While the issue of apostasy in Islam and punishment for it have been widely discussed in recent years, the Islamists would not relent in their lies that there is no punishment for apostasy in Islam. They are making the same claim in the case of latest Ohio apostate, 17-year-old Rifqa Bary, to take her back to Muslim community. This article should put to rest any debate on the issue....

Apostasy in Islam is its rejection by any means. Spoken or written renunciation of Islam is apostasy. Open disloyalty or blasphemous acts, such as not fully believing in the Quran or refusing to migrate from one place or country, where Muslims feel oppressed, to another is also deemed to be apostasy. The Quran explicitly and implicitly says so in verse 4:97 and 4:89. The Sharia Law, which is based on the Quran and the Sunnah (the acts and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad), also provide clear guidelines on how Muslims should deal with apostasy in Islam.

Yet, views about the penalties for apostasy vary from Muslim to Muslim. There are many scholars who have stated that the penalty for apostasy under Sharia is death, and there are scholars who have stated that apostasy carries no earthly punishment. I will briefly examine what the Quran actually says on the issue of penalties for the Muslim who listen to their conscience and apostatize from Islam.

But before doing that, I would like to briefly dwell on Islam itself; explain how Allah had helped Muhammad establish it in the Arabian Peninsula, and gave Muhammad the Quran that we read today.

We do not know when Allah had established Islam for mankind, but we know for sure that He had sent Adam down to earth to act as His vicegerent (Khalifa in Arabic and Caliph in English) on it. Adam was required to establish and implement Islam, not on the basis of any book or scripture, but according to the verbal guidance Allah promised to send to him from time to time.

After its establishment by Adam, Islam began its journey as an incomplete and imperfect religion, and it went through many trials and errors for a long, long time. Realizing that Caliphs won’t be able to bring about perfection to Islam and make all the humans on earth follow it in accordance with His unwritten wish, Allah began sending apostles and prophets to it, following Adam’s demise. They, too, failed in their missions, and Islam remained imperfect until just over 1400 years ago!

For Allah, the Earth from the time of Adam to the Seventh Christian Century comprised of the area we now call the Middle East. Adam and all the apostles and prophets came to this area. The presence in this area of the tombs, supposedly, of Adam and of almost all the apostles and prophets mentioned in the Quran proves this point.

In an effort to make Islam perfect, Allah sent Abraham to make Islam perfect. He failed and Allah was disappointed. Other apostles and prophets who had followed Abraham also failed in what Allah had wanted them to do on earth. Their failure was Allah’s failure and Allah recognized this fact. This made Allah tired, and He decided to let humans go their way.

A long time passed, when He realized that it was not in His best interest to give a free hand to His creations in choosing religions for themselves. So He created an apostle out of a murderer. His name was Moses. Allah sent him to the Hebrews who were living in Egypt and who were being terrorized by its Pharaohs, with the instruction to take them to Palestine. To help Moses succeed in his mission, Allah also gave him a portion of the celestial Quran, which is today known as the Torah.

Moses performed nine miracles[1] and took the Hebrews to the desert of Sinai. Despite the fact that they had seen all the miracles, including the parting of the Red Sea into two, with their own eyes, they refused to accept Allah as their own Allah and, instead, they made a calf out of gold and began worshipping it, while Moses was busy in meeting with, and receiving from, Allah a part of the Torah on the summit of Mount Sinai. The Hebrews developed immense veneration for the golden calf, as it mooed.[2] For this great sin of theirs, Allah not only had many of them killed, He also did not permit the survivors of the carnage to enter Palestine for a long time.

After suffering immeasurably for their great sin, the Hebrews, also known as Jews, finally entered, and settled down in Palestine. This was possible, as Allah, once again, bestowed His favor on them.[3]

Yet, the Jews kept on disobeying Allah’s commands. They not only killed a number of apostles and prophets in a single day; they also distorted and corrupted the Torah for their selfish gains. Infuriated, Allah withdrew all of His favors from the entire nation of the Jews; transformed a number of them into pigs, and gave a vast number of them into the slavery of the Babylonians.

After the Jews had suffered enough, Allah brought them back to Palestine, and they immediately began rebuilding in Jerusalem those temples, which the Babylonians had destroyed. In fact, these were mosques where Allah expected the Hebrews to perform the rituals of Islam; instead, they took to performing many rituals, which they themselves had invented. Naturally, Allah was hurt, and angry with the ungrateful Jews.

