Why The Verdict On Religious Conversion Isn’t Surprising

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.

5 thoughts on “Why The Verdict On Religious Conversion Isn’t Surprising

  1. Random: I read somewhere that she was now in Australia. I hope she has a better life there than she would have had here.

  2. Yeah. Even though she lost (the odds were way stacked against her), you have the admire the sheer determination and guts she had, even with people sending her death threats. She could have made things easier on herself by paying lip service to Islam and practice her Christianity in secret, as most Christian Malays do, but she decided to take a stand.

    She’s a freakin’ hero.

  3. I just don’t get why the government want her to be a Muslim in IC only. She obviously has made her choice. What does one word in an identity card got to do with anything?

    Way too much hassle just because of one word on a plastic card.

  4. Pat: Haha. Hey wait, I’m in Australia too! Hmm. 🙂

    Jeffrey: Small things with a big heart. If that’s what great things are about. Imagine big things with a big heart. 🙂

    Azmeen: So that people still know she’s officially Muslim? God knows. But the emphasis of our identity cards in Malaysia still holds a lot of bearing to it. It might be a word to us, but to the system it’s who and what we are.

  5. Yes… what a sad day for Malaysia. The court verdict against Lina Joy has destroyed her (and every other Malaysian’s) bid to have her (and their) religious choice be seen as a matter of personal conscience rather than a state imposed obligation. Whilst the angry young men rejoice and shout “Allah-o-Akbar”, the Muslim religion again trumps the constitution and provides yet another early indication that the cracks are widening in this so called rights based democracy.

    This verdict and other sad cases such as that of Subashini Rajasperhaps, may mean that the country’s tourist promotion board needs to rework its “Truly Asia” campaign. Perhaps now they need to market as ‘Malaysia truly Arabia’. Actually the government sometime back removed its English street names so it should be no problem for them to re-brand KL as the centre of “ASIARABIA” and perhaps they could call it ‘Riyadh Lumpur’. Oh yes and of course Putrajaya could become Meccaminor.

    Now get the tune in the head and its… Malaysia…. truly Arabia… yessssirrrr sounds great.


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