Ibrahim welcomes twofold legal system to solve interfaith marriage custody conflicts

16 Feb 2016 / 18:27 H.

    BANGI: Syariah Chief Judge Tan Sri Ibrahim Lembut today welcomed the suggestion to set up a special court or tribunal to resolve the custody conflict after a spouse converts to Islam.
    Dubbed an ideal avenue for middle-ground process to reach amicable solutions, Ibrahim said the proposed tribunal which consists of a twofold legal system – Syariah and civil – together with a representative from the Conference of Rulers, would be the most realistic solution during interfaith disputes between Muslim and non-Muslim spouses in custody battle.
    "I fully agree with this idea. Actually, we had this in mind for quite some time and already in our draft plans. This court or tribunal will allow judges from both sides of the legal system to sit down together, deliberate while we offer the best of both legal systems," said Ibrahim, after attending the 'Wacana' with Shariah Judiciary Department senior officials here this morning.
    Citing the special court in Indonesia dealing with interfaith marriages and dispute, the director-general said similar court in Malaysia can bring fair outcome and bring an end to the current quandary.
    However, Ibrahim reminded that Muslims are still under the civil laws while non-Muslims are not bound by Syariah law.
    He pointed out that non-Muslims should not fear the Islamic legal process.
    "Syariah courts have always been giving priority to mothers over fathers during the custody process of an infant.
    "For example, Syariah courts always prioritise mothers in cases when infants are under two-years-old since we always take into consideration babies requiring mother's attention for breastfeeding purpose and so forth," said Ibrahim.
    "But often, when non-Muslim mothers are called up to attend court, the mother refuses to attend. That's understandable since non-Muslims are not subjected to Islamic laws," he said.
    "But again, I would like to highlight that Syariah courts are very fair to mothers when it involves custody for toddlers."
    Ibrahim also confirmed that new laws are required to establish the special tribunal.
    Last week, Muslim Lawyers Association president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar suggested for a tribunal consisting of judges from civil and Syariah courts.
    He also stated that Conference of Rulers could be involved by appointing the tribunal's chairman.
    On Feb 10, the Federal Court delivered judgment by splitting custody of two children between a Hindu mother, S. Deepa against her Muslim convert former husband Izwan Abdullah.
    The eight year-old Muhammad Nabil or formerly known as Mithran was given custody to Izwan while Nabil's 11-year-old sister, Sharmila, was handed to Deepa in a legal battle that lasted for more than three years.
    The unanimous decision by the Apex Court last week was a departure from the Seremban High Court decision in 2013 which awarded the custody of both children under the Child Act 2001 to the mother, Deepa.


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