The case of Gan Eng Gor and what we need to know about conversion to Islam

I received an email from Jo whose sister is the daughter in-law of Gan Eng Gor. We read about Gan’s death and how the family found out that he had converted to Islam.

Please note that I see Islam as a beautiful religion which is sadly abused as a political tool sometimes. So, I have no problem with anyone’s converting to Islam. However, the problem is when a person is converted to Islam, no one in the family will know about it because there is no notification except what is registered in our identity card (which may not be updated). Nothing has been done so far to make it much more systematic.

Once you are over 18 years old you can freely convert to Islam without telling anyone.

Right now, in our country, there have been so many cases which caused those of us who are not Muslims to have that wrong perception that Muslims are out to snatch bodies after their death. I am sure our Muslims brothers and sisters are saddened with this situation as well when we fling all kind of accusations.

One of the reason why this happens is the lack of firm stand by the courts. All the judges in the civil courts do not want to have anything to do with any cases involving Islamic matters. They will pushed it to the Syariah court. Once it is there, non-Muslims have nothing further to say. At the same time, some authorities tend to be over bearing and hence, things get uglier and uglier.

Moreover, the ruling party is using this tool to their benefits. They will seen as champions of the religion, garnering support from Muslims in our country. They could be very faithful to their faith or they are trying to undermine the Islamic party, PAS. Whatever it is, we must remember that our politicians are using religions to be their trump card.

Back to Gan Eng Gor’s case, according to his daughter-in-law, Gan’s eldest son was converted to Islam. Then, upon his death, he made a police report and the bereaved family was told that Gan is a Muslim and hence, his body will be dealt with as a Muslim.

Do you know that if you are a Muslim, you cannot bequeath your properties to your non-Muslims heirs? (food for thought?)

So, if you are the family of Gan’s what do you think you will do? In reality, there is nothing that can be done because legally, Gan is a Muslim. His body has to be buried according to Muslim’s funeral.

And do you think that our Islamic authorities will relent and give the family the proper way to mourn for their deceased father? If you give me the situation to handle, I will say, allow the family of Gan to have a funeral that is void of any funeral rites. No joss-sticks, no prayers but mere time spent in silence. Maybe give them ample time to spend with the deceased before taking the body for burial.

Unfortunately, none of the political parties, both ruling and opposition are going to pause and think of how the family feels. It will be used over and over again as an issue. We are all pawns. The political parties played with our emotions using religion, Allah, God and every thing they can get.

And Gan’s case is not as traumatic as our Everest hero, M. Moorthy. He has a young daughter and his Hindu wife is now worried. M. Moorthy was claimed to convert to Islam when he was in coma in the hospital after an accident. What if some authority one day decided that since M. Moorthy was a Muslim, then, his daughter too should become a Muslim?

Then, there is another case of Subashini. The Islam convert husband and the Hindu wife has a child. Which direction will the child go?

Well, I do not know what I can achieve with this post. However since Jo wrote to me, I shall just paste her email here :

(contents of email has been removed)

I really do not see any solution to this except that we have to be aware of what being a Muslim is like in Malaysia. I can only pray that wisdom will prevails and the Islamic authorities will handle this sensitive case with compassion like how God taught us. If the family cannot perform funeral rites on the late Gan Eng Gor, at least allow them time alone to mourn over the body. As for all the other parties, I hope no one play on the emotions of the bereaved families of Mr. Gan. It is not a matter of fighting. It is important to respect.

For the Muslims, respect Mr. Gan and allow his family to grief. Understand that non-Muslims need time to mourn as we have been brought up to spend time with the deceased before burial/cremation. All the time that Mr. Gan has spent in the morgue is not helping at all.

As for the bereaved family of Mr. Gan, unfortunately, there are legal papers and hence, Mr. Gan is already a Muslim in Malaysia. You have to accept that there are many restrictions with regards to funeral rites. The Muslims usually bury the body very soon after death because their faith taught them that the person has gone to another world and what is left is a body. We have to respect the Muslims faith because it shows their love and belief in God.

For the rest of us, I hope no one point any fingers at the religion. However, note that cases like these are going to appear in future because so long as both ruling and political parties take this as a tool to fight their causes, things will turn ugly. To repeat, the ruling party see this as a good way to undermine the other Islamic party. And the rest of the opposition, they see it as great way to ‘fight’ for the cause.

We are all but pawns.

My condolences to the family of Mr. Gan Eng Gor.

Updated : The body of Gan Eng Gor has been buried as a Muslim and hence, I shall close the comments. Thanks for all the inputs and I hope everyone benefits from looking at both sides of the stories.

19 Replies to “The case of Gan Eng Gor and what we need to know about conversion to Islam”

  1. moo_t – I still want to have the faith that Muslims don’t go around simply converting people. These people must have a free will to do it. And frankly, this is just the Gan’s family business. Don’t give me these sort of highly sensitive comments. How sure are you that all these were done? Don’t bother to leave any comments such as these. Do it on your own with your blog own balls at stake, with your real name and real face, not hiding behind anon. ID and simply flame things up. I am going to delete off your comments. You should know my blog is not a public forum for people to drag religions in like these.

  2. food for thoughts indeed. was mr.gan a wealthy man and now the eldest son is the only one who is legally qualified to inherit all his properties? hmmm…

    5xmom says : I just realized that Catholics too have this baptism for the dying where we can baptised our loved ones just before their death if we are sure that they have embraced the Christian’s faith but didn’t go through the normal RCIA etc. We just need water to pour over their forehead and baptised. So, to be fair, Christians too have baptised very ill people this way and hence, unless we are there to see, we cannot say for sure that these people were converted against their wishes. Maybe in their state, they did agree? I mean, I am just trying to understand the situation. If the Jabatan Agama has taken a softer approach and tell us openly, we may have the compassion to understand too. But everyone will be jumping over everyone to pause and think, no?