Yet He did not give up and sent Dawood or David to the Jews with a Scripture, called Zabur.[4] This was a portion of the same celestial Quran, which Allah had written down before the creation of the universe and been preserving in Lah-e-Mahooz with utmost personal care. But Dawood failed to make his people follow Islam according to what was mentioned in Zabur. Consequently, Islam remained imperfect even in his time.

In retaliation of the Jews’ arrogance, ungratefulness and intransigence, Allah could have killed all of them, but He chose to try again to bring them to Islam. For this purpose, He decided to create a special apostle and prophet out of a Jewish woman. His eyes fell on Virgin Mary.

Allah inspired her to flee from her home and hide herself in a deserted place. Here, Allah’s Soul (Ruh in Arabic) appeared before her as “a man in all respects.’[5] Seeing her scared, Allah’s Soul comforted her, saying: “I have come to grant you a most pure boy.”[6]

When Mary questioned Allah’s Soul’s sanity by saying, “How can a boy be born to me when no man has ever touched me, nor have I ever been unchaste,” the Soul put her concern to rest by declaring: “Thus shall be. Your Lord says “It is easy for Me and We shall do so in order to make him a Sign for mankind and a mercy from Us. This has been decreed,”[7] meaning, Allah had decreed in His celestial Quran before the creation of the universe that she would have a son with Allah’s Soul.

Mary was satisfied and Allah’s Soul had sex with her. She conceived and in time delivered “a most pure boy.” This boy is known to us a Jesus Christ. He began to talk to people moments after his birth!

Jesus was both an apostle and a prophet, for Allah had also given him a portion of the celestial Quran to help him complete his mission on earth. In due time and under direction from Allah, Jesus began rectifying what had gone wrong in Judaism with all vigor, with Allah standing behind him. But the Jewish Rabbis would have nothing of what he was telling them, and he failed to convince them, as he, like Moses, did not have a complete Quran with him.[8] The angry Rabbis vowed to get rid of him through a gubernatorial decree.

Allah failed, or He did not stop the execution of the decree, and Jesus was put on a cross for crucifixion. Here, finding a window of opportunity for Himself to save the life of the miraculous boy, Allah freed him from the cross and transported him to heaven to return to earth when his services would again be required by Allah. The executioners crucified a petty thief, instead of their targeted man![9]

Not satisfied with the successful rescue mission He had just conducted, Allah returned to the drawing board to draw a new plan against the Jews. Working on the plan, He realized that it would be impossible for Him to rein in the cunning and powerful Jews. He thought and thought for over five hundred years and then, in or about 570 A.D., He came up with a new idea of sending an apostle and prophet by the name of Muhammad to the Pagan Quraish of Mecca, in place of the Jews of Jerusalem, to achieve, at least, one victory in His entire career.

Allah could have produced one apostle and prophet from amongst the Pagans of the Indian sub-continent, whose number was, in the seventh century, much larger than the Pagans of Mecca, to bring them to Islam. But He decided not to do so, as taking on the weak and docile Indian sub-continental Pagans for forceful conversion to Islam was not only below His dignity, His use of brutal force against them would also have made Him, in His own eyes, an object of ridicule and hatred.

Muhammad took up his mission very seriously, knowing that Allah was all the time with him. He also knew that he would receive from Allah all guidance and knowledge as he would need to convert the Quraish and other Pagans of Mecca to Islam. While using peaceful preaching to convert the Pagans, Muhammad also waged secret battles against them,[10] hoping this would expedite the conclusion of his mission.

But, unfortunately for him, Allah had underestimated the determination of the Quraish Pagans who proved resolute in defense of their ancestral religion, which espoused no hatred against the believers of other religions, nor did it call upon them to kill those who did not practice their religion. They vehemently opposed his propagation of Islam among the people of Mecca.

Allah was taken aback by the determined stance of the Meccan Pagans against Islam and its teaching. He knew that they would oppose propagation of His only religion, but He did not know that their opposition would be so severe. Realizing that the guidance He was giving Muhammad was not going to help His cause, Allah became the best deceiver[11] and asked Muhammad to abandon his mission for a while, and let the Pagans practice their religion without hindrance.

Allah had granted the Pagans the right to practice paganism only to buy time so that He could prepare Himself and Muhammad for the next offensive. He told them through Muhammad:

“Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine.”[12]

The Pagans knew it was a deception on Allah’s part and they did not let off their guard. Allah was frustrated. Knowing not what to do with the Pagans, Allah opened the celestial Quran to see what He had written down in it about Muhammad’s mission and what His plan required both of them to do in order to overcome the Pagans of Mecca. He was dumbfounded by what He saw in it!

