Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 29 (3) Sep. 2021 / JSSH-8145-2021


Legal Literacy for Muslim Converts in Malaysia

Mohd Al Adib Samuri and Azlan Shah Nabees Khan

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 3, September 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.3.12

Keywords: Civil law, conversion Islam, freedom of religion, human rights, Islamic law, legal empowerment, legal literacy, Muslim convert, religious conversion

Published on: 27 September 2021

Many Muslim converts in Malaysia are not well-informed of their rights and the legal implications of conversion to Islam. Implementing legal pluralism, particularly the different sets of personal laws that apply to Muslims and non-Muslims, sends the converts, their non-Muslim families, and the religious authorities into bitter legal battles whenever an individual converts to Islam. Furthermore, as religious institutions currently offer no legal literacy program, some Muslim converts are unclear regarding the course of action they should take whenever legal issues are involved, especially from the aspects of identity change; civil marriage dissolution; matrimonial properties distribution; child custody and guardianship; determination of child’s and the deceased’s religion; and inheritance and derivative pension distribution. Therefore, this research explores Muslim converts’ perspectives on the need for and development of legal literacy regarding rights and legal implications of conversion to Islam. This study employed in-depth semi-structured interviews with 9 participants who were all Muslim converts. Each interview was transcribed verbatim, and the data were analysed with NVIVO software based on a thematic approach. The research found that all participants unanimously agreed to empower Muslim converts with legal literacy, considering many are not well-informed of the legal implications of conversion to Islam, despite it directly affecting their personal lives, family dynamic, and the multicultural society in Malaysia.

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