A Malaysian Christian man gets rid of his Muslim name

March 7th, 2009 - 11:14 pm ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

A man in Malaysia, was given an Islamic name at birth and was a Christian, a rare victory for religious minorities in this Muslim-majority nation, in an Islamic court.

The man’s original identity card listed his name as ‘Mohammad Shah alias Gilbert Freeman’ had brought his case to the Shariah court in southern Negeri Sembilan state after the National Registration Department refused to accept he was a Christian and allow him to drop his Islamic name when he applied for a new identity card.

His lawyer, Hanif Hassan said his client, who is 61, was raised as a Christian by his mother, and his Islamic name came from his Muslim father, who left the family when he was only 2-months-old. Mr Freeman is married according to Christian rites and has three children who are Christians.

‘The Shariah court ruled that he is not a Muslim. He is not practicing Islam, and he hasn’t applied to be a Muslim,’ Mr Hanif told The Associated Press.

He said his client was happy with the Shariah court’s decision.

‘This is a rare case but it shows that the Shariah courts are not rigid and are able to help resolve inter-religious disputes,’ he said.

Mr Freeman sought the court’s help because he said he was getting old and he didn’t want any confusion over whether he should receive a Christian burial after, Mr Hanif said.

There have been several cases of Islamic authorities claiming the bodies of people they say converted secretly to Islam.

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