Allah’s plan had required Him to depute Muhammad in Medina, instead of Mecca, where a wealthy population of Jews lived with a vast number of poor Pagans, with instruction to Muhammad to convert them to Islam by peaceful means, or by force. His plan also had required Muhammad to build a strong army of the neo-Muslims so that they could seize and plunder the unarmed caravans of the Meccan Pagans that passed Medina on their way to Jerusalem, Syria and back to Mecca.

His plan had also required the Jews to vehemently oppose Muhammad so that he (Muhammad) would have an alibi to uproot them from their homes and fields; kill those Jews Allah Himself had encouraged to lead the opponents of His Prophet. Allah’s plan had further required Muhammad to collect booty from his defeated enemies; turn their young boys, girls and women into slaves and share them with his soldiers and Allah.[13]

Allah not only permitted, nay, encouraged Muslims to have sex with their slaves, He Himself had sex with those slaves He received from Muhammad as His share of the war booty and plunder Asked by the Arabs, who believed that an Arab without a son is not a man, why Allah does not have a son, He put them off by asking them: How can I have a son when I do not have a female companion?[14]

Technically, Allah was right; He had female slaves, but they were not His Companions. But from the standpoint of reality, it was a lie. He could have as many sons as He wanted from His slave-girls, thus proving that He was a man, but He did not do it for a genuine reason. Had he had a son, how could He have justified that He was Allah, and not a man?

In reality, Allah’s plan, as outlined above, called for trapping the hot-headed and over-confident Jews of Medina by His deceptions. On one hand, He had required them to oppose Muhammad; on the other, He fought and killed them with His own hands[15] for carrying out His wish, thereby helping His Prophet accomplish his mission to Medina in about ten years’ time. Muhammad took that many years in defeating his Jewish enemies for two main reasons:

  1. Most of what Allah had written down in His Note Book (the celestial Quran) and later relayed to Mohammad proved to be ineffective and inapplicable in the latter’s time. This forced Allah not only to erase out or expunge many of His original instructions from it, but also to abrogate many of them He had already relayed to Muhammad, and then replace them with the better, the same ones, or the effective ones.[16]
  2. Allah often had to divert His attention to Muhammad’s personal affairs and help him solve them in ways that were to his (Muhammad’s) advantage.[17]

After converting the Jews of Medina to Islam, defeating the Pagan Quraish and the taking over of their city – Mecca – became, for Allah and Muhammad, an easy task. They conquered it, and then Islam became perfect[18] and the transmission of the celestial Quran to earth via Muhammad complete.

Though the true copy of the celestial Quran on earth says in many places that it is a clear and an easy book for all the Arabic speaking people to understand,[19] but most Muslim scholars dispute Allah’s claim and assert that many of its verses cannot be understood by any human being without knowing the occasions of their revelation, and the comments, known as Tafsir or Exegesis, they have given on them.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali was one such scholar of the Quran. His translation of the Arabic text of the Quran into English received the approval of the Committee, which was appointed by the government of Saudi Arabia, and which comprised of scholars well qualified both in Islamic Sharia and the English language. He has commented on a large number of the verses of the Quran, due to which reason, his translation of it runs over 2000 pages. It would have taken him a much fewer pages, say 300, had he not included his extensive commentary in it. His effort, however, undoubtedly and surely helps us understand the Quran with a degree of ease!

The Quran that we read today superseded the Torah {The Law)[20] and the Bible (The Gospel). The latter is not the New Testament. It is not the four Gospels now received as canonical. It is the single Gospel, which was revealed to Jesus Christ, and which he taught. Fragments of it survive in the received canonical Gospels, and in some others. Therefore, Muslims are required to respect only those parts of the Bible that conform to the teachings of the complete Quran, and reject the others, which teach peculiar doctrines to the orthodox Christians.

Now I turn to the issue of Apostasy in Islam and present my observations on it, which are as follows:

Sura or Chapter al-Nissa, bearing serial number 4, was revealed in Medina. In its verse 88, we read Allah telling Muhammad and his followers that He Himself has thrown the hypocrites out of His righteous Way and that it would be futile for them to try to correct their hypocritical Way, as those whom Allah Himself has turned into hypocrites, can never find their righteous Way. In verse 89 of the same Sura, we read:

“They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): So take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;-)”

Who were the hypocrites; what transpired between them and Muhammad, and how Allah wanted him (Muhammad) to deal with them?

