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is
concerned,
thereisnot
onlyno
mentionof
adeath

Apostasy

TheReligionofIslam

byMaulanaMuhamamdAli

pp.437443

sentence
for
apostates
butsucha
sentenceis
negatived
bythe
verse

Apostasy

Thewordirtidadisthemeasureofiftialfromraddwhichmeansturningback.Riddaandirtidad
signifyturningbacktothewayfromwhichonehascome,butriddaisspeciallyusedforgoingbackto
unbelief,whileirtidadisusedinthissenseaswellasinothersenses(R.),andthepersongoingbackt
unbelieffromIslamiscalledmurtadd(apostate).Thereisagreatmisconceptiononthesubjectof
apostasyasonthesubjectofjihad,thegeneralimpressionamongbothMuslimsandnonMuslims
beingthatIslampunishesapostasywithdeath.IfIslamdoesnotallowthetakingofthelifeofaperso

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speakingof
apostasy,
aswellas
bythe
magna
chartaof
religious
freedom,
the256th
verseof
thesecond
chapter,la
ikrahafil
din,There
isno
compulsion
inreligion.

onthescoreofreligion,andthishasalreadybeenshowntobethebasicprincipleofIslam,itis
immaterialwhetherunbeliefhasbeenadoptedafterbeingaMuslimornot,andthereforeasfarasth
sacrednessoflifeisconcerned,theunbeliever(kafir)andtheapostate(murtadd)areatpar.

ApostasyintheQuran

TheQuranistheprimarysourceofIslamiclawsandthereforeweshalltakeitfirst.Inthefirstplace,
nowherespeaksofamurtaddbyimplication.Irtidadconsistsintheexpressionofunbelieforinthe
plaindenialofIslam,anditisnottobeassumedbecauseapersonwhoprofessesIslam,expressesan
opinionordoesanactwhich,intheopinionofalearnedmanorlegist,isunIslamic.Abuseofa
prophetordisrespecttotheQuranareveryoftenmadefalseexcusesfortreatingapersonas
murtadd,thoughhemayavowinthestrongtermsthatisabelieverintheQuranandtheProphet.
Secondly,thegeneralimpressionthatIslamcondemnsanapostatetodeathdoesnotfindtheleast
supportfromtheQuran.Heffemingbeginshisarticleonmurtadd,intheEncyclopediaofIslam,the
followingwords:

IntheQurantheapostateisthreatenedwithpunishmentinthenextworldonly.

ThereismentionofirtidadinoneofthelateMakkahrevelations:WhosodisbelievesinAllahafterhi
beliefnotheiswhoiscompelledwhilehisheartiscontentwithfaith,buthewhoopenshisbreastf
disbeliefonthemisthewrathofAllah,andforthemisagrievouschastisement(16:106).Clearlyth
murtaddisherethreatenedwithpunishmentinthenextlife,andthereisnottheleastchangeinthis
attitudeinlaterrevelations,whenIslamicgovernmenthadbeenestablishedimmediatelyafterthe
ProphetreachedMadinah.InoneoftheearlyMadinahrevelations,apostasyisspokenofinconnecti
withthewarwhichtheunbelievershadwagedtomaketheMuslimsapostatesbyforce:Andtheyw
notceasefightingyouuntiltheyturnyoubackfromyourreligion,iftheycan.Andwhoeverofyou
turnsbackfromhisreligion(yartaddafromirtidad),thenhedieswhileanunbelievertheseitis
whoseworksgofornothinginthisworldandtheHereafter,andtheyarethecompanionsofthefire;
thereintheywillabide(15)(2:217).Soifamanbecomesapostate,hewillbepunishednotinthis
life,butintheHereafteronaccountoftheevildeedstowhichhehasreverted,andhisgoodworks,
donewhilehewasyetaMuslim,becomenullbecauseoftheevilcourseoflifewhichhehasadopted

