Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Freedom of Religion and Fear Mongering

I am going to put my cards on the table. I believe in freedom of
religion. Completely. This means that I believe in the right of people to
practice their religion as they see fit and this includes their right to

This is a human right which can be found in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. I also believe that the major religions in the world,
including Islam, also espouse the freedom of religion.

My belief however is not reliant on international law nor is it
reliant on religious doctrine. I believe because faith in my opinion is perhaps
the most personal thing that we as human beings can experience and any attempt
to control it by any authority is not only an insult on our human dignity but
also ultimately utterly and totally pointless.

That is my belief and as far as Malaysia is concerned it amounts to
little more than a hill of beans. In our country there is no complete freedom of
religion. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of everyone to choose their
religion and the Supreme Court has confirmed this, but yet, the practice of the
state governments do not respect this. If you are a Muslim and you convert out
of Islam, in some states you can and will be punished.

The Constitution also allows the control of proselytizing. No
person can proselytize to Muslims if the state government makes the necessary
laws to control such actions. This includes Muslim to Muslim

This is the reality in our country.

In this light, as infuriating as Hasan Ali has been with his claims
of mass proselytizing of Muslims to Christianity, he is actually pointing out a
crime. If what he says has any truth to it.

Apart from the bigger issue that ultimately I am of the opinion
that anyone can proselytize to anyone else if they want to, I have to accept
that the law in this country is that they can’t. My concern with Hasan Ali is
that he is fanning the flames of distrust by claiming, with no evidence
whatsoever that the proselytizing he is claiming to happen is a massive
Christian conspiracy.

It is laughable to think that the Christian community in this
country, with the plethora of restrictions and problems that they have in the
practice of their faith, with the attacks on their publications and the banning
of their Malay language bibles and the difficulties they face with building
their houses of worship, would choose to add to their woes by coming up with a
complex conspiracy which is not only against the law but will also bring
unwanted negative attention on them. Furthermore, what possible good can it gain
the Christian community to take such massive risks? Do Hasan Ali and his ilk
honestly believe that 17 million Muslims in this country will be converted and
the nature of this nation’s character will change? Like I said, it is

The sad thing is that unfortunately there will be enough people who
will be blinded by the rhetoric and take what he says, with little more than a
questionable video which anyone can make, as hard evidence of this massive
conspiracy. Already a decidedly anti-Christian forum has been organised in Johor
which has as its basic theme the idea of a threatening Christian movement to
convert Muslim young.

I have always said that fear mongering by certain Muslims in this
country, those in positions of authority and those with a high public persona,
is nothing more than a smoke screen to hide their own deficiencies. If Muslims
are leaving their religion, and I do not for one second believe that it is a
large phenomenon, then the questions that the religious scholars and authorities
should be asking is where are we going wrong? Islamic teaching is all pervasive;
so there is no shortage of that, so perhaps they are doing it wrong. Instead of
pointing fingers to some ludicrous conspiracy, they need instead to look deep
into themselves.

This country teeters on the edge of an ethnic and religious schism.
This need not be so. We have more in common than we have differences and we need
to work together in peace to ensure a good future for all of us. I agree with
Abdul Rani Hasan of PAS, that there are far more pressing matters in this
country to worry about. The last thing we need are people who sow the seeds of
division for reasons, I am glad to say that I do not have the warped capacity to


Tiger said...

I respect your bravery for stating your belief.
Unfortunately, you are 1 in 100,000.
There is no point in calling oneself a Muslim when you don't believe in pahala and dosa.
Or you act without taqwa.
This refers to some people you can immediately think of.
So I believe Muslims being murtad is the least of our country's concern.
Most important is how we can increase civility and improve our country in terms of culture and economy.

dukuhead said...

that's malaysia for you - divided and rule.

paireen said...

I LOVE YOU MAN! I agree with Tiger, you are 1 in a 1,000,000.. perhaps more than that.
I really believe that everyone is entitled to their rights. Have you noticed the adverts playing in the radio? The one that says "EVERYONE GOT RIGHTS, EVEN LITTLE CHILDREN"? Well, I want to actually see if it happens here, in this country.
But that's just my 2 Cents... is it worth it?

Amirah Ali said...

Hi Tiger, it is our concern as well besides culture and economy because it effects our lives, both Muslims and non-Muslims. Muslims are forced to be governed under the Shariah Laws in Malaysia even if they do not believe in it and do not want to be governed by it and cannot leave the religion. It also effects many non-Muslims who want to marry a Muslim spouse, someone they truly love, but they cannot.

Amirah Ali said...

Hi Azmi,

I also wanted to share with you a song I wrote about this. Do keep on doing what you are doing.

Sailing the Sahara:

Katakanlah (About the Kalimah Allah issue)