One of the greatest lessons we can learn from nature is the wisdom of our immune system. This fascinating collection of defense mechanisms has the ability to show tolerance to benign human cells so that we can survive. It also has the ability to not tolerate harmful cancer cells. Failure to express this natural intolerance to cancer cells or to distinguish between malignant and benign cells can prove to be fatal.
What we learn from this “wise” system is that showing tolerance to destructive and violent agents can have devastating consequences. Those who adopt cultural relativism need to be able distinguish between the benign features of cultures such as food, dancing, or art, and between the potentially fatal. Relativism and tolerance work well with the benign features but not with those that could be malignant.
More specifically, tolerating the food, music, and art of Islamic culture is not harmful; however, tolerating the inhumane Shariah laws such as the Redda law, which enforces the killing of converts from Islam, is quite toxic. Failure to distinguish between these features can be destructive to any free society.
Recently, Rifqa Bary, 17, converted to Christianity from Islam, qualifying her for the death sentence according to the Islamic Redda law. She fled from Ohio to Florida, but a court might force her to return to her father, whom she says will kill her. This story illustrates the need for distinguishing features and raises an important question: Should the free world tolerate and accept the killing of Rifqa because killing apostates is part of the Islamic culture or shall it intervene to stop this crime? In other words, will we tolerate the crime of killing an innocent soul — just for converting from Islam — under the banner of cultural relativism?
Further, if Muslim communities intend to reinstate the practice of slavery, the beating and stoning of women, or to wage violent jihad to subjugate others to Shariah law, will we then accept this barbarism under the banner of cultural relativism and tolerance?
The story of Rifqa raises another important issue; Where are the voices of the “moderate” Islamic organizations against the Redda law?
To date, the law remains a standard teaching in mainstream Islamic jurisprudence books and is practiced as a fundamental part of the “peaceful” Shariah law. Shamelessly, many Islamic organizations that claim to be “moderate” and respectful of the freedom of belief refuse to denounce the Redda law. This inconsistent behavior within the Muslim world must stop.
The belief that Islam does not force anyone to convert based on the verse (Quran: 2:256 No compulsion in religion) is not enough considering it does not stand clearly against the mandated killing of the covert if he chooses to leave the religion.
It is important to include the fact that teaching young Muslims using mainstream Islamic books such as “Fiqh US-Sunna,” by Sayyid Sabiq, and “Minaj Al-Muslimm,” by Al-Jaza’iry (both of which are among the best selling Islamic books in the United States) that apostates must be killed, should be considered a crime against those children and our society. It takes advantage of young and impressionable minds by forcing them to accept and tolerate violence as an integral part of the religion.
This method of teaching can partially explain how the violent minds of the Islamic terrorist group recently discovered in North Carolina were formed. When a person is taught that he is required to kill someone because they converted from Islam to another faith, the murderer may also justify killing the “innocent” for not subjugating to Islam. If we accept the use of violence in dealing with people of different religions we will no longer be able to set limits to these cruel acts. If the current Islamic Shariah law and jurisprudence books fail to enforce respect for human life and a person’s freedom of faith and religion, there will be devastating consequences in both the Muslim and free worlds. A firm stance against the Redda law is necessary from Islamic organizations such as ISNA and CAIR and leading Islamic scholars if they are truly moderates.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Dr. Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Dr. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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