"No compulsion in religion": The tragedy of Abdul Rahman

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Nightowl, Mar 22, 2006.

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  1. Nightowl TFN Timetales Writer

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    From The TimesOnline:

    Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old Afghan, was a Muslim for 25 years before he began working for an international Christian group helping his fellow countrymen in Pakistan. Within a couple of years he had converted to Christianity.

    Fourteen years later, the decision may cost him his life.

    After four years in Peshawar Mr Rahman spent the next nine in Germany. His problems began when he returned to Afghanistan in 2002 and tried to recover his two daughters, now aged 13 and 14, who were living with his parents in Kabul.

    His parents refused to return them. The matter went to the police, with the parents complaining that their son had become violent. Mr Rahman?s father then denounced him as a convert. Mr Rahman was promptly arrested, and found to possess a Bible. He now languishes in Kabul central prison and will, if convicted of an ?attack on Islam?, face the death penalty under Afghanistan?s new constitution.

    Mr Rahman?s case is shaping up as a trial of strength between Afghanistan?s religious conservatives and reformers. ?The constitution says Islam is the religion of Afghanistan, yet it also mentions the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 specifically forbids this kind of recourse,? one human rights expert said in Kabul last night. ?It really highlights the problem the judiciary faces.?

    News of his plight is likely to cause outrage in predominantly Christian countries such as Britain and America, whose troops are fighting to free Afghanistan from the religious zealotry of the Taliban.

    The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who leads the Church of England?s dialogue with Islam, told The Times: ?I?m amazed that the constitution that has been agreed in post-Taliban Afghanistan under the very eyes of the international community should allow this kind of thing to take place ? for a person to be arrested for having been converted 14 years ago and to be threatened with execution simply for his beliefs.

    ?The British Army in Afghanistan is losing soldiers there through injury and death. Is the Army there to uphold this kind of thing? I thought we were there to promote democracy and freedom.?

    Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, told The Times: ?We are asked to believe that in Afghanistan we are defending a more secular and democratic state when in fact the likes of Abdul Rahman face the death penalty. What sort of democracy are we defending? All reports suggest that the Taliban are coming in through the back door and their views through the front door. Hamid Karzai (the Afghan President) needs to be told that this absurdity must stop.?

    Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrats? defence spokesman, said: ?This is a horrifying situation and it makes a mockery of the efforts we are making to bring Afghanistan back into the international community. We have committed many soldiers to the situation in Afghanistan, many of whom will be committed Christians; we have spent huge amounts of money and committed resources and so I think we can take a strong moral position on this and explain to the Afghan authorities that to prosecute or even kill someone for having a different faith is unacceptable.?

    Mr Rahman is being prosecuted for an attack on Islam, the punishment for which, under the draft constitution established in 2004, is death.

    ?The Attorney-General is emphasising he should be hung,? Judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawlawy Zada, who will be trying his case, told The Times. ?It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulting his family by converting. In your country (Britain) two women can marry; that is very strange. In this country we have the perfect constitution, it is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished.?

    The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, has said that he would drop charges if Mr Rahman converted back to Islam, but he has so far refused to do so.

    ?He would be forgiven if he ch
  2. VoijaRisa Force Ghost

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    I completely agree with the sentament here. If our objective (third time around) was to promote a democratic nation, we seem to have failed. The government we outsted killed people for not liking the current leader. The one we installed wants to kill people for not liking the same God. :rolleyes:

    Yet I think what disturbs me even more is this line:

    Replace "Islamic" with "Christian" and suddenly it sounds very familiar to what people in this country have started saying recently.
  3. farraday Jedi Grand Master

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    If our objective (third time around) was to promote a democratic nation, we seem to have failed.

    I'm sorry but that is emphatically not true for the simple, if sad, reason that it appears the majority of people in afgahnistan think you should die for converting.

    Democracy at it's worst, but sitll democratic.

