Malaysia (MNN) — Malaysia’s top court recently struck down over a dozen Shariah-based state laws, saying they infringed on federal authority. Islamist leaders decried the decision, saying it would “undermine” religious courts.

“It seems not so much that they are overturning Sharia law, but the states can’t pass their own version of Sharia law,” Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says.

“The state that passed these (controversial) laws [said,] ‘We want to enforce these laws the way we see them in our part of the country,’ and the federal government is saying, ‘No, you’re not allowed to do that; you’re not allowed to set your own separate standards.’”

Malaysia flag (Photo courtesy of Mkjr/Unsplash)

Instead, the top court solidified the presence of Islamic law in Malaysia by ruling that “Sharia law is established for the whole country, and it is the federal courts that will enforce that, not the states,” Nettleton adds.

Believers from a Muslim background are called apostates under Sharia law. Unfortunately, “it doesn’t seem like this ruling is going to change the situation on the ground for a Muslim convert,” Nettleton says.

“At the same time, it’s not going to make it worse for an ethnically Chinese Christian or someone from one of those minority groups seen as a Christian to start with.”

While Christianity is not illegal in Malaysia, Christians are marginalized by the ruling Muslim ethnic group. More about that here. It is illegal for ethnic Malays to convert to Christianity because they are all considered Muslim under Malaysian law.

“One of the ways we can pray is for the Gospel to spread among ethnic Malay people,” Nettleton says.

“Yes, it’s illegal. Yes, it’s difficult. But we can pray that our brothers and sisters in Malaysia will have access to the Good News.”


Header image depicts the main entrance of the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Wikimedia Commons)