Apostasy- I wish I had known

I refer to Abdul Rahman Abdul Talib s letter, Apostasy punishment quite clear in texts and particularly his claim that death for apostasy is a punishment that a convert has willingly accepted at the time of his conversion. 'It is not a penalty imposed, rather it is penalty accepted willingly by all converts as part of the teachings of Islam'.

So what about those born Muslims? I wish I had known this before I was born, I may have just opted for an agnostic family. But, of course, no such choice was given and if I were to exercise my right to jump the Islamic dhow , people like Abdul Rahman Abdul Talib will slice off my head.

Regardless of the views of the ulama and even fatwa (religious edicts), it s rather difficult to accept the death penalty for apostasy in this century. It may well have been acceptable in Islam's infancy, but it's a matured religion now and such a martial nature has no place in the world of today.

What has been put forward by people like Abdul Rahman, presents a frightening face of Islam - death, mutilation, honour killings, an 'eye for an eye' all which discourage people from embracing the religion while striking fear in Muslims who would dare think of leaving it.

Switch to the future. I can imagine a time in our country when mobs would seek out apostates in housing estates, apartments, the parks, the KLCC and put them up for public lynching and beheading. What century are we living in?

By the way, I am a Muslim and will continue to be one till the day I die. But I also believe in Article 18 of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance'.