Does religion teach us to be cruel?
COMMENT | When I was growing up in Johor Bahru, I went to an Islamic religious school. I was probably about eight or nine years old. I used to ask a lot of questions and the ustaz (religious teacher) in class would scold me to shut up and not ask too many questions because religion is the word of God. If you asked too much “nanti jadi gila!” (you will go crazy).
So I lost all interest in religious school. I was chatting with my friends, skipping class and playing behind the canteen or even just walking into other classes and disrupting. I would get caught by the ustaz and would usually be made to stand outside of class in the hot sun for most school hours.
My parents were not aware of these punishments. I am not part of the snowflake generation. I was born in the 1970s, so I didn’t run home to cry to my parents because I had to stay out of the classroom. But I told them that the ustaz would never answer my questions.
After two years, my parents took me out of school and I never went to another systematic religious school again. But I was lucky. My father was very open in matters of religion and we could ask and discuss anything. Nothing was considered taboo or even blasphemous. He always said that questioning has to happen for us to understand better.
I was put off by religion because of the actions of the religious school I went to. But I regained my interest once my parents took me out. They explained to me that the passion for religion (any religion and not just Islam) comes from the fact that people like it. Make them hate and you just drive them away.
It’s true! I’m talking about the case where 19-year-old Daniel Iskandar was…