Are We Really Free to Convert?

Earlier this morning I saw one article being virally shared on Facebook regarding one figure calling for freedom for Muslims to murtad. Any news on Facebook is questionable and doubtful, so I chose to do my research first, and found out it was invalid. Despite the invalidity, I feel called to pour some of my two-cents pertaining to freedom of religion. But first of all, I hope you are reading this with an open mind and feisty-pants too are most welcomed, because really this is my point of view to share the least of my knowledge about our laws with duly respect not intending to condemn anyone, any kind. Alright, so here goes.

Freedom of religion as per guaranteed in Article 11 Federal Constitution does not merely referring to the freedom to profess and practice what a religion addresses, but the real gist of the provision that is often taken for granted by most people is to respect and honor the teachings of a religion. Taking Islam for example, where renunciation of faith among its believers is strictly forbidden then this is one element compulsory to be respected by everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims.

When our Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion (bear in mind that it’s not an absolute right anyway), it does not mean someone is free to be “in and out” of a religion at any time especially Islam that hinders renunciation of faith. Like today a Muslim, tomorrow is not, no that’s not how it rolls. A simple formula to demonstrate our freedom of religion is an individual being a believer of religion A, then he is free to practice religion A without any kind of interference from believer of religions B, C or D. That’s why in the case of Lina Joy, Federal Court uphold the action of Jabatan Pendaftaran not to drop down the word “Islam” on her ID. Because this is the morale message the judiciary wished to deliver to everyone pertaining to the real gist of Article 11, freedom of religion.

Sadly, interpretations made by the laymen diverted quite a distance from the earlier one held by the judiciary. Whilst the liberal ones prefer the interpretation which allows people to be in whatever religion he prefers, the close-minded ones regards our law to cross the acceptable limit of liberalism hence put the blame onto government at the end of the day. This is a misguided concept Malaysians are gripped to, so it’s about time for us to understand the real concept of Article 11. Renunciation of faith is not in any means encouraged in Article 11, in fact when Article 11(4) is inserted which prohibits the propagation of any religious doctrine of belief among person professing the religion of Islam, it cannot be anymore obvious regarding government’s seriousness in combating murtad. Even when COA held the insertion of the word “Allah” in The Harold’s production is wrong, it is none other than to combat murtad on the plane of Article 11. Allowing the production to do so means to further enhance complication and confusion among Muslims, as it goes with prevention is better than cure. Always.

Believe me, I used to be in the same bandwagon that opted to criticize our laws, but as I learn more day by day, it is fair to say that our laws are among the good ones. Of course far from perfection but our people are really good in twisting its literacy, hence comes the confusion. Whilst the administrative branches are still learning to improve laws, let’s conduct ample research to sow better understanding on laws within ourselves then our words are more fruitful in the near future.


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