Date: Friday 13 February 2004
Subj: Sharia Law: Deemed Converts
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal
There has been considerable confusion amongst Western Christians about the implications of Sharia Law in family matters. Some Western Christians are proposing that Western nations embrace sharia for Muslims, as a way of encouraging cultural diversity and religious freedom. However, someone who supports religious freedom cannot support sharia because sharia restricts, even denies religious freedom.
The following story of a courageous Iraqi Mandaean girl is an example of how sharia abuses the religious liberty of individuals. (Mandaeans follow the teachings of John the Baptist.)
The following report is written by Mr. John Clugston of the Sabian Mandaean Association of Australia (SMAA).
- By John Clugston
In Iraq a miserable class similar to the forced converts is that of the hapless deemed converts: i.e., those who are deemed to be Muslims by operation of law because one or other of their parents has been converted to Islam.
An example of this is the case of "Nisbai" (not her real name.) When "Nisbai" was 10 years old her father converted to Islam and her registration was changed from "Mandaean" to "Muslim". When "Nisbai" reached her majority she commenced legal proceedings seeking to have her registration as Mandaean restored.
After several years the case reached the highest court of appeal, the Court of Cassation, which in 2002 ruled as follows:
- quoted from a certified translation of the judgment of the court.
Changing the religion of the minor who was considered Muslim due to the conversion of one of his parents is based on the Sharia rulings. By checking these rulings it was found that they were based on two principles; the first if one of the parents convert to Islam his minor children became Muslims. The other principle is that any person who became a Muslim whether he became Muslim on his own or by consequence, he is not allowed to reverse from it as this is considered apostasy prohibited by the rulings of Islam and it is punishable.
These two rules hold their roots in the verses of the Koran and the revered prophetical tradition and by the consensus of the learned religious scholars [Fokahaa] and those are the sources of the Islamic jurisprudence in the Islamic Sharia.
In the Koran Allah said, 'For those who believed, and their children also followed them in belief, we will have their children join them.' [sura 52:21] [al-Tur:21] and in Tafseer Kabir [great interpretation] of El-Razzie about this verse, he said the Allah linked the siblings to the parent in faith and not in infidelity; so who convert to Islam, their children are considered Muslims, and those Muslims who apostatise, their children would not be considered apostates. vol 28, p.251.
And Allah also said [3:19] 'The only religion approved by Allah is Islam' [sura 3:19] [al-Imran:19] and His saying, 'Anyone who accepts other than Islam as his religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter, he will be with the loser' [sura 3:85] [al-Imran:85] and His saying 'Those among you who revert from their religion, and die as disbelievers.' [sura 2:217] [The Cow:217].
This is supported by the tradition of the Prophet (pbuh) who said 'he who changed his religion, kill him', and his saying, 'It is not allowed to spill the blood of a Muslim except through one of three [reasons]: person for person, woman caught in adultery, and he who leaves his religion and part the group.'
All Muslim sects agreed to these rules by consensus except one who came lately named Sofian Elthowry [Sofian the revolutionary].
Mr. John Clugston continues: Faced with being irremediably compelled to be Muslim, "Nisbai" fled from Iraq and has been granted refugee status in a Western country, where she is able to practise the Mandaean Religion without hindrance.
The judgment in "Nisbai"'s case was made while Saddam Hussein was still in power and maintaining an ostensibly secular regime which did impose some restraint upon Islamists. As Iraq descends into an Islamic state the situation and legal status of Mandaeans, Jews and
Christians and other non-Muslim minorities must be expected to deteriorate further.
"Nisbai" herself is now safe and free from Islam. But there are now many in Iraq in the miserable situation that she was in. Please reflect upon how distressing and humiliating and degrading it would be for anyone to be obliged on a daily basis to engage in Islamic religious observances, to recite the Koran, to attend the mosque and listen to mullahs' sermons and go through Islamic prayer rituals, while all the time conscientiously believing Islam to be a false religion and even heartily detesting it.
Moreover, a woman deemed to be Muslim could not legally marry a Mandaean (or a Christian) but could only marry a Muslim and might well be forced to do so. Any offspring of such a union would also be legally deemed to be Muslim.
Besides the Mandaean forced converts and deemed converts, the report issued by the Barnabas Fund 'Mainstream Political Leaders denounce attacks on Christian Minority', would appear to indicate that it is likely that many Christians also are in this dreadful predicament.
- John Clugston
The 14 January 2004 Barnabas Fund report mentioned above reported that Iraqi intellectuals had protested that "'horrific' crimes had been committed against women in forcing them to wear the veil, but worst of all was the 'terrorising of our Christian brothers', intimidating them to become Muslims." (Link 1)
The above story is similar to that of Mrs Siham Qandah, a Jordanian Christian widow who has been fighting for nine years to retain custody of her two children, daughter Rawan (15) and son Fadi (14), who were officially deemed Muslim after baseless allegations were made that Siham's husband had converted to Islam before he died.
Siham Qandah's daughter, Rawan (15), has been unsuccessful in her attempt to start a court case in a local court in Irbid. The Sharia court is refusing to issue her with a certificate to prove that she is of mature age (which she is according to sharia). There is considerable anxiety that if the courts are successful in having Rawan committed into the custody of her estranged Muslim-cleric uncle, he may marry her to a Muslim man. (Link 2)
Christians can only support sharia if they are prepared to abandon religious liberty and betray people like "Nisbai" and her mother, Siham and her children, and all other sharia victims.
- Elizabeth Kendal
1) Mainstream Political Leaders denounce attacks on Christian Minority.
Barnabas Fund, 14 Jan 2004
2) For reports on Siham's case, visit Compass Direct News