IPOH, 11 June 2009: The call to Islam is a willing and conscious submission, hence it cannot be forced upon anybody, including the conversion of a child or minor to Islam.
The director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Datuk Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas said this was because the ability to think and reason was a vital element for a non-Muslim to choose whether to become a Muslim.
“A child who has not reached ‘umur baligh’ (age of maturity) cannot be burdened with the responsibility of accepting something he does not understand as his faculties of reason are still immature.
“Therefore, it is unreasonable to say that one can simply convert a child,” he said in his keynote address titled Crisis in Religious Thinking at a discourse held at the Perak Institute of Islamic Administration here today.
He said a person who converted a child to Islam was actually forcing the child to accept the burden of responsibility when Allah did not command such a burden be placed on the child who had not reached the age of maturity.
Syed Ali said conversion of a child to Islam also did not guarantee that he would remain a Muslim as the decision to accept and practise the religion depended on him alone.
“The responsibility of a Muslim father is to educate his children on the religion and when they reach the age of maturity, they can make their choice,” he said.
The cabinet had in April decided that the children of a couple where one spouse had converted to Islam be raised in the religion the couple professed at the time of their marriage.
The decision was made to resolve the religous conversion issue with the case involving a man from Ipoh, K Pathmanaban, a Muslim convert, who converted his three young children to the religion without the consent of his wife, who did not convert. — Bernama