Hypocrites were those Jews and Pagans of Medina who had embraced Islam, but, forced by Allah’s desire, refused to desist from what He had declared to be forbidden for them. In other words, they pretended to be Muslims with the intention of leading the real Muslims away from the Way of Islam by disobeying Allah and His ordinances.

As noted in verse 88, Muhammad and his close Companions were divided on how to deal with these hypocrites. Perhaps, some of them wanted to persuade them not to continue on their un-Islamic Way. Perhaps, the hardliners among the Muslims demanded a harsher action against the hypocrites. But it appears from verse 89 that Muhammad had chosen the first option and talked to the hypocrites. Instead of being persuaded by him, they tried to make him reject Allah’s ordinances and follow what they were following in the name of a distorted Islam.

It appears from the verse that discussions between Muhammad and the hypocrites continued for a while. At the end, the hypocrites agreed to discard what Allah had declared forbidden, and live their lives in accordance with the dictums of real Islam.

This agreement had resulted, perhaps, from a shift in the hypocrites’ tactic. Realizing that it would be very difficult for them to win against Allah, Muhammad and his sycophants, who are known as Companions, or as-hab in Arabic, they must have come to the conclusion that it was in their best interest to accept Muhammad’s demand and forbid for themselves the things that were forbidden by Allah. This would allow them to remain with the real Muslims; rebuild their relationship with them, and then try to take them out of their Faith.

But alas! They did not know that Allah was sitting with them in a disguise; listening to them and participating in their private discussions,[21] while taking note of their conspiracy against Him, Muhammad and Islam. And when Allah met Muhammad, He told him:

Do not take the hypocrites as your friends (in my understanding, the word ‘friends’ here implies ‘trust’) till such time they permanently forbid for themselves what I have forbidden. You can take them as friends only after you have satisfied yourself that they are going to remain true to your trust. But if they break your trust by becoming apostates (the word “renegades” denotes apostates), seize them and kill them wherever you find them. You must not befriend them again, nor should you take help from them, for it will be difficult for you to kill those who are your friends and you have taken help from! (Simplified version of verse 4:89, as quoted above).

The following Hadith supports my stand on the punishment to the apostates:

Narrated Ikrima:
“Ali burnt some people [hypocrites] and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “(Bukhari 4.260).

Internet source: http://www.faithfreedom.org/2009/06/11/apostasy-in-islam/

Conclusion: Islam sanctions death to apostates. Hadiths confirm it. Many scholars of Islam, including Maulana Abul Ala Mududi, also hold the view that Allah wants the apostates from Islam killed. Therefore, any suggestion to the contrary is a falsehood, used, or to be used, by the soldiers of Islam to mislead the world. We must reject this falsehood and present the truth before the world opinion, if we want to save those innocent lives that are, and will be, in jeopardy.

Any procrastination on our part would encourage more bloodshed. We cannot watch the prosecution of those who have already apostatized, or are thinking to apostatize, from Islam. We need to let the whole world know the truth about the punishment Islam has prescribed for the apostates. Failure to fulfill our duty will be a crime against humanity. We cannot let the commission of this crime to go on forever. We must try to stop it; otherwise, humanity will never forgive us for our inaction and cowardice.

[1] The Quran; 17:101.

[2] The Quran; 7:148 et al.

[3] The Quran; 28:5 & 6.

[4] The Quran; 21:105.

[5] The Quran; 19:17.

[6] The Quran; 19:19, as translated by Maulana Abul Ala Mududi.

[7] The Quran; 19:21 (Mududi’s translation). The words “Thus shall be” also appeared in verse 19:9 in connection with the conception of Yahya by the wife of prophet Zakariya. She conceived only after copulating with her husband. Apparently, Yahya also had a Book or Scripture from Allah (19:10 to 12).

[8] The Quran; 3:23.

[9] This is according to a Muslim tradition.

[10] The Quran; 73:20.

[11] The Quran; 3:54.

[12] The Quran; Sura Kafirun, Serial Number 109.

[13] The Quran; 8:41.

[14] Cf. The Quran; 6:101.

[15] The Quran; 8:17.

[16] The Quran; 2:106. 0

[17] See Sura Tehrim (66), for instance.

[18] The Quran; 5:4.

[19] The Quran; 54:7 et al.

[20] Abdullah Yusuf Ali; The Holy Quran, p.332.

[21] Cf. The Quran; 4:108 & 58:7.

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