Muftis in Malaysia clash over naming children conceived out of wedlock

PERAK MUFTI HARUSSANI ZAKARIA
PERAK MUFTI HARUSSANI ZAKARIA
PERLIS MUFTI MOHD ASRI ZAINUL ABIDIN
PERLIS MUFTI MOHD ASRI ZAINUL ABIDIN

KUALA LUMPUR • Allowing a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock to take his or her father's name is akin to permitting adultery, said a senior cleric in Malaysia yesterday.

Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria said Muslim scholars had decided on the issue of illegitimate children thousands of years ago and that Malaysian Muslims should not go against these teachings.

He was commenting on a statement last week by another influential cleric, Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, urging the state National Registration Department (NRD) to abide by the Court of Appeal's landmark ruling on July 27 that allows illegitimate Muslim children to use their father's name as their surname.

The department's practice is for these children to carry the surname "bin or binti Abdullah", meaning son or daughter of a servant of God, regardless of the father's name.

The court said the "bin or binti Abdullah" in a child's name has to be replaced with the name of the father in the birth certificate.

According to Datuk Mohd Asri, Perlis had issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, in 2013 allowing a child born before six months after a couple is married, to be registered with the father's name, as long as he is married to the woman he impregnated and that he acknowledges that the child is his.

"The fatwa is aimed at protecting the child and the parents from shame and from being misjudged by others..." he said last Friday.

PROTECTION FROM SHAME

The fatwa (allowing the father's name to be used) is aimed at protecting the child and the parents from shame and from being misjudged by others ...

PERLIS MUFTI MOHD ASRI ZAINUL ABIDIN

PERMITTING ADULTERY

This is a new opinion that is veering towards permitting adultery.

PERAK MUFTI HARUSSANI ZAKARIA

The Perak Mufti, however, made clear his disagreement with the court ruling as well as with the Perlis Mufti's views.

"This is a new opinion that is veering towards permitting adultery," said Tan Sri Harussani. "The opinion by the Perlis Mufti is akin to permitting adultery."

Despite the court decision, the NRD said it will continue its current practice, which follows another fatwa issued in 2003 forbidding children conceived out of wedlock to take the name of the father.

Mr Harussani said the Federal Constitution "clearly states that Islam is the religion of the Federation, so why deny the decision of the Fatwa committee".

"The fatwa in every state has been gazetted according to Islamic laws. The decision of the Court of Appeal is insulting to Islam, the Federal Constitution and fatwa.

"This is a religious matter, not political," he said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline 'Muftis clash over naming children conceived out of wedlock'. Print Edition | Subscribe