I am growing increasingly frustrated at the mealy-mouthed, apologetic bunch of Muslims paraded across our TV screens these days. And just when one lot suddenly wake up, smell the coffee and begin to disagree with US and British foreign policies, another bunch take their place.
The real religious extremists who pose the greatest threat to radicalizing our youth are the Christian Fundamentalists in the White House and Downing Street. Bush and Blair have become al-Qaeda’s finest recruiting officers. More and younger Muslims are waking up with the realization that it is not terrorism or extremism that is being targeted but Islam itself. It is up to the Ummah to lead and inspire our youth, just as the Prophet (P) led and inspired millions and continues to do so.
But why did the Muslim react in such a manner when Pope Benedict repeated something that we are already accustomed to hearing from not so friendly western public figures? After all flamboyant televangelists like Jerry Falwell have said worse things than the Pope –- calling the Prophet of Islam a paedophile and terrorist – yet we never asked for an apology. In the modern era, not least because of the late Pope John Paul II, Muslims have a genuine respect for the head of the Catholic church. The Crusades, the Reconquista, the Inquisitions were far behind us. The Catholic Church with its long history and tradition, its large number of faithful and the authority of its leadership, its unambiguous moral precepts and its liturgies and rites represent what constitutes Christian orthodoxy to ordinary Muslim eyes, as the last bastion against the inexorable march of secularization of western society.
Apostasy, apparently a human rights related issue, is highly sensitive to the multi-racial and multi-religious character of Malaysia. It tends to be problematic, untenable to some, especially when it deals with conversion into and out of Islam. It is true, the whole question involves certain legal and social implications. At times, its repercussions appear to rattle the social solidarity and religious harmony of our peaceful nation. All these threatening consequences are actually caused by ignorance. This writing is not to incite further dissension. Neither is it intended to sound apologetic. On the contrary it calls for all parties directly or indirectly affected by the subject matter, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to view it with an open heart guided by wisdom.
There are those who say that lying and deceiving is at the soul of all crime and that Christianity epitomizes these traits more than any other faith. As proof of their assertion they often quote Paul of Tarsus, arguably the true founder of Christianity, who is recorded to have said, “But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? Any why not do evil that good may come? – as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.” (Romans 3:7-8)