Why the need to announce faith conversions in the media?
By Zan Azlee
I don’t understand why Muslims, especially in Malaysia, seem overly proud whenever someone of a different religion converts to Islam.
Some feel so proud they need to shout it out loud enough so the whole world can hear.
And this extends to news headlines.
Our national news agency has a story headlined ‘44 Orang Asli di Perak peluk Islam’ (44 Orang Asli in Perak embrace Islam).
And then there’s the numerous hyped up conversions of individuals who attended Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik’s lectures.
These cases are reported by the local media as if they were miracles!
(I know, a lot of people have asked for my opinion about Dr Zakir and his speaking tour in Malaysia. I don’t want to get into it right now. Anyway, freedom of speech is a right, right?)
Now, keeping in mind that we Malaysians have freedom of religion as one of our Constitutional rights, imagine this:
A Christian group or a Hindu group announces publicly that they have managed to convert so many in one go. What would the public reaction in Malaysia be?
Would everybody smile and say congratulations? Or would they go berserk?
I would assume the latter. Hardly fair, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing. Should we care if a stranger converts or denounces their faith?
I don’t because it is their own dealings with their own beliefs and has nothing to do with anyone else.
Look, I actually understand why conversions to Islam are always hyped up. It’s because Muslims want to reaffirm their beliefs, which makes them feel more secure.
I guess it’s everyone saying to themselves: ‘Wow! So many believe in Islam! The religion must be true and beautiful!’
Sure, reaffirmation is good. But it also indicates insecurity.
Why does it seem that people need to quench their insecurities this way?
Wouldn’t their insecurities be better resolved by actually studying the religion and having their own personal enlightenment?
Seeing a batch of 44, or even hundreds or thousands, converting to Islam does not convince me that the faith I believe in is the best one for me.
I’m glad if you are enlightened and find that Islam is the best religion for you.
Just as I would be similarly glad if you find enlightenment in another religion, or even no religion at all.
Matters of personal faith need not be shouted out over the rooftops.
I remember that the only son of one of the richest men in Malaysia converted and even became a Buddhist monk. But the Buddhists didn’t make a parade out of it. Now that’s what a call a class act. Admirable and noble.