As I’ve said before, I am not a Christian. I consider myself a “born-again Agnostic,” with no hostility towards Christianity that shackles a great many non-believers — I respect it, it just doesn’t work for me. But that gives me what I consider an unbiased perspective towards matters when religions clash.
The story of Abdul Rahman, the Afghani currently facing death for the sin of apostasy — renouncing his Islamic faith — is a prime example. Under Shariah law (which I discussed a little while ago), any Muslim who leaves the faith is condemned to death. Period. It matters not if they become a Christian, as Mr. Rahman did, a Hindu, a Buddhist, an Athiest, or join The Church Of The Second Coming Of The Great Prophet Zarquon — once they say they are no longer a Muslim, they are to be killed.
That’s what’s going on in Afghanistan right now. Abdul Rahman, after years of hiding his faith, has admitted that he converted to Christianity over a decade ago, and no longer follows the tenets of Islam. This, to many Muslims, including many who hold the reins of temporal power, is a grave insult to their God and can only be punished by death.
Some have started looking into loopholes, into ways Rahman might be spared. One possible dodge is to declare him insane, since Shariah law forbids executing crazies, and instead exiling him.
For his sake, I hope that works. And while I would like to have as dispassionate and reasoning head on my shoulders as the inestimable Dafydd Ab Hugh (who is also a damned good novelist), I think there’s a deeper issue here, one that could undo years of work towards bringing Islam out of the dark ages.
What is being said by mainstream Muslims in Afghanistan (and around the world) is that Islam is infinitely superior to all other faiths. That anyone who could accept Islam and then later renounce it has only two possible motives: they are evil and must be killed, or they are insane. They cannot and will not accept the possibility that a person, not inspired by evil or madness, could find Islam lacking — and the threat to their temporal power such an action would be is so great as to merit the ultimate sanction.
The death sentence of Mr. Rahman is the actions of a religion of cowardice. It symbolizes their utter terror at losing control, and their sense of inferiority to other faiths. They see no other way to maintain their dominance over their followers but at the point of the sword. They fear that they cannot win through appeals to reason, or spirituality, or human kindness — only force will keep the flock in line.
And it is a grave insult to every other faith in the world. It is saying to them that Islam is the only true faith, and those who reject it are ignorant, evil, or insane. And once people have been “exposed” to Islam, the ignorant excuse is no longer acceptable. It is a declaration of theological war.
But will it be fought? And how?
I don’t know.