(15)IntheirzealtofindadeathsentenceforapostatesintheQuran,someChristianwritershaveno
hesitatedtogiveanentirelywrongtranslationofthewordfayamut(thenhedies)asmeaningthenh
isputtodeath.Fayamutistheactivevoiceandyamutumeanshedies.Theuseofthiswordshows
clearlythatapostateswerenotputtodeath.Someinterpretershavedrawnawronginferencefrom
thewordswhoseworksgofornothing.Thesewordsdonotmeansthatheistobetreatedasan
outlaw.ByhisworksaremeantthegooddeedswhichhedidwhenhewasaMuslim,andthesein

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References
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References
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Children
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2006-08-20 The
Muslim Malaise

factgofornothingeveninthislife,whenamanafterwardsadoptsunbeliefandevilcourses.Good
worksareonlyusefuliftheycontinuetoleadamanontobetterthings,anddevelopinhimthe
consciousnessofahigherlife.Elsewherethedeedsofapeoplearespokenofasgoingfornothing,
whentheyworksolelyforthislifeandneglectthehigher:Theywhoselabourislostinthisworldslif
andtheythinkthattheyarewellversedinskilloftheworkoftheirhands.Thesearetheywho
disbelieveinthecommunicationsoftheirLordandHismeeting,sotheirdeedsbecomenull,and
thereforeWewillnotsetupabalanceforthemontheDayofResurrection(18:104,105).Inthiscas
habtoftheworksofthislifemeanstheirbeinguselesssofarasthehigherlifeisconcerned.

Thethirdchapter,revealedinthethirdyearofHijrah,speaksagainandagainofpeoplewhohad
resortedtounbeliefafterbecomingMuslims,butalwaysspeaksoftheirpunishmentintheHereafter
HowshallAllahguideapeoplewhodisbelievedaftertheirbelievingandaftertheyhadbornwitness
thattheMessengerwastrue(3:86);TheirrewardisthatonthemisthecurseofAllah(3:87);
Exceptthosewhorepentafterthatandamend(3:88);Thosewhodisbelieveaftertheirbelieving,
thenincreaseindisbelief,theirrepentanceisnotaccepted(3:90).

Themostconvincingargumentthatdeathwasnotthepunishmentforapostasyiscontainedinthe
Jewishplans,conceivedwhiletheywerelivingundertheMuslimruleinMadinah:Andapartyofthe
PeopleoftheBooksay,Avowbeliefinthatwhichhasbeenrevealedtothosewhobelieve,inthefirst
partoftheday,anddisbelieveinthelatterpartofit(3:72).HowcouldpeoplelivingunderaMuslim
governmentconceiveofsuchaplantothrowdiscreditonIslam,ifapostasywaspunishablewith
death?ThefifthchapterMaidahisoneofthoserevealedtowardsthecloseoftheProphetslife,and
eveninthischapternoworldlypunishmentismentionedfortheapostates:Oyouwhobelieve!Such
oneofyouturnbackfromhisreligion,thenAllahwillbringapeoplewhomHelovesandwholove
Him(5:54).ThereforesofarastheQuranisconcerned,thereisnotonlynomentionofadeath
sentenceforapostatesbutsuchasentenceisnegativedbytheversespeakingofapostasy,aswellas
bythemagnachartaofreligiousfreedom,the256thverseofthesecondchapter,laikrahafildin,
Thereisnocompulsioninreligion.

Hadithinapostasy

LetusnowturntoTradition,foritisonthisauthoritythattheFiqhbookshavebasedtheirdeath
sentenceforapostates.Thewordsincertaintraditionshaveundoubtedlythereflexofalaterage,bu
stillacarefulstudyleadstotheconclusionthatapostasywasnotpunishableunlesscombinedwith
othercircumstanceswhichcalledforpunishmentofoffenders.Bukhari,whoisundoubtedlythemost
carefulofallcollectorsoftraditionsisexplicitonthepoint.Hehastwobooksdealingwiththe
apostates,oneofwhichiscalledKitabalmuharibinminahlalkufrwalridda,ortheBookofthose
whofight(againsttheMuslims)fromamongtheunbelieversandapostates,andtheotheriscalled

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2006-09-24
Response to
Pope's
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2006-12-03
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2006-12-23 Mary
and Baby Jesus
2007-11-01
Muslims and
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2007-12-09
'Muhammad'
case in Sudan
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Name?
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Pakistan looks to
Democracy
2008-04-30
Ahmadiyya Ban
2008-05-23 Don't
Judge Based on
Name
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Moderation
2008-07-25
Constitutional
Ideals

