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COMMENT | Does religion teach us to be cruel?

COMMENT | When I was growing up in Johor Bahru, I went to an Islamic religious school. I was probably around eight or nine years old. I used to ask a lot of questions and the ustaz (religious teacher) in class would scold me to keep quiet and not to question too much because religion is the word of God. If you asked too much, “nanti jadi gila!” (you will become crazy).

So I lost interest in religious school. I would chit chat with my friends, skip class and play behind the canteen or even just enter other classes and be disruptive. I would get caught by the ustaz and I would usually be made to stand outside the class under the hot sun for most of the school hours.

My parents didn’t know about these punishments. I’m not part of the snowflake generation. I was born in the 1970s so I didn’t run home and cry to my parents about having to stand outside the classroom. But I did tell them about how the ustaz would never entertain my questions.

After two years, my parents took me out of the school and I never went to another systematic religious school again. But I was lucky. My father was very open when it comes to religion and we could ask and discuss anything. Nothing was considered taboo or even blasphemous. He would always say that questioning needs to happen for us to understand better.

I was turned off by religion because of the actions of the religious school I went to. But I regained my interest once my parents took me out. They explained to me that passion for religion (whatever religion and not just Islam) comes from making people love it. Make them hate it and you’re basically just chasing them away.

That’s right! I’m talking about the case where 19-year-old Daniel Iskandar was...

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