RLP 384 (June Update) requested prayer for a critical court case in Malaysia. Lina Joy (42), who was born Azlina Jailani to Malay parents, converted from Islam to Christianity when she was 26. The National Registry Department consented to changing her name on her ID card but told Lina she had to get a certificate from the Sharia Court to show she had permission to convert to Christianity, as Malaysian law required a Muslim's religious matters to be decided in a Sharia (Islamic) Court. However according to traditional Islamic Law apostasy (leaving Islam) is not a Muslim's right - it is a capital offence.
As long as Lina is officially identified as a Muslim she is legally compelled to marry a Muslim man in a Muslim ceremony and be subject to Islamic Laws, including Islamic family law. So Lina has been fighting for her rights. In 2001 the High Court refused to rule on her case. In September 2005 the High Court dismissed her appeal, so Lina's counsel is now challenging the decision in the Federal Court. The Federal Court ruling will clarify whether the religious freedom of Malaysia's Muslims is determined by the Constitution (which gives liberty) or the Sharia (which denies it). At the time of writing RLP 384, the decision was pending. Two months later, the decision is still pending.
'Article 11', a multi-faith umbrella body that includes 13 non- government organisations, is protesting about Islamisation and is rallying for the supremacy of the Constitution which guarantees religious freedom, including the freedom to convert. In response, Islamist groups are protesting secularisation and rallying for the supremacy of Sharia which negates that constitutional right for Muslims. As all Malays (50 percent of the population) are defined by the Constitution as Muslim, religious freedom is thereby denied them from birth on racial grounds. The public debate has set religious tensions simmering and Prime Minister Badawi has moved to appease the Islamists. In July the Ministry of Internal Security banned 18 books offensive to Islamists (including 'Lifting the Veil' by Trudie Crawford, 'Sharing Your Faith with A Muslim' by Akbidayah Akbar Abdul-Haqqand, and 'Islam' by Mathew Gordon, Oxford University Press) alleging the books had potential to 'disrupt peace and harmony'. PM Badawi decided to 'preserve social harmony' by directing Article 11 and the media to refrain from discussing religious issues.
According to Badawi the anti-proselytising laws that ban presenting other faiths to Muslims must be implemented to preserve racial and religious harmony. On 21 August he urged Malaysian states with such laws to start enforcing them and the other states to frame them now. Witnessing to Muslims is not illegal under federal law but it may be banned at the state level. Meanwhile in the northern state of Kelantan, state-funded Islamic missionaries are receiving financial incentives to convert tribal Orang Asli (Original People) to Islam. Islamic missionaries who agree to live and work amongst them will receive free housing, a monthly allowance of 1,000 ringgit (US$270) and a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Those who marry tribal women will be given 10,000 ringgit (US$2,700).
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
* Malaysia's Prime Minister Badawi, that God will direct his heart (Proverbs 21:1) away from the intimidating, threatening voices of Islamists towards the voices of justice, equality and religious liberty, filling him with the moral conviction and courage needed to stand for what is right.
* the Federal Court judges still deliberating over Lina Joy's appeal; may God direct their hearts (Proverbs 21:1) towards a just outcome enabling all Malaysians to enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of religious freedom.
* God to fill the Malaysian Church with peace and grace amidst hostility, as well as zeal and courage amidst a mission field; may God raise up Christian voices and leaders to be both lights and signposts to a society in transition.
* God to work in all things for the good of those in Malaysia who love the Lord and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), so that by whatever means he ordains, Malaysians will come to see the Lord and embrace him as their only Saviour.
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE: ------------------------------------------------------------
MALAYSIA - TENSION, APPEASEMENT & RESTRICTION
Malaysia's Federal Court is presently deliberating a case that will determine whether Muslims have the right to change their religion without requiring permission from a Sharia Court. (Of course a Sharia Court would not grant permission because Sharia deems leaving Islam to be a capital offence). The Federal Court's ruling will clarify whether the religious freedom of Malaysia's Muslims is determined by the Constitution (which gives liberty) or the Sharia (which denies it). The public debate over religious liberty has become heated and Prime Minister Badawi has moved to appease the Islamists. Amongst other measures he has recommended that state anti-proselytising laws be enforced, but only against those presenting a faith other than Islam to Muslims. Please pray for the judges deliberating this case, and pray for the Church in Malaysia.
Please send this RLP to others, with attribution to World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List ([email protected]) ----------------------------------------------------
The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC. Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.
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