Kitabistiabatalmuanidinwalmurtaddinwaqitalihim,ortheBookofcallingtorepentanceofthe
enemiesandtheapostatesfightingwiththem.Bothoftheseheadingsspeakforthemselves.The
headingofthefirstbookclearlyshowsthatonlysuchapostatesaredealtwithinitasfightagainstthe
Muslims,andthatofthesecondassociatestheapostateswiththeenemiesofIslam.Thatisreallythe
cruxofthewholequestion,andisduetoamisunderstandingonthispointthatadoctrinewas
formulatedwhichisquitecontrarytotheplainteachingsoftheQuran.Atatimewhenwarwasin
progressbetweenMuslimsandtheunbelievers,itoftenhappenedthatapersonwhoapostatizedwe
overtotheenemyandjoinedhandswithhiminfightingagainsttheMuslims.Hewastreatedasan
enemy,notbecausehehadchangedhisreligionbutbecausehechangedsides.Eventhentherewere
tribesthatwerenotatwarwiththeMuslimsand,ifanapostateswentovertothem,hewasnot
touched.SuchpeopleareexpresslyspokenofintheQuran:Exceptthosewhojoinapeoplebetwee
whomandyouthereisanalliance,orwhocometoyou,theirheartsshrinkingfromfightingyou,or
fightingtheirownpeople;andifAllahhadpleasedHewouldhavegiventhempoweroveryousothat
theywouldhavefoughtyou;soiftheywithdrawfromyouandfightnotyouandofferyoupeace,the
Allahhasnotgiventoyouawayagainstthem(4:90).

Theonlycaseofpunishmentsofapostates,mentionedintrustworthytraditions,isthatofapartyof
Ukul,whoacceptedIslamandcametoMadinah.Theyfoundthattheclimateofthetowndidnot
agreewiththem,andtheProphetsentthemtoaplaceoutsideMadinahwherethestatemilchcame
werekept,sothattheymightliveintheopenairanddrinkofmilk.Theygotwellandthenkilledthe
keeperofthecamelsanddroveawaytheanimals.ThisbeingbroughttotheknowledgeoftheProphe
apartywassentinpursuitofthemandtheywereputtodeath(16)(Bu.56:12).

(16)Itisstatedinsometraditionsthattheyweretorturedtodeath,.Ifiteverhappened,itwasonlyb
wayofretaliation,asbeforetherevelationofpenallawsofIslam,retaliationwastheprevailingrule.
somereportsitisstatedthatthispartyofthetribeofUkulputouttheeyesofthekeeperofthe
camelsandthrewhimonhotstonestodieaslowdeathoftorture,andthattheywereputtodeathin
asimilarmanner.(Ai.VII,p.58).Butothershavedeniedthatthelawofretaliationwasappliedinthis
case.Accordingtothesereports,theProphethadintendedtoputthemtodeathbytortureinthe
samewayastheyhadputtodeaththekeeperofthecamels,butbeforetheywereexecutedhe
receivedtherevelationdealingwiththepunishmentofsuchoffenders:Theonlypunishmentfor
thosewhowagewaragainstAllahandHisMessengerandstrivetomakemischiefinthelandisthis,
thattheyshouldbekilledorcrucifiedortheirhandsandtheirfeetshouldbecutoffonoppositesides
ortheyshouldbeimprisoned(5:33).(IJC.VI,p.121).Theapostatesarethusspokenofhereas
wagingwaragainstGodandHisMessenger.Thepunishmentvariesaccordingtothenatureofthe
crime;itmaybedeathorevencrucifixionwheretheculprithascausedterrorinthelandoritmaybe
simplyimprisonment.

