Sisters in Islam (SIS) welcomes the Sibu, Sarawak High Court’s decision to remove ‘bin Abdullah’ and allow the Muslim adoptive father’s name to be inserted with the child’s name.
The decision that was made by High Court Judicial Commissioner Christoper Chin Soo Yin takes into account the child’s best interest and is in line with the adoptive Muslim parents’ wishes and requests.
The use of ‘bin Abdullah’ for Muslim children born out of wedlock carries a social stigma as ‘bin Abdullah’ children are often bullied, ridiculed, attacked and targeted.
However, such compassion is not reflected in the case involving a Johor Muslim child born out of wedlock. On 13 February 2020, the Federal Court ruled ‘bin Abdullah’ to be removed from the child’s name and disallowed the father’s name to be a part of the child’s name. SIS issued a statement regarding this, voicing our concerns about disallowing the father’s name to be a part of the child’s name. Despite having ‘bin Abdullah’ removed, the child is still subjected to stigmatisation as the child has no last name.
Furthermore, while the Sibu, Sarawak High Court ruling is in accordance with the law and its application, as the adoptive parents filed the application on 16 January 2020, SIS also views with concern a Sarawak fatwa that was gazetted on 24 February 2021 that states a child born out of wedlock “must be given the name Abdullah” after the child’s name.
In Malaysia, states have issued their own fatwa on this matter. For example, the Perlis state government has gazetted a fatwa in 2013 that allows children born less than six months from the parents’ marriage date to carry the name of his or her father provided their parents and that the father acknowledges the child. However, the father does not have paternity rights over the child. The late Wahbah Zuhaili, a well-respected Islamic scholar, has stated that it is permissible for the child to be named after the father if he so agrees. This particular argument is in line with upholding the best interests of the child.
SIS has time and again called for greater balance in the promulgation of Islamic laws and fatwas. The most important tenets of Islam – justice, compassion, harmony – must be the guiding factor. It is clear that this fatwa on children born out of wedlock causes harm and is not beneficial to the welfare and best interest of the child. – SIS