The marriage of a Malaysian woman, Illi Najwa Saddique, to the captain of India hockey team appears to have become a religious issue
Illi Najwa will be questioned over her religious status once she returns to Malaysia, according to Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Religious Affairs.
The Deputy Minister's statement came after the news about the couple's wedding over the week went viral with several social media users alleging that the Malaysian woman had converted from Islam.
They also claimed that Illi Najwa is the niece of Halimah Mohamed Sadique, who is the Minister of National Unity in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration. While Halimah's Wikipedia page lists Illi Najwa — who is of Pakistani descent — as her niece, the information could not be independently verified.
Ahmad Marzuk said that preliminary information points that Illi Najwa is still a Muslim and that it was her husband who converted to Islam
"The woman is still a Muslim and there was no application to convert to another religion," he was quoted as saying by speaking to the members of media in Kelantan earlier Sunday, 20 December.
"Neither did we receive an application from the woman to get married abroad... the issue will be cleared up once we get an explanation from the woman herself," the Deputy Minister added.
Ahmad Marzuk, however, claimed — without proof — that it was Manpreet Singh Pawar, the captain of India men's national field hockey team, who is said to have converted to Islam late last year.
The 27-year-old Illi Najwa, however, has no plans to return to Malaysia
The Malaysian woman got married to Manpreet Singh at a gurdwara in the Jalandhar city, located in the Indian state of Punjab, as per Anand Karaj, the Sikh marriage ceremony.
Manpreet donned a ceremonial Punjabi wedding suit complete with a turban, while Illi Najwa was wearing a Punjabi bridal costume when they exchanged matrimonial vows on 16 December.
Illi Najwa managed to secure special permission from the Malaysian authorities and India's Minister of Home Affairs to fly to New Delhi, en route to Manpreet's hometown, according to New Straits Times.
She left for India via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on 2 December following the relax border and travel restrictions between India and Malaysia recently.
"She managed to secure a flight ticket to New Delhi after obtaining the necessary government clearance," an International Hockey Federation official was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
She will stay with her husband Manpreet Singh's family in Jalandhar
According to an interview in an Indian news portal, The Tribune, Manpreet, when asked if Illi Najwa would return to Malaysia, said: "She will stay with my family here. She is getting accustomed to the Punjabi culture and has already become fond of it. We have given her a Punjabi name, Navpreet Kaur."
The Tribune interview did not go into details about Illi Najwa's Punjabi name.
Manpreet, meanwhile, shared briefly about his love story.
"We met in 2012 when I had gone to Malaysia for the Sultan of Johor Cup. She was among the spectators. We had a brief interaction and I was carried away by her charm. I managed to get her phone number and stayed in touch. We got engaged in February 2014," he said.
Illi Najwa's mother, Masita, used to play hockey for the Malaysian army.
On the other hand, the issue is under investigation, according to Johor Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairperson Tosrin Jarvanthi
Malay daily Utusan Malaysia reported that Illi Najwa is from Johor.
According to Utusan Malaysia, the issue of her religious status arose after she got married by following religious events other than Islam in her husband's hometown in India.