KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Islamic principles dictate that it is M. Indira Gandhi who should get custody of her children, PAS said in remarking on the controversial legal tussle between the Hindu mother and her Muslim ex-husband.
PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said that according to Islamic principles, Indira must be given child custody while her ex-spouse Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, formerly K. Pathmanathan, must provide alimony for their three children and also receive visiting rights.
“In the context of Islam, it is true that the mother has the rights to care for the kids, and she must have that right,” Tuan Ibrahim told Malay Mail Online in a phone interview last week.
“However, the father must also be given the rights to see his children. Have to be fair to both parents. In Islam, the mother must be given custody but the father, regardless of whether his family had also embraced Islam like him, must provide alimony for his children,” he added.
Tuan Ibrahim said that of the four schools of thought in Sunni Islam — Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hambali — the Malaysian Shariah system is aligned with the Shafi’i school that prioritises mothers in child custody matters.
However, under Shafi’i, custodial rights cannot be given to a non-Muslim
mother, though it allows a child to be handed over to the mother if the mother has not remarried.
Nonetheless, Tuan Ibrahim said the local Shariah system also refers to the compatibility of other schools when needed, such as Hanafi that upholds a mother’s custodial rights.
“That is why the [Shariah] court made the decision to grant custody to the father. However, it still can review that based on the Hanafi school of thought, because the basis for all the four schools of thought is that the custody right of children belongs to mothers.
“There is no difference in views with regards to this,” he said.
The deputy of the Islamist opposition party called for a mediator in light of the conflict between the civil and Shariah courts in Indira’s case.
“Yes, the court has made its decision, but the negotiations must continue so that the mother can have all her children back, while the father has the access to see them,” Tuan Ibrahim said.
In 2009, Muhammad Riduan snatched the couple’s youngest daughter Prasana Diksa then aged 11 months, and converted her and the two other children — Tevi Darsiny and Karan Dinish — to Islam in their absence and without Indira’s knowledge. He also won custody of the children in the Shariah courts that year.
Indira, however, won full custody of her three children in the Ipoh High Court in 2010, with the civil court also nullifying in 2013 the unilateral conversion of her children on grounds that it was unconstitutional.
But last month, the Court of Appeal in a majority decision overturned the High Court order on the children’s conversion and ruled that the matter was under the purview of the Shariah courts.