    What it isn't is a liberal nation, please don't confuse the two words it only makes things more diffficult.
  4. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    Granted I'm not an expert on Islam by a longshot, but given Islam's stated respect for Christianity by way of the Qu'ran(sp?) it seems hard to believe that it would be a crime to convert....

    There's at least one Muslim that posts in the Senate Interfaith Chapel. He'd be the better go-to guy on this...
  5. farraday Jedi Grand Master

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    The thing is Merk that it is distinctly clear that a Muslim who leaves islam is considered an apostate.

    From there you could make a very good arguement that the Koran says apostates must be put to death.

    The more liberal understanding would be that it says apostates will face a horrible doom after death, but it doesn't demand their death.
  6. VoijaRisa Force Ghost

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  7. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    "And does it actually say anywhere in Islamic texts that it's a crime to deconvert, or is this just another bit of dogma that's been added in over the years?"

    He asked the question better than I did :p
  8. farraday Jedi Grand Master

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    As I understand it the punishment is based upon the actions of the prophet and not the Koran itself. Islamic law is mostly I believe based upon the actions of Muhammad.


    Could be wrong.
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I guess the question Americans need to ask themselves before they high five each other over ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan is how big a difference there actually was in Afghanistan between the Taliban and everyone else there. This is a place where progress is defined as getting an actual trial with actual procedural rules before being hanged for converting from Islam to Christianity.
  10. LORDeron_MAULer Jedi Master

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    Unfortunatly Islam will have its share of authorities that will choose to ignore or re-interpret more tolerant aspects of their relgion.

    The "No compulsion in religion" is one of them.
  11. Nightowl TFN Timetales Writer

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    "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In retaliation for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."
    -- Muhammad, Sunnah of Bukhari (9/83/17)

    On the plus side, I've looked through the Qu'ran, and while there's quite a few verses that would seem on the surface to back up the above, there is no verse that out-and-out states "Kill any Muslim who converts to another religion." I guess the question now becomes whether or not the Sunnah is considered on a equal footing with the Qu'ran as far as an Islamic holy book. Don't forget, the sayings attributed to Muhammad in the Sunna are hearsay by people who knew him in his life and are separated from the actual events by quite a few years.
  12. LORDeron_MAULer Jedi Master

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    The Sunnah (which I beleive unless I am mistaken is "the Sayings of the Prophet" ?)is not considered on equal footing with the Holy Qur'an, because even Muslims acknowledge the verbals sayings of the prohpet may have changed over the centuries because of human error.

    The other thing to consider is translations and context of passages in both, which can alter a statments' meaning considerably.

    I beleive the refrence to "chaning religion" from Islam is a refrence to traitors during wartime.

    Different people will interpret things idfferently.
  13. VoijaRisa Force Ghost

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    Sounds like a lot of the practices of the Catholic church in that case.


    But I could be wrong.
  14. Lord_Sindjin Jedi Knight

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    The problem with the whole thing, IMO, is that killing a man for changing his faith is not the will of God. It is the will of men. The Muslims on Afghanistan may think they are doing right by God by doing so, but they are not. Rather, they are misinterpreting the will of a man. A man who admits to being nothing more than an Apostle to God (Muhammed).
  15. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    That strikes me as strange.

    Admittedly, I don't know a whole lot about Islam. But from what I do know, there is no such thing as translation of the Koran. While people do it, it's not correct. The only authoratative version of the Koran is the original Arabic in which it was first written.

    Am I missing something here?
  16. Nightowl TFN Timetales Writer

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    The official Muslim line on Qur'an translation:

    While the text of the original Arabic Qur'an is identical and unchanged since its revelation, you will find various translations and interpretations. Anytime a translation is done into another language, the translator (who is only human) has to interpret the meaning and render it in the new language. It is, by nature, an approximation of the meaning, since words and ideas cannot be expressed identically in different languages.

    Arabic is a very rich language, and words have many shades of meaning. Thus in many languages it often requires more wordiness to get the meaning across, which detracts from the beautiful simplicity of the Qur'anic message. Arabic idioms, and the weight of the words, are difficult to understand and translate. While Arabic is a living language, the classical Arabic of the Qur'an requires more study in order to fully appreciate and understand the depths of meaning.

