensure the safety and security of all those involved in this, especially Seksualiti Merdeka's organisers, volunteers and supporters.

Sisters in Islam
The Star : More and more splitting up
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More and more splitting up


Are Malaysians getting married for the wrong reason? Sunday Star examines why the divorce rate is soaring.
THIS time it will be “Happy Ever After”, lawyer Nora* had resolved when she made her new marriage vows.

She was determined to make her second marriage work after her first one left her broken-hearted and feeling small. And Nora truly believed that she had finally met her Prince Charming. That is until a few months into her marriage, he revealed his “first” love – alcohol.

The divorce ultimatum is too freely used. They are using the word too loosely. —PROF DR SARINAH LOW ABDULLAH
“For 10 years, I held on because he did not cheat on me with another woman, and when he was sober, he was loving and good to me. He was also a good father to our children,” she shares.

As they passed the decennial milestone of matrimony, however, his drinking got worse.

“He even started raping me and was emotionally abusive. He became violent and abusive even in front of my children. That was the last straw,” she says.

Nora filed for divorce at the Syariah Court but its response left her speechless.

“Until today, I cannot get over how incredulous it was. They told me, Minum arak bukan satu alasan untuk penceraian (Drinking is no reason for divorce),” she recalls.

The court and her husband asked her to withdraw her divorce proceedings.

“I was very unhappy but I thought I’d give it another shot for my children,” she sifts through her painful memories.

“For another six years, I suffered quietly. I felt like I was in a dark, deep pit and every time I tried to climb out, the wall would collapse on me. I looked at my children and decided that I had to leave him for their sake. I was so unhappy and it was starting to affect them.”

It was different for Amri*. Feeling that it was time to get married when he turned 29, he proposed to an old friend whom he thought “fit the bill”.

“We were not strangers and she comes from a good family. What was important was that my parents approved,” he says.

It was not long before he realised that they were just not compatible.

“She was really a perfect wife, she did everything to please me but I could only find fault with her. She started getting on my nerves for no reason.”

He then decided to call it quits.

“I thought that it was pointless to stay married and I did not want to be unhappy for the rest of my life. And I was still young, so I thought that who knows, my soulmate might still be out there,” he says.

His divorce proceedings went through without a hitch and he even got his family’s support. Still, he admits, most of his friends, close relatives and colleagues, could not understand his reasons for wanting a divorce.

“Some thought I took my marriage vows too lightly, others thought I was lying and had a mistress. Then there were those who thought I was gay! They don’t understand that I just wanted out,” says the 30-something finance executive who claims that he is contented being single for now.

Amri cannot imagine what would have become of him if he had stayed on in his “unhappy” marriage.

“And that is why I cannot believe that the Kelantan government is mulling over imposing heavier penalties like whipping or jail sentences for couples who divorce ‘without valid reasons’. What is a valid reason for divorce, anyway?”

Collateral damage: A divorce will also affect a couple’s children who are often left to suffer in silence.
Tough action

As the State Women Development, Family and Health Committee chairman Wan Ubaidah Omar stated, stringent enforcement and heavier penalties for those who divorce “with no probable reasons” would help keep the divorce rate down.

However, the Kelantan State Assembly failed to define what they meant by “no valid reason” for divorce.

True, Malaysia has been plagued by a high number of divorces in the last few years, with Kelantan notching the fourth highest number of cases in the country.

According to the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), 27,116 divorces were registered in 2009, up from 17, 749 in 2005. Divorce among non-Muslims has also spiked, from 2,938 cases in 2009 to 7,900 cases last year, according to the National Registration Department.

However, divorce among Muslims makes up 82% of total cases in the country.

Various reasons have been cited as the cause of divorce, with irreconcilable differences (defined by Jakim as disrespect towards spouse), communication problems, selfishness, laziness, unwillingness to help and psychological issues topping the list.

The other reasons include health, social, sexual and financial problems, irresponsibility, third-party interference, religious background and cultural differences.

There are many reasons for divorce, says chartered psychologist with the Health Research Development Unit at the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, Prof Dr Sarinah Low Abdullah, and it is usually specific to the couple.

“There is no one particular reason for divorce. Sometimes it is many reasons that are compounded, and divorce is the only answer. Sometimes a person just grows up and realises that the marriage is no longer what he or she wants and the only way out is divorce,” she says.

Each relationship is unique, she opines.

“It depends on what each person wants from the relationship – some people want to be controlled. Some couples fight all the time but if you take that away, they will be unhappy.”

The problem is, she warns, divorce has become the “first” straw for many couples, especially the young.

“The divorce ultimatum is too freely used. They are using the word too loosely.”

As she explains, people today feel that they can handle anything.

“If they fight with their spouse, they will say – ‘ok, if you are not happy with me, we can go our separate ways. I’ll be okay on my own’.”

This is compounded by the strains of modern life, she adds.

“Right now in our society, we need both parties to work, you need a double income to live comfortably or cope with family expenses, so couples are always tired and don’t have the energy or time to spend with each other. This can lead to communication breakdown and it will affect the relationship.”

Many are not willing to invest time to work things through. Those who do, meanwhile, often do not know how to, Dr Sarinah highlights.

“I strongly believe that communication is key in any relationship, not just marriage – how to address issues, how to deal with problems by talking through things and facing them head-on instead of just giving up on them or keeping them bottled up. I believe that if you want to prevent divorce, we need to teach young people all these skills.

