I recently came across a website where purported apostates from Malaysia told their stories. I am a Singaporean and a proud Muslimah and reading the postings on that website has led me to the conclusion that Malaysian apostates are more angry with the Malaysian government than they are with Islam.
I feel that they think Islam is the problem but only on the way Malaysia bases its policy with regards to it. I have engaged some of these apostates on the website and have been trying hard to show them that it is not Islam that has wronged them but people using Islam as an excuse to impose their will.
I am not writing to you to champion the apostates' cause. I am only doing this so that the Malaysian government may consider reviewing their policy. In Singapore, people can renounce their religion as and when they like it and there is no pressure to practice one belief.
It is wrong to force one to hold on to a religion that one doesn't believe in and this it contradicts the claim that Islam is not about force. Malaysian apostates, however, have confused themselves as to who or what is actually oppressing them and in some way, they have linked this to Islam.
While I respect the Malaysian government of trying to execute Islamic law as well as they can, I think punishing apostates is not relevant anymore. After all, Malaysia doesn't stone to death Muslims caught for adultery, does it? If that can be overlooked, why not apostasy?
I think that there is a 'hadith' saying that whenever we see or know a person of misconduct, we should first use all the authority we have to stop him or her, and if that fails then we have to talk to them and advise them, and if that too fails then we pray for them.
Malaysia has imprisoned and counselled its apostates but if they still choose to remain apostates then I think it is time for government to let them live their life.
Let me stress here that I am not condoning or encouraging apostasy. But I think one should be given the choice to practise one's beliefs. Forcing religion down somebody's throat won't achieve the aim of having good Muslims and Muslimahs - this will only cause hate and contempt towards Islam.
Remember, 'God guides whom He pleases to the right path'.