Malaysia: Sharia court dismisses Ayah Pin follower application to be apostate from Islam

KUALA TERENGGANU, Sun: The Syariah High court here dismissed a cult follower’s application to declare herself as an apostate today. Kamariah Ali, 57, who is among the followers of Kamal Ariffin a.k.a Ayah Pin was still a Muslim as her earlier application at a Syariah High court in Kelantan to leave the religion was rejected.

Syariah High Court judge Mohamad Abdullah said this cannot be used as a defence under Section 7 of the Syariah Criminal Offence Enactment (Takzir) (Terengganu 2001) in which she is charged with declaring herself an apostate to avoid action being taken against her at the Syariah Lower Court in Besut.

Sky Kingdom

The Sky Kingdom was a quasi-religious interfaith commune located in the eastern Malaysian state of Terengganu.

Malaysia demolished the commune in August, 2005

While Malaysia has a secular legal system, the country is ruled by a ‘moderate’ Muslim majority.

“Muslims in Malaysia come under the purview of religious courts that are not part of the secular federal legal system. Any attempt to deviate from Islamic teachings, or to leave the religion, can bring harsh penalties from the religious courts.” [Source]

Sky Kingdom leader Ayah Pin claims to be a deity

The group includes former Muslims

Kamariah was arrested together with 58 other followers of the Ayah Pin sect on July 21 2005. They were all charged under Section 10 of the Syariah Criminal Offence Enactment (Takzir) (Terengganu 2001) for not adhering to the state fatwa (edict) which had ruled the teachings as deviant.

Despite claiming that she had left the religion in 1998, she was teaching at an Islamic institution in 2000.

Mohamad said based on ‘fiq’, a person is a Muslim until proven they have left the religion and in this case there was no solid evidence to cast doubt over the prima facie. Even her declaration of leaving Islam was done in front of a commissioner of oath.
In passing judgement, Mohamad said he did not want to sentence her as he would rather see her return to Islam. “I want to give her a chance and hopefully she has a change of heart and the sentence will be based upon the progress she has made. I have seen some changes, but there still some doubts on my end,” he said.

Prosecutor Mustafar Hamzah, however, pressed for stern action to be taken against her in lieu of the seriousness of the offence which could affect public order and the faith of Malaysian Muslims.

The defense could not argue that Kamariah had been influenced by others when declaring herself an apostate. He said as a former Al-Azhar University graduate she was knowledgeable in religious matters and should not have committed such an act.

Mustafar also said until today she did not show any signs of remorse or repentance.

Later, after a stand down for about 30 minutes, Mohamad allowed Kamariah, who was represented by Sa’adiah Din, to plead for leniency in which she sought repentance.

Mohamad then advice her that apart from repentance she must never follow Ayah Pin’s’ teaching or that of other deviant groups.
“I hope you not only realise your mistake but promise never to repeat it,” he said. “Although, as you said earlier, your faith is something between yourself and God, this particular case however affects society. It is up to you to prove your sincerity.”
Earlier, Kamariah put up a defiant front, arguing with the judge on the concept on the freedom of religion and confusion created in the entire case as well as refusing to utter the ‘syahadah’ (proclamation of faith).

Muhamad fixed March 3 for sentencing.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday February 19, 2008.
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