This is one issue that we cannot ignore. Thus, I read this article with much interest.
There is no single verse in the Qur’an that prescribes an earthly punishment for apostasy. Verses about apostasy in the Qur’an speak only about God’s punishment of the apostate in the Hereafter. Writes Prof. Badawi :
[Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the truth, and again come to believe, and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth – God will not forgive them, nor will guide them in any way.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:137)
It is important to note in the above verse that if the Qur’an prescribes capital punishment for apostasy, then the apostate should be killed after the first instance of apostasy. As such there would be no opportunity to "again come to believe and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth". In spite of these acts of repeated apostasy, no capital punishment is prescribed for them.
The silence of the Qur’an on any prescribed mandatory capital punishment for apostasy is quite revealing. More revealing is the fact that there is overwhelming evidence in the Qur’an of freedom of conscious, belief, and worship.
Dr Syed Farid Alatas is one person where dialogue indeed is enriching …
Dr Farid aptly began by noting the importance of dialogue for national integration and racial harmony. In other words, dialogue was a non-negotiable. He expressed a concern that dialogue had thus far been relegated to the mere exchange of theological ideas among scholars rather than being embodied as a joint effort to solve very practical issues facing a multi-racial society.
Using a host of historical examples, Dr Farid elaborated his insightful observation that the positive elements of modern civilisation found their roots in multi-cultural — and to be more precise, interreligious — encounters. Such encounters were, in his assessment, focused on understanding and appreciating rather than converting “the other.”
At a very practical level, Dr Farid expressed his view that for such inter-religious encounters to take place authentically within Malaysia, the manner in which education took place had to be revised. The present education system, particularly its contents, caused polarisation more than giving rise to healthy dialogue. Since the way subjects were taught should propagate respect for various cultures, Dr Farid suggested that textbook contents should be changed. Should this effort be undertaken with utmost seriousness, he was quite confident that the next generation of people would be inherently dialogical in their view of inter-religious interactions.
The presenter was extremely and eloquently forthcoming with his views regarding the state of interreligious dialogue in Malaysia. He commented that if real dialogue was actually taking place in Malaysia, the Muslims would be upholding the rights of Christians to, for example, erect crosses on their religious buildings instead of feeling threatened by such religious expressions. He emphatically stated that Muslims had a duty to help persons of other religions to solve their problems at a very practical level.
21 April 2008 – ACA to be made Fully Independent
Four CPPS statements which are immediately relevant to a lot that’s going on these days.