If I had not taken the initiative
to find out about the laws of the land
before I reverted to Islam,
I might not be writing this article to you today.
If I had not divorced my Buddhist ex-husband
before I reverted to Islam,
I might still be climbing the stairs
of the Syariah Court and
trying to gain my freedom.
If I had not learnt
that a Muslim revert cannot divorce his/her non-Muslim spouse
upon reversion to Islam
under Malaysian current laws,
I might still be a 'legal wife' at the Civil Court,
and a 'divorcee' at the Syariah Court,
unless my estranged and embittered nonMuslim husband
agreed to apply for a divorce himself.
Don't you know
that once a nonMuslim becomes a Muslim,
he or she can no longer apply for divorce in the Malaysian Civil Court,
and while the Syariah Court may state that
the nonMuslim spouse is no longer a spouse to the nonMuslim
after three months' iddah,
the Civil Court can declare that he/she still is?
It's easy for a man also
a husband, and
to revert to Islam
and remain a free person
to continue his life as a Muslim
for he can have other Muslim wives,
besides a nonMuslim who still calls herself his estranged wife.
But a woman, who's
a wife, also
who chooses Islam
is not as free.
She can no longer remarry
unless she is granted a divorce by the Civil Court
applied by the estranged nonMuslim husband
who, in his anger and revenge
would refuse do.
And that's not all.
She faces prejudices from both the Muslims
who thinks that she's having a Muslim boyfriend
[which might not be true],
also from the nonMuslims
who says she's a disgrace and shuns her,
which might just make her regret
being a Muslimah [nazubillah].
Allah has helped me
to gain my freedom.
Secretively learning about Islam,
patiently waiting for the right moment,
boldly proceeding with the divorce on my own,
paying for my freedom
from an empty marriage,
from a religion I no longer believe in.
then gaining my freedom,
officially reciting the syahadah,
was all the sweeter after the long long terrible wait.
But I am the lucky one;
not knowing what to do,
lack of knowledge,
lack of funds,
What is the respite for them?
What about their rights
to live as Muslimah,
to remarry and have a Muslim family,
no longer tied to a revengeful spouse
who with rights through the Civil Court
can still call her his legal wife,
unwilling to let go,
unwilling to file for divorce,
preferring to see her suffer
as a payback for her disloyalty
not respecting her wish to live
her life as she wants - as a Muslimah.
What about her rights as a woman,
who can't remarry
unless she's granted a divorce
by the magistrate at the Civil Court?
What about her rights,
for her status to be legally stated as a divorcee
at the National Registration office?
How long should she wait
while the dispute continues between the courts?
What about her rights as a new Muslimah
in this Islamic land
many call home.
***The non-Muslim marriage between the husband and wife remains intact and continues to subsist until the High Court dissolves it pursuant to a divorce petition by the unconverted spouse...,” justice Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, who headed a three-judge bench, told the court.