I was very interested in the news reports that the two released Fox journalists, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint during their captivity.
For those who don’t know, one converts to Islam by pronouncing the shahadah (pledge of conviction of faith) in Arabic: “Ash HaduAllaa Ilaaha Il-lallaah Wa Ash Hadu Anna Muhammadar Rasullulah,” which means “I bear Witness that there is no deity but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger.”
I’m curious as to what you think you would have done if placed in that same situation.
On the one hand, in the West we believe that one cannot be bound by statements made or signed under duress, and so in our religious and legal culture the conversion is simply void. Further, a captive often has to read propagandistic statements and undertake other such actions simply to survive the ordeal.
On the other hand, how many stories have we heard from 19th century Church history, where some traveling Mormon was accosted by a mob and threatened with death if he did not renounce his faith. In the stories, inevitably he refused to do so, and God protected him and he was able to go his way unharmed. Is this that type of situation? Would you have preferred martyrdom to renouncing your faith, even if doing so under duress?
Of course, agreeing to the forced conversion is not a costless transaction, for in the eyes of extremists to later renounce the conversion makes one an infidel subject to being killed for renouncing Islam. But the risk of being killed would seem to be greater with a gun actually aimed at your head than at some future time for renouncing the sham conversion.
One can never be sure what one would do under extreme circumstances, but I think I would have done the same thing the journalists did. What would you have done?