Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of Centhra explained to TheMalaysianInsight that his call for a ban on evangelicalism was prompted by the high number of Muslims leaving the faith for Christianity. He added that “there were some 400 conversion cases before the shariah courts and if the trend continued, it could have an impact on the country’s security.” [Azril: Why I said Christian Evangelicalism Should be Banned]
Azril’s charge against Evangelicalism is logically flawed and legally unjust. First, even if there are 400 cases of conversion before the shariah court, he has provided no evidence that they are converted by Evangelicals. Rather than blaming Evangelicals, an educated person like Azril should recognize that these people could be influenced by a variety of powerful media sources or by people they meet when they travel overseas, rather than by a small Christian movement like Evangelicalism in Malaysia. Second, Azril’s argument is logically flawed. Let me explain his flawed logic.
Azril’s argument goes as follows:
(1) Muslims in Malaysia are being converted.
(2) Evangelicals in Malaysia are converting Muslims.
(3) Therefore Malaysian Evangelicals have converted these Muslims.
Any reader would know that Azril’s reasoning is unsound. I give an example of the same flawed reasoning:
(4) My hair is wet
(5) Rain causes wet hair
(6) Therefore, the rain caused my wet hair.
The conclusion and therefore the argument is wrong because in reality, my hair became wet not because of rain, but because I decided to take a cold shower on a hot, sunny day.
Azril’s argument is flawed because his premise (1) alone does not permitted him to jump to conclusion (3) without supplying additional premises or information. Using the language of logic, even if Azril’s form of argument is valid (and this is a contestable concession), his argument is unsound because not all his premises are true. For example, in the absence of concrete evidence, (2), the premise that Malaysian Evangelical churches are actively converting Muslims is highly contestable. As a lawyer, Azril should not have committed such an elementary blunder in logic – the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.
Religious beliefs are very personal and complex matters so that no one can predict, much less control. Nowadays, it should not be surprising when someone decides to convert out of one’s religion.
There could be a host of reasons rather than influence by Malaysian Evangelicals that caused these 400 conversions as people are exposed to all kinds of competing ideas in this globalized world. Tens of thousands of Malaysian Muslims have gone to the West for higher education; many travel frequently to promote their businesses; hundreds of thousands more read the Internet daily. In truth, any of these global influences rather than local Evangelical influence could have prompted these conversions.
Azril’s Call for a Ban on Evangelicalism is Legally Unjust.
So, Azril calls for a ban on Evangelicalism because he claims that there are 400 cases of Muslims who converted? What if the cause for concern should be the other way round as Islam has converted at least 200,000 non-Muslims in Malaysia? Let the statistics speak for themselves:
Number of Converts to Islam in Malaysia from 1967-1975 – 11,570 [Source: Osman Chuah, Chinese Muslims in Malaysia (IIU 2001)]
Number of Converts to Islam in West Malaysia from 1985-1995 – 14,442 [Source: Pusat Islam]
Number of Converts in Malaysia from 1980-1990 – 43,395 [Source: JAKIM]
Number of Converts in Sabah from 1979-2009 – 117,579 [Source: MUIS]
Finally, we note the number of Chinese Muslim in Malaysia is 42,048 [Source: Am I a Malay? A non-Malay Muslim Identity Dilemma]
For more details and complete breakdown of these conversion, see, “Allah and Conversions in Malaysia: The Facts!”
It has been said that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. If conversion is good reason for outlawing an organization, Azril should better take a look at what his own religion is doing to people of other faiths. If Azril calls for a ban on Evangelicalism because there are 400 cases of Muslim conversions (and he has provided no evidence that these conversions are due to the influence of Evangelicalism), by his own logic there should be a ban on Islam in Malaysia five hundred times over.
I trust that even an ordinary reader who does not have legal training like Azril would easily see the absurdity of his call for a ban on Evangelicalism.