    Another concern is the translator's familiarity with the target language. Some translations are done by individuals who are very knowledgeable in Arabic, but they are not able to render the intended meaning because they are not familiar with the nuances of the other language.

    In the end, the dilemma is to find a translation that is linguistically and spiritually as accurate as possible, yet is readable and flowing. In English, such a translation is difficult to find, though many have tried. Many of the early translations of the Qur'an into English were done by Christian missionaries. Not surprisingly, they are not known for their accuracy or faithfulness to the intended message.


    [End excerpt]

    I'm not really sure how much of that I believe. The Bible's oldest books, dating back to 700 BC at latest, translate far better in various languages. Christian translators, far as I know, have translated holy books of other religions without inserting their own biases into the copies.

    Craig Winn, author of the incendiary anti-Islam book Prophet of Doom has charged that "The Qur?an is so poorly written that one in five verses makes no sense in any language" and that the Muslim clerics who claim it can't be translated "simply don?t want anyone to know what Allah?s book actually says." He says he blended five translations to create the version he uses in his book -- I have read three of them separately on a different site. The verbiage does differ, but the side-by-side comparison does give you the gist of it.

  17. lorn_zahl Force Ghost

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    High fives are still in short order. The Government that harbored and in many ways helped the terrorist's that attacked us is long gone, with a few desperate men hiding in caves like animals. It's about justice.

    Oh and sure we didn't kill/capture OBL but I'm content with him on the run. He will never have peace and there are worse things than death. :)


    Rahman

    In my oppinion the US government should not let it happen. I would even support raiding the courthouse and extricating him.

    Sure everyone will get all mad at us again but I don't really care. There's a right and wrong in this world, killing someone because of their religeon is wrong and I don't care what culture you're from or what you believe in, it's flat out wrong.

    The clerics can cry if they want to.
  18. LORDeron_MAULer Jedi Master

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    Well that is true. The Qur'an in Arabic is really the "true" Qur'an, because meaning can be altered in translations, and the Islamic community is keenly aware of this. I was mainly refering to outsiders who might read it an interrpet it differnetly than it might have been intended.

    However context is something that can apply to any language.
    I also read that it is designed such to be said aloud; and simply reading it through might not produce the Book's real meaning, due to its poetic nature.

    I suppose that i can't vouch for this first hand, but this is my understanding.

    I cannot pretend to know the Muslim Holy Book better than Islam's own scholars, but the fact remains there must be a reason that so very many Muslims will not agree on one interpretation its ultimate meaning.
  19. Nightowl TFN Timetales Writer

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  20. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

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    Risking disrespecting another nation's laws (no matter how distasteful we find them) for one man? Talk about silly.
  21. GrandAdmiralThrawn66 Force Ghost

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    Yes by all means for one man, if you can save one man or 1000 it is all the same.
  22. GrandAdmiralThrawn66 Force Ghost

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    What sounds like the Catholic church? ....why is the Catholic church being brought up in every religious thread? This one, scientology, others. Im just wondering why it always gets brought up? Just curious?
  23. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

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    Yes by all means for one man, if you can save one man or 1000 it is all the same.

    Well the way some people are talking this man's the second-coming of Jesus Christ. I would not risk an international incident over one man.
  24. severian28 Force Ghost

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    You would think if there was a brain cell in the entire administration they would have anticipated a scenario like this when implanting democracies in predominately Islamic nations. And if its not stupidity, and I dont think it is stupidity , then you better face the facts of this adminstrations footsie game with big oil, the military industrial complex, and nation building corps. like Haliburton. Bush 43, Cheney, Wolfie, Condi and all the rest of the neo-cons dont give a RATS ASS about the humanitarian rights of these people in this region of the world. They want their pipe line built and they want Iran boxed in - which it is with the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its not conspiratorial anymore, people. It never was a far as Im concerned.
  25. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

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    Because a lot of the practices people are railing against were adopted by the Catholic church.
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