The High Court’s decision to grant Sisters in Islam (SIS) the ‘stay of execution of enforcement of the fatwa’ after an application has been made against the High Court’s judgement of a fatwa against SIS shows a fair judgement by the court.
The ‘stay of execution of enforcement of the fatwa’ ruling by YA Justice Dato’ Nordin Hassan essentially means that any enforcement actions by the Selangor Fatwa Committee and Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Majlis Agama Islam Selangor or MAIS) under the fatwa will not be taken.
This, however, is only temporary until the appeal, which SIS has filed to the Court of Appeal in September 2019 is settled. Despite having more challenges and obstacles in the future, Rozana Isa, Executive Director of Sisters in Islam states that, “The decision today shows that the court recognises our rights as enshrined by the Federal Constitution.”
She continues, “We hope that the Malaysia justice system will grant us our full constitutional rights to be able to have peaceful and respectful discussions on the Islamic administration, its laws and policies and its impact on the lives of Muslim women and Malaysians overall.”
In 2014, SIS challenged MAIS in the High Court after the religious body declared SIS a deviant organisation for advocating liberalism and religious pluralism. The challenge was met to a disappointing outcome as the High Court decided that the case is under the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. Since being issued with the fatwa, SIS’s operations and programmes have been affected in terms of our engagement and outreach to the public and we have had to take extra precautionary safety and security measures for our staff, resource persons and participants not only at the office but also at the locations where our programmes are conducted.
Despite the rejection and the ongoing fatwa, SIS will continue our work of advancing the rights of Muslim women and children and continue to advocate for the end of child marriage, of degrading children born out of wedlock and women trapped in the clutches of violence and injustice.
For over 30 years, SIS has been carrying the voices of women from the ground to decision-makers and policymakers. SIS has also helped over 10,000 women and men through their Telenisa service – a free legal helpline which remains the only non-judgemental and rights-based advisory service for Islamic Family and Syariah Laws in Malaysia today.
SIS has also championed other issues such as ending child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), gender-based violence, moral policing, marital rape and promoting gender equality in Muslim marriages and Islamic Family Laws. We will also continue to be a champion for women to achieve gender justice and equality be it in Malaysia or the world over.