Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

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Malaysian Muslim applies to renounce faith

He was born a Malay, carries a Malay name and is registered in his identity card as a Muslim.

But Mohd Yunus Kassim says he stopped practising Islam nearly 50 years ago and wants this made official to avoid "unnecessary complications" when he dies.

Now Mohd Yunus, 62, who is married to a Chinese and raises his children as Buddhists, is applying to the Syariah Court to declare he is not Muslim.

"I do not want to share the same fate as some other cases," he said today. "When I die, I want my funeral to be peaceful. I don't want any problems."

Yunus said he was the second of six siblings born to his Malay mother, Che Putih, and Chinese father, Goh Fook Heng, who converted to Islam and took the name Kassim Abdullah.

Yunus claimed to have stopped being a practising Muslim at 13, despite having an identity card stating Islam as his religion. He married a fellow rubber tapper, Yan Joo Eng, at 23.

In 1974, he reported his status to the Tampin Religious Department but was not allowed to renounce his religion.

"I left it at that and carried on living my life as a Buddhist practising Chinese customs. I had six children who are now between 19 and 30, all of whom have Chinese names and are registered as Buddhists. I have told them I want to be cremated as one."

Yunus, whose Chinese name is Goh Ah Yang, said last week he had reported his status to the district religious department on the advice of Kampung Tampin Tengah village chief Ali Umar.

The department advised him to see the state religious affairs department, JHEAINS, who told him to consult the state mufti's office.

"I met an officer there and I was told that I need to apply to the Syariah Court."

Yunus said he intended to submit a Borang Keluar Islam (renunciation of faith) form very soon.

"I just want to have my last rites done according to the faith and customs I practise now."

Ali, meanwhile, said he would send a report to JHEAINS and hoped the department would act on it.