Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apostasy in Islam and "Compulsion in religion"

...being the last part of my first letter.
You said in your letter: the Qur’an confirms that “there is no compulsion in religion”.30 You will not find a verse that states otherwise in the Qur’an.
Although I don’t think this is the major argument here, and I’ll explain why later, I disagree that the Qur’an is as clear cut on this point as you make out.

In fact , I think this is another example of abrogation, for later God tells Mohammed in surah 9.5 –“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful”.
This sounds pretty much like compulsion to me, but perhaps you can clarify.
But to the main point. You say:
Apostasy was seen as being akin to treason, in respect of which the death penalty has been available in a number of countries, including England until 1998.38 However, since “there is no compulsion in religion”, non-Muslims who still find the Islamic position in this subject troubling need not adopt Islam. 
I’m not entirely sure I see your point here. Apart from subtly suggesting that the injunction to execute apostates was a political rather than a religious issue (for which there is little justification and I’ll happily argue that one on another occasion) I note that you don’t use the argument I’ve seen elsewhere that the Qur’an doesn’t specifically mention this punishment (It doesn’t. But as you seem to accept, the hadith and other sources are pretty clear.)
So your defence of the killing of apostates seems to be “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to follow Islam”: non-Muslims who still find the Islamic position in this subject troubling need not adopt Islam.
I find that disturbing on two scores. Firstly, you seem happy to accept the premise that to join your faith one needs to be comfortable with the idea that a change of mind would be, quite literally, fatal. Secondly, you seem blissfully unconcerned with those poor souls born into the faith who later change their mind. This is NOTHING like treason. This is a personal decision on how to live one’s life.  Freedom to follow a religion or not is a basic human right. If your religion denies that to its followers, it seems to me to be the worst sort of totalitarian regime and it falls there and then.  I cannot understand how you can defend this, if that is indeed what you are doing. Perhaps you will clarify...


  1. Is the punishment for apostasy execution?

    The confusion comes here where the ahadeeth conflicts with the Quran.

    Apostasy has been mentioned at least 20 times in the Quran non of the verses mention that the punishment for it is execution, but ahadeeth do.


    Bukhari (52:260) - "...The Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' "

    Bukhari (83:37) - "Allah's Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate."

    Bukhari (84:57) - "[In the words of] Allah's Apostle, 'Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'"

    Bukhari (89:271) - A man who embraces Islam, then reverts to Judaism is to be killed according to "the verdict of Allah and his apostle."

    Bukhari (84:58) - "There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu'adh asked, 'Who is this (man)?' Abu Muisa said, 'He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.' Then Abu Muisa requested Mu'adh to sit down but Mu'adh said, 'I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice.' Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, 'Then we discussed the night prayers'"

    Bukhari (84:64-65) - "Allah's Apostle: 'During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.'"

    [And say [O Muhammad]: 'The truth [has now come] you're your Sustainer: let, then, him or her who wills, believe in it, and let him or her who wills, reject it.] (Al-Kahf 18:29)

    [There shall be no coercion in matters of faith.] (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

    [And so, [O Prophet,] exhort them; your task is only to exhort. You can not compel them [to believe].] (Al-Ghashiyah 88:21-22)

    [Thus, [O Prophet,] if they argue with you, say, "I have surrendered my whole being unto God, and [so have] all who follow me' – and ask those who have been vouchsafed revelation aforetime, as well as the unlettered people, 'Have you [too] surrendered yourselves unto Him?' And if they surrender themselves unto Him, they are on the right path; but if they turn away – behold, your duty is no more than to deliver the message: for God sees all that is in [the hearts of] His creatures.] (Aal `Imran 3:20)

    [Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the truth, and again come to believe, and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth — God will not forgive them, nor will guide them in any way.] (An-Nisaa' 4:137)

    Verily, We sent down to you [O Muhammad] the Book [Qur'an] for mankind in truth. So, whosoever goes astray, he goes astray to his own loss. And you [O Muhammad] are not a guardian over them. (Az-Zumar 39:41)

    I am a Muslim, and regardless of how authentic the Hadith may be, the Quran is superior. This is a rule that must not be broken, as hadith can be full of mistakes. I follow what is from the Quran and do my best to follow the Sunnah. May Allah forgive me if the message I have sent now is somehow wrong.

    1. Things that I want to add:

      From my knowledge and what I have found, the Quran not only doesn't mention punishments for apostasy, but clearly says to leave those who apostate alone, proving those hadith that I have given useless, due to the fact that the Quran is superior.

      Although, once again to my knowledge, the death penalty that is enacted is not meant to apply to a simple change of faith, but if someone, after changing religion, began propagating against Islam itself.

      Now my stance on this in not sure, as from my understanding, what is happening conflicts with the Quran. There may be other haidth which further expand and do not contradict these Quranic verses, in line with what I mentioned in the above paragraph, but I have not seen one yet. What bothers me is that people seem to jump to the fact that Islam is a barbaric religion due to certain laws without understanding the logic behind them, but that is another topic entirely.

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  3. And sorry for posting twice.