These natives are Muslims in Jheain’s view
KOTA KINABALU, Jan 29: Outgoing Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (Jheains) Director Datuk Amri A. Suratman said Tuesday that the recent mass conversion of Christian natives to Islam in Pitas is valid under Islamic law, although the manner in which it was carried out is under investigation.
Amri said only the Syariah Court can now cancel or retain the new converts’ religion status.
He said Jheains had investigated the case involving 74 people from remote villages in Pitas in a ceremony held at the district mosque on Jan. 1, following allegations that it was carried out in a questionable manner.
“We are looking at the matter from two angles, one from the angle of Islamic law and the other, the manner in which the ceremony was organised.
“Their conversion from the angle of Islamic law is valid but the manner it was organised, we are leaving it to the police. I understand a police report had been made on the ceremony,” he said.
Amri said not all the villagers converted to Islam that day, but the others did when they recited the Dua Kalimah Syahadah.
It was reported that several villagers lodged a police report on the conversion ceremony, claiming they were cheated into doing so in exchange for receiving RM100 for adults and RM50 for children on Jan. 7. It is understood that they travelled for hours to town to receive the aid which was originally meant to be RM800.
Amri denied Jheains had masterminded the ceremony. According to a web portal, the effort was made by a Selangor-based non-governmental organisation, Yayasan Ikhlas, which claimed to have raised about RM11,000 to be given away as contribution to the “Saudara baru” (new brothers and sisters).
“If there is any element of cheating or criminality we are leaving it to the police,” he said.
Although the conversion was conducted by Jheains officers, Amri said the officers had to be certain before people could be converted.
“Those who converted through Islamic law, before it is done, we need to be clear that their intention is genuine and voluntary. They need to recite the Dua Kalimah Syahadah and accept Islam with an open heart.”
He said the new converts have to attend courses and the Sabah Islamic Council (Muis) has a financial scheme to support them for this. “Once converted, the coordinating Jheains officer will send their particulars to the Sabah Tithe Centre, which will later provide them the allocation to attend the courses.
“We will give it to them once we receive their registration,” he said.
Amri said there are many NGOs in Sabah doing their outreach programmes to recruit new converts but advised them to coordinate their activities with Jheains.
“As-a-matter-of-fact we encourage them but we want these NGOs to coordinate their work with Jheains officers placed in each district,” he said. Amri has been transferred to the Chief Minister’s Department on promotion and is replaced by Abdul Halim Nayan, the former Natural Resources Department Secretary.
source: Daily Express