Monday, November 11, 2013

My Name Used To Be Muhammad by Tito Momen

This may be a book about conversion, but the thing that struck me the most was that it was really a book about the need for religious tolerance.

You see, Tito Momen (formerly Muhammad Momen) was raised under a very harsh interpretation of Islam. He was even sent to be educated at a very radical school that hated America and Israel and preached the Jihad of war. So when he converted to Mormonism, he not only lost his family and the girl he loved, he was also thrown into jail for about 15 years.

I think this is a book that's going to touch anyone who reads it. Tito is engaging, and he doesn't blame anyone. While he has converted away from Islam, he doesn't disparage the religion at all. He does speak against extremism, but I think that is something you should speak against.

Now, I don't believe in either Islam or Mormonism (Mormonism theology is not compatible with Christianity), so this isn't a "one religion is better than the other" post. What I want everyone to take away is that we need freedom of religion.

What freedom of religion means to me is the ability to convert from one religion to another freely. Even if we think that person is damning himself to hell, or if their family wants to disown them, well, I suppose we cannot make disownership illegal. But what governments should do is to allow their citizens to change religions freely. After all, what is the good of staying a nominal __[insert name here]___. Why not let them choose? After all, one great gift we all have is free will, and we can choose which path to take.

And that's why I'm glad to be from Singapore, where we can choose what we want to believe in. You can choose to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Taoist or even an Atheist. If you want to convert between any religion, that's legal too - well, your family might not be happy, but you definitely won't get arrested. It's something that I learnt to treasure from reading this book.

If you ever need a reminder about the need for freedom of religion, just read this book. It'll convince you very quickly how precious this freedom is.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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