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Friday, October 14, 2011

Apostasy in Islam

Apostasy (ارتداد, irtidād) is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection — in word or deed — of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam.
The Qur'an itself does not prescribe any punishment for apostasy (to be given by Muslims).
Islamic scholarship differs on its punishment: It can range from Execution - on an interpretation of certain ahaadees— to no punishment at all as long as Atheists do not work against the Muslim society or nation.
While Maududi and Al-Qaradawi assert that Execution is the standard answer, they do not take into account the differences of an Apostate & a Treasonous Act — as can be seen in their writings. Treason does have Execution in many parts of the world, Islamic or not.
Apostasy has no such answer in any part of the world … except in a 'super-Religious' Muslim world.
Dr. Irfan Khan, a scholar and Qur'anic exegete, says: "Freedom of faith and religion is meaningless without the freedom to change one's faith." In fact there are hundreds of writers, from old to new, who have argued against Execution as the Islamic response to Apostasy.
Dr. Ahmed Shafaat, a regular writer on this and other religious subjects, has the folowing to say:
It is a significant fact that the Book of God does not prescribe any punishment for apostasy. Many Muslims would immediately say, The Qur`an does not tell us everything. We need to go to the Hadith to find guidance on matters not touched by the Qur`an. But while this is true of matters of detail, this is not true of fundamental issues. God knew that while the Qur`an would be preserved faithfully, the authenticity of ahadith will remain subject to doubts in most cases. Therefore, he would make sure that all the basic teachings would be included in the Qur`an while leaving some details to ahadith so that the size of the Qur`anic text remains manageable for memorization. Looked in this way the absence in the Qur`an of any punishment for apostasy becomes very significant.The punishment for apostasy is not a detail that we can expect God to leave for ahadith, especially if that punishment is death, since taking the life of a person, if done without a just cause, is regarded by the Qur`an as tantamount to killing all human beings (5:32). Even lesser penalties for theft (cutting of hands, 5:38), illicit sexual intercourse (100 lashes, 24:2), and unsubstantiated accusation of adultery (80 lashes, 24.4) were not considered by God as matters of details to be left to the ahadith. Therefore there is no reason why God would consider the more serious penalty of death for a more serious sin of apostasy as a matter of detail to be left to ahadith.It is also significant that the Qur`an refers to apostasy several times (2:217, 3:86-90, 4:137, 9:66, 9:74, 16:106-109, 4:88-91, 47:25-27) and yet does not prescribe any punishment for it. Had the Qur`an not mentioned apostasy at all, we could have perhaps argued that there was no occasion for the Qur`anic revelation to deal with this subject and it was therefore left for the Holy Prophet to deal with.
Dr. Javed Ghamidi, a scholar of Islam (but considered unorthodox by many in Pakistan — he now lives outside the country, having been threatened by death), says " … punishment for apostasy was part of Divine punishment for only those who denied the truth even after clarification in its ultimate form by Muhammad …". He considers it a time-bound command and no longer punishable.
In his book, Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, S. A. Rahman - once the Chief Justice in Pakistan - declares the verse [Quran 2:256] which contains the explicit language, "Let there be no compulsion in religion ...", to be "one of the most important verses of the Qur'an, containing a charter of freedom of conscience unparalleled in the religious annals of mankind …". He argues that there is "no indication of the death penalty for apostasy in the Qur'an".
Give such a spate of evidence among the Muslims, we still have a large number of Muslim 'scholars' — including the JI that opposed Pakistan as a state and has now become a group that claims it made Pakistan — that would like to see Execution as Pakistan's legal response.
Of course, in an insanely religious world, today, things have gotten much worse outside the Muslim countries (as far as Muslims are concerned). Apostates have been threatened with death by family and friends … and some of the threateners are outsiders who don't even know the person who has decided to change his religion from Islam to another religion (or non-religious ways).
Many of these threatening behaviours even gather support from religious leaders, despite the fact that it is illegal to kill anyone and the killers would have life imprisonment or worse.
A series of bus ads that asked Apostates from Islam to call them up — so that they could provide safe places for them to stay — was 'banned' after a couple of weeks because it could 'hurt Islam or Muslims' in the USA. This ban was made possible by a call from a group that had ads on buses that showed that the real way of life of all prophets (some were named) was what Muslims believed in. That ad, of course, was not bannable — though it may have hurt Jews and Christians. It stayed on the buses.Take a look at the first few minutes of this video:

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