Fatwa on ‘bin Abdullah’ should be revised, says Penang mufti

Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor says although the Federal Court’s ruling is correct, natural justice should prevail.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor today said it was “probably time” to revise an old fatwa banning Muslim children born out of wedlock from carrying their father’s name.

He said while yesterday’s Federal Court ruling upholding the fatwa was in the spirit of the Shafi’i school of thought, natural justice should prevail.

The majority of Muslims in Malaysia follow the Shafi’i school of thought, one of the four major schools of Islamic law in Sunni Islam.

“Ancient ulama decreed that it is a must for a child to be connected to their father’s nasab or lineage.

“It is in my opinion that this fatwa should be revised and changed if the need arises. After all, Islamic teachings are based on justice, wisdom, honour and goodwill.

“And in meting out justice in this issue, the innocent children born out of wedlock should not bear their parents’ sins.

“There needs to be some wisdom on this matter, to also look at the psychological aspects of the child’s future, which should not be ruined for not having a ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ in their names,” he told FMT.

Wan Salim said a 1981 fatwa set by the National Fatwa Committee had decreed that children born less than six months and two seconds from the nikah (marriage) of the parents cannot carry the father’s name.

Hence, a child born out of wedlock cannot inherit any property of the father or even be recognised as a sibling to other children born after their parents’ marriage.

“Looking at the views of the old fatwa, we have seen that it may not be in agreeance with other ulama, or not in consensus with others,” he said.

Yesterday, a seven-member Federal Court panel unanimously ordered the National Registration Department (JPN) director-general to remove the words “bin Abdullah” from the birth certificate of a Muslim boy from Johor born out of wedlock.

The court also ruled that the boy cannot use his biological father’s name.

The couple had applied to JPN to register the father’s name on the birth certificate under Section 13 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA) but it carried “bin Abdullah” instead.

JPN refused to substitute it with the father’s name, despite an application made to remove the “bin Abdullah”, on the grounds the child was illegitimate.

This resulted in the parents filing an application for a judicial review in the High Court in 2016.

The couple lost their case in the High Court but the Court of Appeal in 2017 reversed the decision.