Psalm 86:15 (New Living Translation)
“But you, O Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love and truth.”
There’s a piece of disconcerting news from Afghanistan. Abdul Rahman, who years ago converted from Islam to Christianity, is being prosecuted as an apostate and faces the death penalty if convicted of the “crime.”
According to a report by ABC News:
“Relatives denounced him as a convert during a custody battle over his children, and he was arrested last month. The prosecutor says Rahman was found with a Bible.”
In response to the international outcry over Rahman’s plight, the judge in the case is now trying to find more amenable solutions. One would be to declare Rahman insane:
“Presiding judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah tells ABC News a medical team was checking the defendant, since the team suspects insanity caused Rahman to reject Islam.”
“We want to know that the doctors have given him a green light on his mental state, because he is not normal when he talks,” says the judge.”
The other would be to ask Rahman to recant:
“We will ask him if he has changed his mind about being a Christian,” Mawlazezadah says. “If he has, we will forgive him, because Islam is a religion of tolerance. (my emphasis added)”
Oh, the depths of mercy!
I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I do know that what we in the west view as barbaric is seen as normative religion to many in the Muslim world:
“To everyone acquainted with Islamic law it is no secret that according to Islam the punishment for a Muslim who turns to kufr (infidelity, blasphemy) is execution. Doubt about this matter first arose among Muslims during the final portion of the nineteenth century as a result of speculation. Otherwise, for the full twelve centuries prior to that time the total Muslim community remained unanimous about it. The whole of our religious literature clearly testifies that ambiguity about the matter of the apostate's execution never existed among Muslims. The expositions of the Prophet, the Rightly-Guided Caliphs (Khulafa'-i Rashidun), the great Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet, their Followers (Tabi'un), the leaders among the mujtahids and, following them, the doctors of the shari'ah of every century are available on record. All these collectively will assure you that from the time of the Prophet to the present day one injunction only has been continuously and uninterruptedly operative and that no room whatever remains to suggest that perhaps the punishment of the apostate is not execution.”
This is not what we signed up for when we liberated Afghanistan. We aren’t shedding our blood and expending our treasure so that a re-constituted Taliban can oppress the people we liberated.
I understand that Afghanistan is a Muslim nation, but the religious and political leaders there need to understand that freedom of conscience is not a capital offense. As a Christian, I have no desire to convert to Islam, but if a fellow Christian did so, I would not find it a capital offense. I’ve told Muslim friends many times in the past that the best place for the debate between the two religions to take place is in the great marketplace of ideas. Executing those who convert from one to the other religion is not in keeping with that ideal. In fact, it’s barbaric!
As was noted in this morning’s issue of Spiegel online:
“This is in no way merely a domestic matter -- it is a question of the validity of international human rights. When a Danish newspaper published a few more or less idiotic cartoons, Islamic rage flared up. Now that human lives and basic rights are at issue, we're hearing statements that could just as easily have been made during the Cold War. Back then, the phrase "domestic affairs" was invoked by the Soviet empire every time the West criticized its human rights record. What concerns Abdul Rahman and the women of Afghanistan concerns us too.”
The Muslim world must hear our voices. It’s not enough to be told to stop meddling in the affairs of a Muslim country. The politicians and religious leaders of Afghanistan and other Muslim nations must be held to account for these, and other, violations of basic human rights.
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