|This is for keeps - a group photo of the Norwegian students with the two invited speakers and ISDEV members.|
On 8 February 2017, a total of 14 undergraduate students from Agder University, Norway, were at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) to participate in the 9th Annual Lecture Series on Contemporary Islam in Malaysia organized by ISDEV. It was an annual occasion resulting from the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between USM and Agder University in 2007.
|Guests from Adger University of Norway, Prof. Levi Geir Eidhamar with the panels Dr. Mohd. Fauzi of IKSIM and Prof. Dr. Mohd Omar, School of Technology Industry, USM.|
The first session started with the topic on 'The Contemporary Issues of Islam in Malaysia" delivered by Professor Omar Abd Kadir, from the School of Industrial Technology, USM. In his speech, he elaborated the meaning of Islam which is derived from the Arabic root word meaning "peace" and "submission". It is the same Arabic root word that gives us "Assalaamualaikum", ("Peace be open you"), the universal Muslims greeting. He added that Islam teaches that one can only find peace in one's life by submitting to Almighty Allah SWT in heart, soul and deeds.
|In action - Dr. Azreen Hamiza the MC for the event.|
In the second session, there were two topics discussed on the "Issues Pertaining to the Special Position of the Bumiputra" and "Conversion to Islam in the Context of Human Rights Within Malaysia" by Dr Mohd Fauzi Shaffie, the General Manager of Institute for Strategic Studies of Islam Malaysia (IKSIM). In his conclusion of the first topic which is on issues pertaining to the special position of the Malays and other Bumiputra, it may be said that the Malays are, as history has shown, the natives of this region of the world, known as the Nusantara and in particular, this land that we are all presently on, known as Tanah Melayu. Malays were once a great people who built multiple empires that prospered throughout the centuries. On the advent of Western imperialism, in particular British colonial rule, Malays, while still inhabiting this land, were rendered poor economically due to the divide and rule and the import of Chinese and Indian immigrants by the British. The Chinese and Indians became citizens, the Malays in Malaya and subsequently Malaysia, though having a special position under the Federal Constitution, only had 2.4% equity in the economy, which led to the 1969 racial riots.
|Prof. Dr. Mohd Omar and Dr. Mohd. Fauzi in action while the students of Adger University of Norway participated in Q & A session.|
Meanwhile, on the second topic for minors whose religions are converted by their converting parents, the position is not straightforward. Conflicting legal decisions have been made on the rights of a parent to unilaterally or otherwise convert the religion of his or her children, and this has been made all the more challenging given that under Article 121(1A), civil courts have no jurisdiction on matters coming within the purview of Syariah courts, which include divorce, custody, and conversion.