Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shotgun religion

Shotgun religionIslam continues to be plagued by extremists among its midst who very loudly and insistently push their religious agenda through the barrel of a gun, or should we, in keeping with the times and reality say, 'the cannister of a bomb'? With September 11 around the corner, we can expect these religious fanatics to want to commemorate the occasion with a couple of their own bombing exploits to hasten their entry into heavenly bliss.

Besides death and destruction, some of these extremists also wish to convert people to Islam through the barrel of the same gun. American Fox News journalists, Mr Steve Centanni, 60, an American correspondent, and his freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, a New Zealander, who were later released, were reportedly at the wrong end of a gun when they 'converted' to Islam. I am not sure that both reporters have the conviction to remain Muslims, unless they are forced to look down the barrel of a gun again.

Adherents of Islam are exhibiting some rather oppressive behaviour in recent times. But since most of them are extremists to start off with, though one cannot understand their worldview, their actions are not surprising. What is surprising is that Islam can be oppressive even when it arises from the law of the land.

It was reported recently in Malaysia that a woman, aged 26, had renounced her Muslim faith to become a Christian. Nothing wrong with that in a country that professes freedom of religious beliefs. She legally changed her name to Lina Joy, but the State would not allow her to change her stated religion on its records, which remains Islam. Well, one can live with that too, I suppose. If one's faith is true, it really doesn't matter what others say, or what the National Records office states. Well, that is turning out to be a nightmare, it seems. Because her official religion is still recorded as Islam, she cannot marry a non-Muslim. Sadly, we are not talking about an extremist body anymore, but the Islamic Courts in Malaysia. What can be more legitimate than that? According to Syariah Law (Islamic Law Court), a Muslim cannot marry a non-Muslim. So we have a situation where a Christian cannot marry a non-Muslim because she is deemed still a Muslim although the law granted her a name change to reflect her new religious beliefs.

Islam is suffering from multiple identity disorder today. Do we ever wonder why Islam, both of the extremist and state-sponsored types, conjures up suspicion and distrust nowadays? It is not a Western-worldview problem anymore. Before it sets out to rule the world, it had better sort out its identity and existence in its own back yard first.

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