Loving God and loving one another PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 September 2014 14:08

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

 

Meriam Ibrahim is the Sudanese woman, born of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, who grew up practicing the Christian faith. She considers herself a Christian. But by Sharia law she is considered a Muslim and thus  had made herself an apostate. Again by Sharia  law apostasy from Islam  is punishable by death. She married a Christian and thereby went against another Sharia  law which requires that a Muslim woman, which she is considered as one,  is prohibited from marrying a non-Muslim. For these two violations of customary laws she was sentenced to death .

Due to strong international pressure the death sentence was deferred and she was imprisoned instead, kept in chains. She was pregnant then but the prison authorities refused to let her go to a hospital to give birth. She thus gave birth in her prison cell and the chains were not even taken off.

The man she married is an African who had acquired American citizenship. Perhaps this may have contributed to the pressure applied to  her case and after some months she was released and allowed to leave the country. In her husband’ state in the US she said that she would not have given up her Christian faith even if  death would be the outcome of her decision.

I have heard it many times from my Muslim friends that the Prophet Mohammad had said that there should be no compulsion in religion. People should freely choose what religion they should follow. The Prophet was truly wise for having taught this. But what does it say of those who prosecuted Meriam Ibrahim for apostasy?  Are they perhaps more Muslim than the Prophet himself?

There are many people who follow various religions and who act as though they are more holy than the God that they affirm and claim to follow. In both Islam and Christianity  the greatest commandment is “Love God and love your neighbor.”  Perhaps we should all remember this and keep in mind that our love for God is best shown in how we carry out our love for our neighbors.

I remember that one time I was told that someone I knew and whose house was right beside a Catholic church had given up her Catholic faith and become instead a follower of a “born again” religious group. I was asked what I thought about her case. What could I say?  All I could do was ask if she had become a better human being for in the end  when we come face to face with God this is what we have to account for.

It is said that Islam is growing faster than any other religion in terms of  the  number of people converting to Islam from their original religion. Should I worry about this? I shouldn’t,  if the conversion was done voluntarily, in the exercise of genuine freedom, following the injunction of the Prophet that there should be no compulsion in religion.

In the end what really matters is that the world is populated by better people who love God and who love one another.