And I thought that I wouldn’t have anything to write about today either… All I had to do was cast a cursory glance on the South Asia news (as one does) and come across the trial of Abdul Rahman, a 41 year-old Afghani who is faced with the death penalty for converting to Christianity from Islam some 15 years ago (I’m not sure why this has only surfaced now).
According to the Q’ran, it is a sin for a Muslim to convert to any other religion, and the penalty is death, unless the “infidel” recants and returns to Islam. This, by the way, is part of the Shariah law upon which the Afghani constitution is based.
You can imagine the hornets’ nest this has stirred, especially after that little incident with the “blasphemous” cartoons, that got a few dozen people across the world killed. On the one hand, Afghanistan is protesting its right to follow its own laws and keep its judiciary system independent from the executive power of the government (which is generally a good idea).
On the other hand, every single human rights organisation has gotten up in arms to urge the Afghani government to uphold Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning freedom of thought, conscience and religion, since Afghanistan is a state party to it.
And as happens often these days, we lose sight of the forrest for all of the pissed-off people on each side.
Now, I don’t know if Mr Rahman is a real Christian or not – all I have read is that he claims that he believes in the Trinity. However, I do hope that he is genuine, not only because I myself am a Christian, but also because he’s risking too much.
I could write a lot about this. If I were to be completely secular, rightist and a bit cynical about it, I could talk about the fact that the anti-west protesters should consider who is currently paying their bills, and why they actually have a government and judiciary system to shout about. I could quote Ansarullah Mawlafizada, the trial judge who won Nik’s “Contradiction of the Week” award for saying: “The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back. Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told [Abdul Rahman] if he regrets what he did, then we will forgive him”.
Likewise, I could ask with Muslim BBC reader M. M. Zaman, if Muslims are “so insecure of [their] religion that [they] have to threaten or kill people to stop them from converting or criticizing [their] religion?”. This is an honest question, coming from someone who, admitedly, knows little of Islam (me).
But I won’t, not for fear of getting myself in trouble or doing my part in stirring the aforementioned hornets. I won’t, because, in my personal opinion, opening yet another debate on Society and Religion is nothing short of useless. But I would like to go back to Mr Rahman, who is currently in danger of becoming a martyr (there – I said it).
Jesus taught that His folowers would be persecuted around the world, and the apostles confirmed that on numerous occasions, not only in writing, but also with their lives. The idea is, if Jesus Himself was hated and persecuted, those who follow Him will be in danger of the same fate too. It makes sense, even in this day and age (like the rest of the Bible – don’t listen to those lazy “Higher Criticism” voices).
See, the problem with Christianity is that it stands out from all other religions like a hippy in a golf club. I’ve said it a million times on this blog and I’ll keep saying it: Christianity is not a religion, because it is not based on human merit. It’s not about what we should do to make things right with God, but what God has done in Jesus Christ to make things right with us. Why? It’s called “love”, a concept apparently lost on most of the world.
So, Christianity is not a religion, although many have unfortunately twisted and degraded it into nothing more than that. And that’s what causes all those “evil Church” notions that often lie at the foundation of today’s plastic, user-friendly atheism.
There is no battle of the faiths, my friends. Just a big, stupid war of arrogance, ignorance, bitterness and manipulation. And Abdul Rahman is one of those souls caught in the middle of it. I will be praying: peace for him, and wisdom for those around him. The rest, is up to God.
These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. – John 15:17-19
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you – Matthew 5:11-12
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” – Romans 8:35-36 (quoting Psalm 44:22)