  3. this is clearly someone’s effort to claim the wealth of a dead man. and he resort to religion.

    zewt : Or probably the son is sure that that’s his father’s wishes? We shouldn’t speculate, really.

  4. my sister is also a converted muslim after she married her husband who’s a muslim chinese. what will happen after she died i also dunno, but when you’re dead you’re dead. the end, no need to to fight over funeral ceremony.

    wuching : Never mind lor, you wear songkok and sarung only lor and visit her lor. You will look lengjai in sarong and songkok mah. Important thing is not to allow religions to break the family unit and everyone has to give and take a bit mah, right?

  5. I agree with sooi sooi. Something not right with the eldest son. And Wuching is right too. You’re dead means you are dead.
    Oh yes.. can anyone convert themselves if one is not conscious or in coma?

  6. Condolences to the Gan family. May his soul Rest in Peace.

    No comment on religious issues from me. But its not right for a mother to kow tow to the son lah. The ‘Greatest Divine’ would never allow that. Rankings of mothers are on par with the ‘Greatest Divine’. Amen.

    terence : Wise comment. I feel if there is more give and take, then, there won’t be so much animosity.

  7. This issues has gotten out hand..by just a mere claim and without any valid and concrete proof authorities have no right to seize his body!!

    5xmom says : Actually, it is not mere claim. There are legal papers. And since we are not in the Gan’s family, it is hard for us to say that Mr. Gan is not aware.

  8. So there is a probable scenario that the father does not know he was converted by the eldest son. Well he was probably sleeping and the eldest son swiped his thumbprint.

    So I were the father, not knowing that I had knowingly converted to muslim, I still expect my roasted pork for cheng beng right? So as a filial children, I should burn paper money and offer roasted pork for the father right. Just that maybe I do it in a different grave yard.

    neeshen : We cannot say for sure the father doesn’t know. We also cannot assume that way. And let’s say the person is not capable of telling the family and they cause him to live a non-halal life, then, it is not the person’s sin and I am sure God will forgive. And I was taught from small, if we know a person is a Muslim, we have to make sure that we do not cause them to touch or eat anything not halal or our gods will also punish us. So, this is to say, once the decision is final, there is nothing the family can do but to accept.

  9. You must be surprised that Islam teaches that we are born “fitrah” eventhough Christian believe everyone of us are born sinner.

    If we die before we can think or able to decide our own destiny we will be in heaven that is what Islam teaching.

    Everyone of us are muslim unless we chose otherwise or follow the religion of our papa or mama who are not muslim.

    There are more Muslim in China than in Malaysia but due power crazy rulers, bad faith and hatred sons and daughters are fighting over the death body.

    Isn’t there any problem with the dead body if a Hindu become a Buddha or a Buddha become a Christian?

    My condolences to the family of Mr. Gan Eng Gor.

    5xmom says : Thanks for your very enlightening comment. I agree with your point on :

    Isn’t there any problem with the dead body if a Hindu become a Buddha or a Buddha become a Christian?

    I believe too much animosity and fears due to lack of information have caused these matters to get blown out. It is time the religious elders of all the faiths in Malaysia sit down and thrash this, instead of the politicians.

  10. as far as i know, muslim is a very moderate religion. they practice kesabaran. can’t agree more that it has been used by certain parties for their own benefits.

    i somehow suspects that the eldest son must have this planned long time ago. there is a malay saying, “syurga ditapak kaki ibu”. i’m sure even allah will not even forgive him for how he treat his mother!

    what goes around, comes around. and the most unbelieveable thing is that our beloved mount everest conquerer converted to islam when he is in coma? lol… they probably think we were born yesterday!

  11. i was wondering, if gan eng gor is a muslim, what about his wife?

    5xmom says : Non-Muslims are covered by the Constitution (I think Article 11.4) to practice any religion. So, there isn’t much concern here as she is above 18 yrs old. However, for those Muslims converts who have small children, the issue is there and that’s why M. Moorthy’s wife lives with that question hanging. As for the other case, the parents divorced and their child’s welfare is now hanging on both parent’s decision. Be a Muslim or a Hindu? And that’s when the courts, both Civil to protect the Hindu and Syariah for the Muslim father have the decision.

  12. *agree with zewt*

    and i agree..muslim is a religion, just like any other, they have their believes, and we have ours, but they just make it sound so bad in msia

    such cases just proves so…sigh…

  13. Just curious , if Gan enggor is a muslim , I assume his wife has to be otherwise wouldnt that be considered adulterous ??

    romantic : Good question. Assuming a person has converted to Islam, then, yes, he/she has to divorce the non-Muslim’s spouse or the marriage will be annulled. In Malaysia, the Syariah is very strict on this. That’s why I mentioned that Sharukhan (an Indian Bollywood star who is a Muslim) who was in Malaysia was errmmm…disturbed from his sleep because he was sleeping with the Hindu wife in the same room here during his tour in Malaysia.

    That said, there are couples who don’t live in Malaysia who live these kind of inter-religious marriage and they have no problems with the laws they have in that country. That’s why we are talking about this Islamisation issue because the Constitution protects us Non-Muslims the right to practice our choice of religion. And we have to uphold this right or if it is taken away and Malaysia becomes an Islamic State (i.e. all laws will follow Syariah Law), then, that’s it.

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