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Why Muslims have 'bin' or 'binti' in their names
Published on: Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kuala Lumpur: Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed clarified that the NRD inserts the titles of "bin" or "binti" for all Muslim children, regardless of their ethnicity, for legal reasons such as determining lineage for inheritance purposes.

"This is as verification that those children are the biological children (legitimate children) of those who have been attributed Bin/Binti," he said.

The "bin" and 'binti" titles (which mean "son of" or "daughter of") are prefixes to patronyms among Malaysian Malays who are also constitutionally Muslim and who do not usually have surnames or family names.

"Therefore, the use of Bin/Binti for those who are Muslims is very important because it can also determine the nasab (paternity) of those children, which will have an impact on matters relating to mahram (unmarriageable kin), inheritance, guardian and other related laws," he said.

Nur Jazlan also explained the National Registration Dept's "bin" and "binti" policy on Malaysian Muslim children born out of wedlock.

"Through the National Registration Department Order 8/2009 about the Procedure of Registering the Birth of Illegitimate Children for Muslim Couples under the provision of Section 13, Births and Deaths Registration Act (Act 299), the use of Bin/Binti for illegitimate children can only be Bin/Binti Abdullah or Asma Al Husna only.

"They cannot be given Bin/Binti to those who claim to be the biological father of those children," he said.

"This order is based on a fatwa issued by the Fatwa Committee for National Council of Islamic Affairs Malaysia," he said.

In 1981, the Fatwa Committee had decided that an illegitimate child, regardless of whether their birth is followed by the marriage of their parents, shall be given the name with the title "bin Abdullah" or "binti Abdullah".

However, for Sabah and Sarawak natives, the use of Bin/Binti has become a norm in the registration of the names of their children, although they are not Muslims, he said.

Being a Muslim is often closely associated with being Malay in Malaysia despite religious and ethnic identity being separate matters, as the Federal Constitution's Article 160 defines a Malay as being among other things a "person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom".

This has led to problems in east Malaysia, with reported cases of multiple non-Muslim natives in Sabah being wrongly registered by the NRD as Muslims due to the "bin" and "binti" titles in their names.

The prime minister said last November that ways to resolve this issue must be found.

As for the NRD's policy on how the use of the words "bin" or "binti" applies to illegitimate Muslim children, this issue had cropped up in 2011 where some Malaysians had reportedly complained of their premature babies being born less than six months from marriage being assigned "bin/binti Abdullah" and where the Terengganu state government had proposed to the NRD that illegitimate Muslim children be allowed to bear their fathers' names.

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