By Zurairi AR
The Malay Mail Online
March 24, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 24 — Not one Muslim applied to convert out of their faiths in the Shariah Courts over the past decade, a minister said today, laying to rest previous claims of apostasy repeatedly made by religious hardliners.
To the contrary, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said 4,520 individuals embraced Islam in just four years between 2008 and 2012, according to the Federal Territories Religious Department’s (Jawi) records.
“So far, there were no Muslims, including new converts, who left the religion, based on the lack of applications to convert out of Islam in the Shariah courts,” Jamil said in a written reply to Kampar MP Dr Ko Chung Sen in Parliament here.
Ko had requested the number of non-Muslims who converted into Islam in the last ten years, and the number of Muslims who converted out in the same period.
However, Jamil said there were applications by those who were mistakenly registered as Muslims, particularly those in Sabah and Sarawak, who had asked to switch religions.
He said those registered as Muslims by mistake usually have names that sound like Muslims’ names.
Jamil also said that a more detailed record on new converts into Islam can only be provided by each state’s religious departments.
In Malaysia, laws bar non-Muslims from proselytising their faiths to Muslims, despite the Federal Constitution expressly stipulating under Article 11 that every Malaysian is guaranteed the right to freedom of religion.
Interfaith relations in the country suffered major blows over the past few years, owing to unsubstantiated claims by Muslim hardliners that Islam, the religion of the federation, has come under threat of apostasy and secularism.
In a recent case, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria alleged that up to 250,000 Muslims in Malaysia had become apostates, including 100,000 who converted to Christianity. The religious cleric had based his claim on an anonymous study.
In 2011, Selangor religious authorities raided an evangelical church in Petaling Jaya after receiving a complaint that Muslims were present at a dinner function there, sparking suspicion that Christians were attempting to proselytise Muslims.
Also in 2011, Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, citing unsubstantiated blog postings by two pro-Umno bloggers, claimed that a number of DAP leaders and several Christian clergymen took a pledge promising to take over Putrajaya, abolish Islam as the religion of the federation and install a Christian prime minister.
The paper also published a grainy photograph to back its claim.
Muslim groups have also repeatedly claimed that the Christians’ insistence on using the Arabic word “Allah” was born of a desire to proselytise to Muslims.
Muslims make up 61.3 per cent of the Malaysian population, followed by Buddhists at 19.8 per cent, and Christians at 9.2 per cent, according to the latest census data from 2010.