For many people in Malaysia, the Lina Joy case is well known. For a Muslim woman to officially remove “Islam” from her identity and formally convert to Christianity in Malaysia, this case is hallmark of the fine line between religious freedom and religious imprisonment. So when it was announced yesterday that Lina Joy cannot officially remove her status as a Muslim, how is it a surprise to anyone that something like that would happen?
On one hand, you have the fundamentally religious singing praises for a Muslim to stay a Muslim. On the other hand you have the other side of the equation who feels that this verdict is an outrage to religious freedom and a hypocrisy the country wears like a bad corsage. It’s obvious that this issue isn’t going to have any middle ground. When you think about how Malaysia is an Islamic country, do you really think that the people in charge are going to let someone just up and convert out of their religion especially when it’s tied to the socio-political and economic stance of the nation? There is a lot for Malays to lose when that happens.
Given the hypocrisy for religious freedom to all except Muslims, it’s neigh possible for a born Muslim to choose anything else but being a Muslim. We may have our perks in the system, but if those perks come at a cost of a lifetime of dogmatic worship and archaic rules, then you better be ignorant to the world because that’s the only way to think that’s the better option compared to what’s out there.
In a way, I have to sympathize and admire the Lina Joy’s case, even if that case was indeed the loosing battle. She would have known that there isn’t a chance in hell that the court would legally allow her to rescind her religious status as a Muslim. She would have received the scorn of parochial and narrow-minded fundementalists along the way. She would have known that her life would be hard once she took that road to openly convert. I don’t mind if somewhere along the line, she gives up and converts back to Islam because of the intense scrutiny. I don’t blame her. She’s already won brownie points in my book for going this far.
She had hope. She had support of the people that believe in her. She had love by her side. Even if I can’t pretend to know whether her reasons to convert was because she really had faith in Christ or because she changed for the sake of another person, she did something a lot of us wouldn’t dare do. She dared to go against the system. For better or worse, that speaks volumes on the kind of character she is. The kind of example that sets a standard for all that will fight for what they believe in.
At all costs, till the day we die.