Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Men are creatures of emotions, and when it comes to issues of faith, men are at their most emotional and sensitive. It is difficult to discuss rationally with regards to matters of faith, particularly in the public space. The only times when I've discussed religion extensively, was as part of my Philosophy course as well as with friends of various faith who were open to sharing differing views and opinions.

Hence, I'm writing with a little trepidation on the issue which I'm about to discuss and highlight.

Rayappan Anthony (71) died of diabetes complications recently. On his Identity Card issued by the National Registration Department (NRD) in 2000, his religion is stated as "Christianity". Together with his wife, M. Lourdes Mary, they were Roman Catholics and had six children from his Christian marriage.

On the surface, things appear pretty straightforward and his family should have the right to claim the body of Rayappan Anthony and perform the necessary Catholic burial rites.

Unfortunately for the family, Rayappan converted to Islam back in 1990 when he married a Muslim woman and changed his name to Muhamad Rayappan bin Abdullah. However, in 1999 he returned to his first family and reconverted to Christianity. He confirmed his profession of his Christian faith by way of a statutory declaration in front of a Commissioner for Oaths, submitted a deed poll to the NRD to change his Muslim name back to his original one and it was approved.

However, despite Rayappan's return to Christianity, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) is laying claim to the body for Rayappan to be buried in accordance to Islamic rites.

Clearly, Rayappan's right to profess and practise his religion, as enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, has not been duly respected by the state religious authorities.

But without even taking the Constitution, with its overlapping complications, into the picture, the paramount consideration has to be given to the family who are already grieving from Rayappan's death and there is absolutely no necessity to compound their bereavement by taking his body away from them.

As far as I'm aware, all religions emphasizes the need for moral compassion, justice and consideration. There is no compassion, no justice and no consideration in MAIS' attempt to deny Rayappan's mourning family from saying their last goodbyes, in their own personal ways to him.

Let's hope that the case which is now being resolved in the Courts will be resolved in a manner in which justice, compassion and consideration prevails.


Jerng said...

Such religious ideas are softwares which are simply dying to be hacked... I propose a trainig session for all interested parties. ;)

Trashed said...

This case brings up a few points related to law:

1) It would appear that whatever religion that appears on your NRIC may be irrelevant to the Islamic religious authorities

2) Change of religion by Deed Poll is also irrelevant

3) Hospital KL does not accept civil law court's injunction notice. By whose authority do they function ?

4) Non-Muslims can be subpoenaed to attend Syariah Court even though they are not under Islamic jurisdiction.

5) This is a good case to establish that Civil Law is the overriding law of the land as envisioned by the founding fathers of this country.

clk said...

Trashed said "Hospital KL does not accept civil law court's injunction notice. By whose authority do they function ?", interesting point.

A hospital or any separate legal entity like a Company, it is subject to religious laws?

If no, why is it subjecting itself to orders from Syariah courts, if yes, then a hospital is deemed to be a living person...ouch dilemma here!

Imagine a scenario where the syariah court makes an order against a Government body or the M'sian Government itself, since its boundaries now extend beyond a living person?

Anonymous said...

Personally I think the case only strengthen the resolve by Islamist for Article 121(1A). The grief and rights of the minority family member is not material compared to the status of their religion.

Until something really really bad happen like violence, they won't care.

Anonymous said...

What are we fighting for? Make peace ye all people in the world. There is no God. Human being is part of the Animal Kingdom just like Dogs, cats and cows. Nobody would be able to keep the profiles of all the many billions billions of people who had come and gone since life immortalized

Be at peace, brethen.

clk said...

Don't blame religion per se. Blame the "guardians" of religion; humankind.

Is what they are doing recorded in the Holy Books?

I seriously doubt it. These religious officials have lost all credibility as far as I'm concern. Suggest read the THE Holy Book.

Trashed said...

Now that the case has been retracted, it is dismaying that it did not get to have its day in court.

I think that MAIS backed down to prevent the High Court from making a ruling. Had the ruling been made agst MAIS, then this would have set a legal precedent which would not be favourable (assuming the High Court ruled for Rayappan's family) in the bigger scheme of things.

Hence, I believe that MAIS backed down from a strategic point of view to maintain its stranglehold on the interpretation of Islamic legal rules instead of allowing themselves to be subservient to the Constitution.