Sometimes we need a reminder of the cost of being a Catholic. In Malaysia, a woman who converted from Islam to Catholicism is facing death threats and a trial. Lina Joy became a Catholic and now wants to marry another Catholic, but instead she’s been charged with apostasy under Islamic Shari’a law.
Malaysia has been governed for more than a half century by a tradition of civil law passed on by former British colonial rulers. A separate shariah, or Islamic, legal system has co-existed with civil law specifically to govern the religious lives of Muslim citizens, who are mostly ethnic Malays. About 40% of the population is ethnic Chinese, Indians and other minorities of other faiths.
But conservative Islam’s rise as a political force in the 1980s and 1990s has propelled pro-Western Malaysia—and its legal system—on a steady swing to the religious right. The government has ceded some powers once held by the civil-justice system to the shariah courts.
Ignoring the “religious right” crack for the moment, let’s pray for Lina and keep in mind that this shows us the character of Islam as a religion. Michelle Malkin quotes an Islamic scholar on why allowing conversions is so bad that it merits death threats.
“If Islam were to grant permission for Muslims to change religion at will, it would imply it has no dignity, no self-esteem,” said Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad, senior fellow at Malaysia’s Institute of Islamic Understanding. “And people may then question its completeness, truthfulness and perfection.”
We’re questioning it now already. This is why it’s important to make the distinction when people say that the word “Islam” means “peace,” what it really means—in the context and language—is “submission.” For Muslims, submission of one side to the other is the only kind of peace.
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