This is a commentary by one of the most understanding intelligent Malays who is a guest columnist in Rajah Petra's 100% open-minded and wise blog, Malaysia
Today. I would celebrate Malaysia Day this year with pride if he had been one of the judges in the Lina Joy case.
Farouk A. Peru
When I awoke this morning, the name of Lina Joy came to my mind. I don’t know the lady personally nor was I in the country during the time when her lawyer was being threatened but Lina had become a public figure so much so that her case was a barometer of religious tolerance in Malaysia and even expatriates like myself knew of her.
Of course, as I expected, she lost her appeal.
It was hope against all hope anyway. What chance did she have when her case would be used as a precedent and as the word had been circulating, ‘if Lina Joy is allowed to leave Islam, then millions of Muslims would follow suit’. Is the only thing keeping the Malays in Islam the constitutional provision that Malays are automatically Muslims? Would Malays from all walks of life suddenly convert out of Islam the minute that provision is changed?
The Quran tells us:
When comes the Help of God, and the opening, and thou dost see the people enter God's System (deenillah) in crowds, (Al-Fath, 1-2)
‘Deenillah’ is God’s working system, a total system of life which establishes humankind People would want God’s system and to be part of it, owing to its success in the world. Rather, now, we have a situation where there are people who need to be forced to remain in ‘God’s system’. Is this the situation we want? A situation of the opposite nature to a situation where comes the help of God?
Watching Al-Jazeera’s ‘Everywoman’ program, we can see the same thing happening with the case of Ravathi, a woman born to Muslim parents but has chosen to follow her husband in Hinduism, with a child in tow. She has also been taken away by the religious officials and is being ‘rehabilitated’.
I don’t know what they hope to achieve by these measures. Do they expect Lina Joy and Ravathi to suddenly go ‘Eureka, I was wrong all along!’, and suddenly apply to be on Tabung Haji’s list? It won’t happen. Rather, Lina Joy will be even more faithful to her new faith and Ravathi might get her husband to convert to Islam and still live as Hindus so if it’s the statistics they’re going after, they have then ‘saved’ these two ladies.
However, they have lost a million. Through the above cases, other individuals, any non-partisan person who is in the process of researching Islam, will conclude that Islam needs these laws to sustain its numbers. Without these laws, everyone will just leave Islam leaving the clergy with no one to govern! It may not be apparent to these individuals that the Quran itself vehemently opposes such measures. Indeed, in the Al-Jazeera program, we were shown a certain Farid Sufian Shuaib, of the International Islamic University no less, who alleged that the Quran considers apostasy a crime. What can be more heartbreaking that this?
I guess it all boils down to mentality. In that program, the Mufti of Perak didn’t mind using the constitution as it suited to him to define a ‘Malay’ as a ‘Muslim’ but started out saying Islamic law has the apostasy provision. Well, Islamic law also denies creating formulas like ‘Malays equals Muslim’, so why didn’t he have a problem with that, I wonder? Why use something non-Islamic in nature to augment your argument if it is Islamic law you hope to bring forth?
Mufti Harussani Zakaria was quoted in the very same program saying ‘So when we allow all these things (i.e. apostasy), we are FINISHED (emphasis mine). Malaysia is finished’. It is very sad to me that a religious official of his stature and education can formulate such a deduction. Islam is FINISHED when we allow people to leave it?
The Quran tells us:
Assuredly Allah did help you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunain: Behold! your great numbers elated you, but they availed you naught: the land, for all that it is wide, did constrain you, and ye turned back in retreat (At-Taubaa, 25)
From here we can see that it’s not the numbers which makes the Islamic struggle fruitful. Even a billion Muslims can’t do much when their co-religionists were massacred in Bosnia, Chechnya and now Iraq. Numbers don’t mean a thing without faith.
Another verse goes:
If ye help not (your leader), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”.... (At-Taubaa, 40)
This is a great lesson to learn from the Messenger’s pattern of behaviour. He had faith in God even in a situation where he only had one companion.
Yet Another verse tells us:
Abraham was indeed nation unto himself, devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah’ (An-Nahl, 120)
So Prophet Ibrahim is said to be an ummah unto himself. This is the power of pure faith as Ibrahim is always described as ‘a fully-inclined Muslim, never was he an associator’.
Islam is not FINISHED when we scrap this anti-Quranic law, rather Islam takes one step closer towards being originalised, to being the same Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad.
Lina Joy’s tragedy is also the tragedy of the Malay-Muslims of Malaysia. Today, we have walked another step to joining Firaun of the Quran, the arch-oppressor of humankind. Unless we turn back now, the sea will overwhelm us as it did him. We need to realise our folly now and correct it, before time runs out.