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I am writing in response to Aleesha's letter ( Those who refuse to convert are a selfish lot ). I cannot help but realise that there is a thick irony to the very title of her letter.

Those who wish to marry a Muslim are required to convert by syariah law. We can safely assume the non-Muslim party was brought up according to certain values and beliefs (even atheism is a belief, though indeed it is literally a godless belief). Now this non-Muslim in my scenario is truly a stubborn person, and perhaps that's what brought the two lovebirds together in the first place.

However, this lover is so stubborn that he/she will not even consider the possibility of conversion, thus damning all hope of matrimonial bliss to depths that would make hell look like a mere pothole in the ground. Truly, this person is selfish to the core, as he/she would not give up the small matter of printed words on an IC (identity card) for a lifetime (and afterlife) of happiness.

The irony of this situation is that there is a mirror situation that is a parallel of the former except that in the end, selfishness holds sway. Let us imagine the same two lovebirds but with a crucial difference, the non-Muslim is an extremely accommodating and gentle person. He/she is no less madly in love now than if he/she was stubborn. The love of this lover is so vast, and so deep that with his/her companion, all the (secular) world can be swept aside and cast to the winds.

However, the parents of the non-Muslim disapprove of their child's conversion. This is their precious baby and to lose him/her is surely more than their heart could bear. Truly, this person is selfish to the core, as he/she would exchange mere printed words on an IC for a lifetime (and afterlife) with his/her family, friends, and community.

My example is imperfect as of course, a religion is much, much more than words on a piece of plastic. But the example holds no matter what words I use in place of "printed words on plastic".

Nonetheless, I mean no harm by my letter. I merely wish to point out to Aleesha that her position does seem biased against one argument, neglecting the other, and reflecting her feelings, if not her rationality, on the issue.

On a separate point, I feel almost apologetic for all the atheists I know who are upstanding, moral citizens of the world without the need for divine guidance. I feel they have been badly wronged and as a friend I feel compelled to make a defence on their behalf. The writer seems keen to imply that all evils in the world are caused by a lack of religion. This hardly seems fair to me.

I would venture to make a philosophical argument. I begin by proposing that taking lives is evil. I understand that no religion dare propose otherwise. I also propose that spreading religion is good. Again no religion would propose otherwise. However, if lives are taken while religion is being spread (which has happened before), there is great ambiguity on whether it is evil. If we are rational we must conclude spreading religion is evil.

In this way, we can make a simple argument that being an atheist is morally superior to being religious. Obviously by removing a reason for taking lives, we reduce the total number of lives taken, thereby vanquishing evil from the face of the earth. How then can one argue that a lack of religion is the case of many/most/all evils in the world?

Again this is vastly over-simplified but it serves my purpose. We cannot equate the godless with the evil.

I believe the reason we as human beings accept religion into our lives because we seek truth, not the other way around. We do not accept truth because we seek religion that just doesn't make sense.

As Plato once said: "I love my teacher, but I love truth more." I will never deny my family, friends and children from having the opportunity to seek truth on their own. It is their journey and their responsibility to do so. It is a beautiful thing that a human being is able to find truth and good in the fascinating but confusing, seductive but deceptive world around us.

Aleesha, perhaps the non-Muslim lover of a Muslim just needs more time and space to find and see the truth before their eyes. For if Allah has given them the blessing of a soul-mate, they will soon know how fortunate they are. There is no need to disparage them or force them into making a decision that they will not enter into gladly. That people successfully find truth ultimately, surely, is one of the beautiful things about religion.

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