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2009-10-13
Muslim Leaders
and Obama
Nobel Peace
Prize
2009-11-09 NPR
Ft. Hood
Interview
2009-11-10 Faith
and the Fort
Hood Shootings
2009-11-13 Digesting the Ft.
Hood Massacre
2010-08-09
Support For
Church
2010-09-28 Satan
2010-10-29 Jews,
Muslims Have
Closer Ties
2010-11-30 Yet
Another
Blasphemy Case
Blasphemer
Harnessing the
Future of Islam
Muslim majority
must be willing
to take stand
against injustice
The Challenge
Goes Out to All
American
Muslims
Literature
A Manual of
Hadith

Thereportisclearonthepointthattheywereputtodeath,notbecauseoftheirapostasybutbecaus
theyhadkilledthekeeperofthecamels.

Muchstressislaidonatraditionwhichsays:Whoeverchangeshisreligion,killhim(Bu.89:2).Buti
viewofwhattheBukhariitselfhasindicatedbydescribingapostatesasfightersorbyassociatingthei
namewiththenameoftheenemiesofIslam,itisclearthatthisrefersonlytothoseapostateswhojo
handswiththeenemiesofIslamandfightwiththeMuslims.Itisonlybyplacingthislimitationonthe
meaningofthetraditionthatitcanbereconciledwithothertraditionsorwiththeprincipleslaiddow
intheQuran.Infact,itswordsaresocomprehensivethattheyincludeeverychangeoffaith,fromon
religiontoanyanotherwhatsoever;thusevenanonMuslimwhobecomesaMuslim,oraJew
becomesaChristian,mustbekilled.Evidently,suchastatementcannotbeascribedtotheProphet.S
thetraditioncannotbeaccepted,withoutplacingalimitationuponitsmeaning.

Anothertraditionrelatingtothesamesubjectthrowsfurtherlightonthesignificanceofthatquoted
above.InthisitisstatedthatthelifeofaMuslimmayonlybetakeninthreecases,oneofwhichisth
heforsakeshisreligionandseparateshimself(altarik)fromhiscommunity(liljamaah)(Bu.88:6).
Accordingtoanotherversion,thewordsarewhoforsakes(almufariq)hiscommunity.Evidently
separationfromthecommunityorforsakingofit,whichishereaddedasanecessarycondition,mean
thatthemanleavestheMuslimsandjoinstheenemycamp.Thusthewordsofthetraditionshowtha
itrelatestowartime;andtheapostateforfeitedhislifenotforchanginghisreligion,butfordesertion

AninstanceofasimplechangeofreligionisalsocontainedintheBukhari.AnArabofthedesertcam
totheProphetandacceptedIslamathishand;thenfeverovertookhimwhilehewasstillinMadinah
sohecametotheProphetandsaid,Givebackmypledge;andtheProphetrefused;thenhecame
againsandsaid,Givembackmypledge;andtheProphetrefused;thenhecameagainandsaid,Give
mebackmypledge;andtheProphetrefused;thenhewentaway(Bu.94:47)Thistraditionshowsth
themanfirstacceptedIslam,andthenextdayongettingfeverhethoughtthatitwasduehis
becomingaMuslim,andsohecamethrewbackthepledge.Thiswasaclearcaseofapostasy,yetitis
nowhererelatedthatanyonekilledhim.Ontheotherhand,thetraditionsaysthathewentaway
unharmed.

AnotherexampleofasimplechangeofreligionisthatofaChristianwhobecameaMuslimandthen
apostatizedandwentovertoChristianity,andyethewasnotputtodeath:Anassays,therewasa
ChristianwhobecameaMuslimandreadtheBaqarahandtheAlImran(2ndand3rdchaptersofthe
Quran),andheusedtowrite(theQuran)fortheProphet.HethenwentovertoChristianityagain,
andusedtosay,MuhammaddoesnotknowanythingexceptwhatIwroteforhim.ThenAllahcaused
himtodieandtheyburiedhim(Bu.61:25).Thetraditiongoesontosayhowhisbodywasthrownou
bytheearth.ThiswasevidentlyatMadinahaftertherevelationofthesecondandthirdchaptersoft

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Islam Peace and


Tolerance
Jesus in Heaven
on Earth
The Early
Caliphate
The Religion of
Islam
Adultery
Allah
Angels
Apostasy
Charity
Dar-al-Harb
Hajj
Ijtihad
Iman
Inheritance
Jinn
Life after
Death
Miracles
Paradise
Sinlessness of
Prophets
Sunnah and
Hadith
Taqdir or
Predestinati
Theory of
Abrogation
True Facts About
the Split

Quran,whenaMuslimstatewaswellestablished,andyetthemanwhoapostatizedwasnoteven
molested,thoughhespokeoftheProphetinextremelyderogatorytermsandgavehimouttobean
imposterwhoknewnothingexceptwhathe(theapostate)wroteforhim.

