Sisters In Islam (SIS) Can Finally Keep Its Name
In March last year, the Dewan Pemuda Masjid Malaysia, known in English as the Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth (MAMY), filed a police report against the women’s advocacy group, Sisters in Islam, alleging that Sisters in Islam is not the lawful name of this organization. In October last year, the Malaysian High Court threw out the challenge by MAMY. MAMY then decided to appeal against the High Court’s ruling. But now Sisters in Islam can keep its name, because MAMY had decided to withdraw its appeal.
About The Case
Mohd Taqiuddin Abdullah, the executive director of the Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth (MAMY) filed an affidavit to support its case that Sisters in Islam should not be allowed to use this name. Among the reasons stated in the affidavit were:
1. The official name of the organization as registered with the Registrar of Companies in 1988 is SIS Forum (Malaysia), and not Sisters in Islam. The use of the name Sisters in Islam in its website is therefore misleading and without basis.
2. According the its Memorandum of Association, SIS Forum (Malaysia) is described as a secular movement supporting equal rights for both men and women. It has nothing to do with Islam.
3. SIS Forum (Malaysia) did not have permission to use the word “Islam” in its name, and has thus committed an offense under the Companies Act 1965.
4. That SIS Forum (Malaysia), being a secular movement, is confusing Muslims by calling itself Sisters in Islam.
The High Court Ruling
Last October the High Court ruled in favor of Sisters in Islam. It essentially disagreed with the Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth (MAMY) that Muslims in Malaysia are confused by the name Sisters in Islam. But more importantly, the High Court ruled that Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth had no locus standi to file the complaint.
Reacting to the High Court ruling, Taqiuddin Abdullah said: “We will file an appeal. We are urging the religious authorities to take up a case since they have the legal standing.”
The Appeal That Vaporized
But now the Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth has decided to withdraw the appeal. Why this is so is not known. Perhaps the religious authorities didn’t want to take up the case, leaving MAMY with no choice but to withdraw the appeal, since it has no legal standing in this case.
Reacting to this news, Sisters in Islam issued this statement: “Sisters in Islam (SIS) welcomes the withdrawal of the appeal by Dewan Pemuda Masjid Malaysia (Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth, MAMY) against the High Court decision to strike off MAMY’s application for a court order to stop SIS from using its pen-name, ‘Sisters in Islam’. SIS maintains its position on the importance of civil dialogue to address differences of opinions in any democratic society, and remains concerned over the use of police reports and frivolous suits as intimidation tactics to silence progressive voices.”
Concluding, the statement said: “SIS hopes this victory will only be one of many that will show the way towards the realization of justice and equality for all.”
Meanwhile, NewYork-based Women Deliver has recently released its latest global advocacy list of 100 most inspiring people around the world. This list is in recognition of people who are actively advocating the rights of women and girls. Zainah Anwar, the founder of Sisters in Islam is one of 2 women from Malaysia to be included in this latest list. Commenting on this, Zainah Anwar said: “It is an honour for Sisters in Islam’s work to be recognised at the global level. Our work breaks the myth that Muslim women are oppressed and victimised, and further breaks the myth that Islam is inherently a religion that discriminates against women.”
The other Malaysian women in this list is Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who is also a board member of Sisters in Islam. She said: “I am very honoured to be named in the list. I think it’s nice that Malaysia is recognised. It makes people aware of Malaysia and we get international recognition. People will also take us more seriously.”
Think About It
Sisters in Islam was very vocal during the caning case of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, which probably irritated MAMY. Now that MAMY has withdrawn its appeal, and Sisters in Islam can continue to use its name, more can be done for the benefit of women and girls. Would it have make sense for MAMY to continue with its appeal against Sisters in Islam when its founder and board member have been named as the only 2 Malaysians on Women Deliver’s global advocacy list of 100 most inspiring people around the world?