This refers to the plethora of articles on Lina Joy in malaysiakini.
The hadith of Islam says "Whosoever changes his religion, kill him."
Naturally some hardline Muslims embrace this rather harsh punishment, whilst on the other side of the fence, many non-Muslims in Malaysia have raised concerns for Lina Joy, as the Federal Court has just ruled (2 – 1) against her appeal to remove her religious status of Muslim from her IC. The Court wants her to get approval from the Syariah Court before she may have that done.
As she has already declared herself as a Christian, and she is now legally confirmed as still a Muslim, that makes her an apostate.
However, only a few Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia has the death penalty for apostasy, while according to Islamic scholars only male apostates would face capital punishment while females a life sentence.
Islamic scholars also remind us of the historical context of the hadith on apostasy. It was issued during a time when a new emerging Muslim community in Medina was fighting in perilous circumstances against its enemies.
Naturally they feared their enemies would entice their followers to jump ship. Thus the hadith was against political treason rather than a religious one.
The Qur'an (2:256) actually says: Let there be no compulsion in the religion: Clearly the Right Path (Islam) is distinct from the crooked path.
In a similar manner, the reason behind Article 121(1)(A) was political. The case of Abdul Rahim in the 1980’s was the galvanising force that developed the legal constraint on the civil court, for it not to make rulings on Muslim issues.
But cases like Abdul Rahim were rare – yes, not entirely absent but rare. There were also less polemics and aggravation as the ones we see today. It would be the rare Melayu who left his or her religion.
Why then does this current feeling of siege exist amongst many Muslims?
I suspect it all started when someone in Malaysia allowed millions of migrants to slip into our country, thinking, hey, it’s great the number of Malay Muslims would be increased. Little did they realise, or perhaps overlook, that it’s only in Malaysia that Malays must be and thus would be Muslims.
What had happened then was that among the millions of Muslim illegal migrants (who subsequently became legal residents) were some Christians and a smaller number of Hindus.
Now, get this whether you like it or not, but some religions are missionary, meaning their followers have an obligation to spread the good word. Whether the words of God are from the Muslim, Christian, Bahai God or or even the god of the Jehovah Witnesses, these must be spread.
So in KTemoc’s opinion, that’s where Christianity took hold in the Malay community and started to slowly spread among them. It hasn’t reached ‘critical mass’ yet, but there’s now real concerns among the Muslim leaders.