(Azly Rahman writes on Islam and the ISA)
Don’t imprison apostates!
Science without religion is lame … religion without science is blind.
(Physicist and pacifist, Albert Einstein)
There is no compulsion in religion. (The Quran)
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America, a guide and pillar of stability for many of our people… (Former First Lady Hillary Rodman Clinton, Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1996)
...there is much that the world can learn from Islam. It is now practised by one of every four people on Earth. (Former US President Bill Clinton, White House Eid ul-Fitr presentation, Jan 10, 2000)
Why propose the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on apostates, as suggested by some Malaysian Islamic scholars? Why not study why they leave the religion?
Why not use ESA - “education for spiritual awareness” – to develop the children’s interest and commitment to the faith, through gentle persuasion, not through threatening to throw them in jail without trial, or hang them to death for treason.
Instead of jailing 10,000-25, 000 Muslims who have allegedly left the
religion, why don’t we begin by radically improving our method of teaching teachers to teach Islam. By producing effective Islamic religious teachers who can speak well to the children of this Millennial generation, we can do better than scare people off learning about the profound teachings of
Perhaps those teaching them about Islam are ill-equipped in knowledge and skills about Islam.
Perhaps these teachers do not have much in-depth knowledge about the philosophies of other religion and ethical systems. It is time for them to begin reading about transcultural philosophies that form the foundation of a multi-cultural/multi-religious society such as Malaysia.
Perhaps they do not spend their time understanding the mind of the youth of today and the complexity of our time to contextualise the religion and to find ways to stimulate the thinking of these youth about Islam.
Perhaps they have not been introduced to the life stories of those who convert to Islam – revolutionary leaders such as Malcolm X; sportsmen such as Muhammad Ali; musicians such as John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Michael Jackson; scholars such as Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall; poets such as WS Rendra; and comedians such as Dave Chapell.The problem we have in society is that we look at each other’s religion not only with animosity but also as a reason to imperialise each other. We fail to go deeper into realising that a Muslim must believe that the truth and guidance is ‘sent down’ to all nations and that Muslims must believe that the message of peace – Islam – has been taught since the beginning of humanity, since the beginning of Prophet Adam (PBUH).
Dr. Azly Rahman,
Educator & Adjunct Professor;
Foundations of Civilizations, Education, & Politics