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Wednesday 29th November 2023 / 16 Jamadilawal 1445

Forced conversion and new law, what’s happening in Pakistan?

Demonstrations took place in Pakistan and abroad against several cases of forced conversions. (Photo: New York Times)

Demonstrations took place in Pakistan and abroad against several cases of forced conversions. (Photo: New York Times)

Two days ago today, the Islamic Ideological Council declared several clauses in the draft bill prepared by the Federal Ministry of Human Rights on forcible conversion to be contrary to Islamic law while forcible conversion is becoming a major issue over time. 

The federal law ministry drafted a bill to legislate on forced conversions, but the Islamic Ideological Council has raised a number of objections. The question is, if the law is not made, how will the problem be solved? And if the Shariah principles are violated, then what will be the purpose of being called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Let us consider where the Pakistani nation is going.

Forced conversion and Sharia

Almost every religion and denomination in the world, including Islam and Christianity, gives man the right to choose any religion he chooses. If Islam or any other religion is forcibly accepted, then the requirements of faith cannot be fulfilled, which Islam has made clear from  La Ikraha Fid Deen, which means one will not be forced to accept the religion.

La Ikraha Fid Deen means that there is no coercion or force in religion. The door of Shariah is open for anyone who wants to convert to Islam willingly and wholeheartedly. Forced conversion to Islam gives the impression that Islam is spread by the sword, which is not true.

Legislation 

The sentence of 5 to 10 years imprisonment was proposed for the accused involved in forcible conversion on February 8, 2021, which was presented in the meeting of the sub-committee of the Senate Parliamentary Committee on Forced Conversion.

The committee directed the Ministry of Human Rights and Law to draft the bill within seven days. A 3 to 5-year sentence was also proposed for the facilitator in the case of conversion. Sikandar Mendhro said that minorities complain that religion is changed only for marriage.

Ministry of Human Rights draft and objections

Two days ago today, the Islamic Ideological Council raised objections to the age limit and the method of converting to another religion, citing conflicting provisions in the Ministry of Human Rights Bill. 

The draft states that a person under the age of 18 cannot enter Islam and that an adult must adhere to certain procedures. Judicial certificates, reading religious books, and sitting with scholars were made mandatory for entry into other religions.

The Additional Sessions Judge will fix the date of the interview within 7 days after receiving the application for conversion. The person will appear in court and it will be ensured that the conversion is not due to any pressure, deception, or misrepresentation.

A conversion certificate will be issued 90 days later. The Islamic Ideological Council said that as soon as one converts to Islam, the Shariah injunctions come into force, and a delay of 90 days or less is not appropriate. The state believes that forced conversions are already illegal.

However, the draft law gives the impression that religion is being forcibly converted in Pakistan. There are countless examples of young children converting to Islam. No law can be made in Pakistan that is against Islamic Sharia. 

Analysis of anti-Sharia law

An anti-Sharia law is being made in Pakistan called the Islamic Republic. Leading journalist Ansar Abbasi says that reading the bill prepared by the federal government shows that if it is made a law, conversion to Islam will be banned.

Not only that, but Ansar Abbasi also said that if the bill became law, those who preached Islam would be found guilty. If the law is enforced, people under the age of 18 will not be able to convert to Islam and adults will have difficulty accepting Islam.

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