IthasalreadybeenshownthattheQuranspeaksofapostatesjoiningatribeonfriendlytermswith
theMuslims,andofotherswhowithdrewfromfightingaltogether,sidingneitherwiththeMuslimsn
withtheirenemies,anditstatesthattheywereleftalone(4:90).Allthesecasesshowthatthe
traditionrelatingtothekillingofthosewhochangetheirreligiononlytothosewhofoughtagainstth
Muslims.
ApostasyandFiqh

TurningtoFiqh,wefindthatthejuristsfirstlaydownaprinciplequiteopposedtotheQuran,namely
thelifeofamanmaybetakenonaccountofhisapostasy.ThusintheHidayah:Themurtadd
(apostate)shallhaveIslampresentedtohimwhetherheisafreemanoraslave;ifherefuses,hemu
bekilled(H.I,p.576).Butthisprincipleiscontradictedimmediatelyafterwardswhentheapostateis
calledanunbelieveratwar(kafirunkarabiyyun)whomtheinvitationofIslamhasalreadyreached.
(H.I,p.557).ThisshowsthateveninFiqh,theapostateforfeitshislifebecauseheisconsideredtobe
anenemyatwarwiththeMuslims.Andinthecaseoftheapostatewoman,theruleislaiddownthat
shehallnotbeputtodeath,andthefollowingargumentisgiven:OurreasonforthisisthattheHoly
Prophetforbadethekillingwomen,andbecauseoriginallyrewards(forbelieforunbelief)aredeferre
tothelatterabode,andtheirhastening(inthislife)bringsdisorder,andadeparturefromthis
(principle)isallowedonlyonaccountofanimmediatemischiefandthatishirab(war),andthiscanno
beexpectedfromwomenonaccountoftheunfitnessoftheirconstitution(H.I,p.577).

Andtheannotatoradds:Thekillingforapostasyisobligatoryinordertopreventthemischiefofwar
anditisnotapunishmentfortheactofunbelief(ibid.).Andagain:Formereunbeliefdoesnot
legalizethekillingofman(ibid.).Itwillbeseenthat,asinthecaseofawaragainstunbelievers,the
legistsarelabouringunderamisconception,andastruggleisclearlyseengoingonbetweenthe
principlesasestablishedintheQuranandthemisconceptionswhichhadsomehoworotherfound
theirwayintothemindsoflegists.Itisclearlylaiddownthattheapostateiskilled,inastateofwar,
andtheargumentisplainlygiventhatkillingforunbeliefisagainsttheacceptedprinciplesofIslam.B
themisconceptionisthatthemereabilitytofightistakenasawarcondition,whichisquiteillogical.
itismeantthattheapostatepossessesthepotentialitytofight,thenpotentiallyevenachildmaybe
calledaharabiyy(oneatwar),becausehewillgrowuptobeamanandhavetheabilitytofight;even
womanapostatescannotbeexceptedbecausetheyalsopossessthepotentialitytofight.Thelawof
punishmentisbasednotonthepotentialitiesbutonfacts.Thus,eventheFiqhrecognizestheprincip
thatthelifeofamancannotbetakenformerechangeofreligionandthat,unlesstheapostateisina

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sateofwar,hecannotbekilled.Itisquiteadifferentmatterthatthelegistsshouldhavemadea
mistakeindefininghiraborastateofwar.

Misc
Questions/Answers
Abrogation
Adam and Iblis

Beard
Determing
beginning of
Ramadan
Ethnocentricism
Evolution

Comments
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Arabia
Music
Paradise
People of the
Book Classification
People of the
Book - Marriage
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Pre-marital
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Prophets Making a
Distinction
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Theft
Qur'an 24:3
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