Culture & Religion

What to do if you want to marry a Malay / muslim in Malaysia

Image credit: JaseMan, Creative Commons attribution
Image credit: JaseMan, Creative Commons attribution

Conversion of religion can be a difficult process but love will make you do difficult things! Answering a question from one of our readers – a French non-Muslim female divorcee with kids, in this case – we looked in to the procedure to marry a Malaysian Muslim, including what papers were needed.

It’s often easiest if you convert in your home country, with an official conversion of Islam from the imam at the mosque with signature and stamps. Go to the city Pejabat Nikah (Marriage Office) to register your wedding day and tell the authorities that the couple getting married are a local and a foreigner. It’s often best for the couple to go to the Malaysian person’s local Pusat Islam (Islamic Centre) in the hometown or home district, taking both passports and the certificate of conversion to Islam (and any divorce papers if necessary).

Religious authorities, such as PERKIM or JAWI, or the Syariah Court will also be able to help, as well as the respective foreign embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The court especially can help because there are two sets of governing laws in Malaysia: Syariah and Civil, but for Islamic matters, such as marriage, the Syariah Courts have been given exclusive jurisdiction, after constitutional amendment in 1988.

Other expats’ experiences

One of our readers, a British citizen who married a Malaysian muslim woman, said the following:

“My advice would be for you to get in touch with the local Islamic Authority such as JAWI if you live in Kuala Lumpur. I did my conversion in Malaysia to avoid any complications. Once the conversion is sorted, JAWI will guide you on your marriage procedure. Please bear in mind that your future wife is required to produce original identification papers including a divorce certificate if necessary.”

Another expat reader added:

“I converted years before meeting her, but had no documentation. It’s not a simple process, the rules vary depending on the state. KL rules are different than Selangor, for example. If you marry in Malaysia, both most likely have to take pre-marriage classes. You will need the conversion recognised by JAIS, plus a blood test, Wali, letter from the foreign embassy, letter from immigration for the foreigner, and a few other things.

“It all depends on the State though… they do not all follow the simple rules of marriage according to the Qur’an, there are things added on, lots of them. If you get married overseas, make sure to get prior (written) approval from JAIS. If not, when you return and try to register, they will have to investigate the marriage to determine if it satisfies the rules locally. You will also be fined RM1,000 if you do not get authorisation beforehand.”

Do your research first

It’s a sorry state of affairs but it’s worth saying that, if you haven’t met your potential partner – perhaps you connected only via social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, a dating website, etc), you need to do due diligence to confirm that he / she is who he claims to be. If not, many expats and locals would urge you you to take a step back and do that because far too many people have been scammed by:

a) Men / women simply looking to be sent money
b) Married people lying that they are single
c) People who will agree to convert in order to marry but who have no real intention of becoming practising Muslims (such as not giving up alcohol, pork, etc).

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What about your experience?

Have you had experience with this in the past? We would love to hear more about what happened. Leave a comment below!

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