“More importantly, we need to teach them what to expect in a relationship and marriage,” she stresses,

“We need to enlighten couples about what will happen in five years, 10 years or 20 years of their marriage and teach them how to deal with it.”

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil concurs.

To reduce the number of divorce cases, the authorities need to look at ways to help strengthen family ties instead of focusing on punitive measures, she has said.

In addition to the pre-marital education course, Shahrizat proposes intervention programmes to improve the quality of family life, including attaining a work-life balance and allocation of paternity and maternity leave.

More crucial, says Shahrizat, is to strengthen the system to protect the rights of women and children when divorces happen.

“Many of the complaints we receive at the ministry revolve around issues with the payment of nafkah (childcare expenses) to spouses.

“When a divorce happens, it is often that the children’s welfare is neglected,” she says.

Dealing with divorce

Local women’s group Sisters in Islam (SIS) agrees that punitive measures are not the most effective way to deal with the rising number of divorce among Muslims.

However, it concedes that the fact that divorce is “too easy” for Muslims is one contributing factor to the spike.

As SIS executive director Ratna Osman points out in a press statement, the 1994 amendments to the Islamic Family Law created a loophole that allows the court to approve the pronouncement of talaq (divorce) without permission of the court if it is satisfied that the talaq is valid according to Islamic law.

“This has led to a rising number of men divorcing their wives at will, sometimes even without the knowledge of the wife even though the offending men may be liable to a fine of RM1,000 or six months’ jail.

“The divorce will still be registered and validated by the Islamic court,” she notes, citing research conducted by the Women’s Centre for Change in Penang (WCC) which showed that within two years of the amendment, the number of men who pronounced talaq outside the court was more than three times those who applied for divorce through the courts.

SIS proposes that the state religious authorities revert to the original provision in the Islamic Family Law Act and Enactments of 1984, which requires that all applications for divorce must go through the court.

“This will put a stop to Muslim men unilaterally divorcing their wives without just cause, which has contributed to the much higher divorce rate among Muslims in Malaysia.

“This will also ensure women and children are guaranteed of their rights under the law, which includes the woman’s right to muta’ah (financial compensation) and division of matrimonial assets and the children’s right to maintenance,” adds Ratna.

Ultimately, says Dr Sarinah, not all marriages can be saved.

“Sometimes, the couples know that they don’t want the marriage anymore, so nothing can be done to save it. You try to counsel them to reconcile but they just cannot reconcile, so you have no choice but prepare them for divorce. Anyway, for some couples, it is better for them that they split.”

This can be seen in another growing phenomenon in Malaysia, says Dr Sarinah, in which more women are initiating divorce.

“But is it the fault of women? No, although they initiate the divorce, it is because they know their rights, they are saying – ‘Don’t mess with me, I know my rights’,” she notes.

Writer Dina Zaman, one of the people behind Wibawa Women, a Facebook support group for women going through or have gone through troubled marriages, agrees that sometimes it is better for women to walk out of their marriages.

Many people now get married for the wrong reason – pressure to settle down, religious reasons, social status, double income, she highlights.

Or sometimes they just marry the wrong guy.

“So, why should they stay in a bad marriage for the rest of their lives?”

Nik Elin Nik Rashid, another mover of Wibawa Women, agrees that divorce is a personal thing and should not be regulated.

“You have a right to be happy in your life, I am not going to grow old leading an unhappy life.

“For a woman who is living with a man who is not good for her, why should she bear with it when she could have a second chance, a better life out there.

“A woman might have made a first mistake (in her choice of a partner), she will make a second mistake by staying on.”

Nik Elin believes that there will be a lower number of divorces if women know their rights in a marriage.

“I think there will be fewer divorces if men realise that women now know their rights and are not willing to tolerate abuse and mistreatment. It will keep men on their toes.”

(* Not real name)

> Next week: Know your rights in marriage and divorce.


Respond to Seksualiti Merdeka with wisdom
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Respond to Seksualiti Merdeka with wisdom

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is concerned that Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia president Datuk Ibrahim Ali has characterised sexuality rights festival Seksualiti Merdeka as a “threat to security” (Malaysian Digest, 31 Oct 2011).

As a Muslim women’s organisation, we agree with Datuk Ibrahim that many Muslims are opposed to affirming sexual diversity or granting rights to sexual minorities. However, we are also aware that there are many Muslims who engage in events such as Seksualiti Merdeka in order to gain a better understanding of gender and sexuality in society. This dialogue, especially on thorny issues, is important for all Malaysians in our quest to understand how to manage diversity and disagreement in civil ways. As Allah says in the holy Quran: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom (hikmah) and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best.” (Surah An-Nahl 16:125)

Furthermore, the reality is that sexual minorities in Malaysia, especially Muslims, are vulnerable to numerous abuses by state and community actors which often threaten their very lives. Surely there must be a more humane way forward even among Muslims such as Datuk Ibrahim who are opposed to inclusive sexuality rights.

Nevertheless, we are heartened that Perkasa has not declared that it will shut down or disrupt the event for now. In fact, it would be a positive step for Perkasa to air its concerns and seek to address them through civil and public discussion.

Sisters in Islam
Petaling Jaya
1 Nov 2011
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