In a recent development, the Court of Appeal in Kuala Lumpur upheld the decision made by the High Court regarding a Malaysian woman’s attempt to leave Islam and adopt Confucianism and Buddhism. The Court of Appeal judge, Datuk Hajjah Azizah Nawawi, stated that the High Court’s rejection of the appellant’s request for judicial review was justified. This is because matters involving the renunciation of Islam fall within the jurisdiction of the Shariah Court and are not subject to review under Order 53 of the Rules of Court. The ruling emphasized the separation between the Shariah and civil court systems, considering them as distinct legal entities.
The unanimous judgment, delivered through a video-conferencing platform, affirmed the High Court’s decision and did not impose any costs. The appellant’s lawyer, Fahri Azzat, represented her during the proceedings. In March 2022, the woman, identified as “A,” initiated a legal action in the civil High Court, naming several parties including the Shariah Court of Appeal, the Shariah High Court, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP), and the government of Malaysia as respondents.
The woman sought a series of court orders, numbering at least 12, as part of her lawsuit. Among her requests were declarations that the Shariah courts lacked the authority to declare an individual no longer a Muslim. The Court of Appeal’s decision highlights the distinct legal systems in Malaysia and underscores the complex intersection of religious and civil matters in the country’s legal landscape.