Is T.J Winter mistaken on apostasy laws?

“And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know it.”  (Qur’an 2:42).

 

There are increasingly many in the Sunni Muslim community who I feel are not being transparent when engaging Non-Muslim (Western) audiences. To deny that the consensus of the early Sunni Muslim scholars is that when someone leaves Islam they should be given three days to think about it and then executed.

How can we expect the Non-Muslims to take us seriously and respect us if we are not being truthful and transparent with them?

This is a transcript where T.J Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) is misinformed about the issue of the apostasy laws. I do not suspect that our respected Shaykh, Abdul Hakim Murad was deliberately misleading anyone. I feel that simply did not double-check the sources used by the scholar he primarily relied upon. May Allah guide him and us. May Allah bless him and us. 

http://ageofjahiliyah.wordpress.com/2007/09/01/abdal-hakim-murad-on-jihad-apostasy-rights-of-muslim-women/

In case someone feels that the respected teacher is being misrepresented you can check this as well:

Here is a transcript is taken from T.J Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad)-May Allah have abundant mercy on him and continue to benefit us through him.

HOW DOES ISLAM DEFINE APOSTASY? IS IT PERMISSIBLE FOR A MUSLIM TO CONVERT TO ANOTHER FAITH? HOW CAN LAWS AGAINST APOSTASY AND BLASPHEMY BE RECONCILED WITH THE KORANIC INJUNCTION OF “NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION”?

“Traditional human communities believe that truth leads to salvation, and error to damnation. It is probable that very many religious people in a variety of denominations still believe this. Historically, religiously-faithful princes have therefore seen it as necessary to use the coercive power of the state to forbid apostasy. One of the most powerful and persistent manifestations of this understanding in history was the Inquisition, which was definitively abolished in 1834. Protestant countries also respected this drastic principle; in fact, the first converts to Islam in Britain were impaled on stakes. In a Hindu context, ‘apostasy’ was often classified as a violation of caste rules and boundaries, and similarly, drastic consequences could follow. After the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1253, Buddhists who converted to Islam were routinely put to death.”-Abdul Hakim Murad

“The four canonical schools of Sunni Islamic law, and also most pre-modern Shi’a jurists, recommend similarly drastic penalties, although the judge is enjoined to ‘look for ambiguities’ in order to avert the death penalty wherever possible.”–Abdul Hakim Murad

“The Ottoman Caliphate, the supreme representative of Sunni Islam, formally abolished this penalty in the aftermath of the so-called Tanzimat reforms launched in 1839. The Shaykh al-Islam, the supreme head of the religious courts and colleges, ratified this major shift in traditional legal doctrine. It was pointed out that there is no verse in the Qur’an that lays down a punishment for apostasy (although chapter 5 verse 54 and chapter 2 verse 217 predict a punishment in the next world). It was also pointed out that the ambiguities in the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) suggest that apostasy is only an offense when combined with the crime of treason. These ambiguities led some medieval Muslims, long before the advent of modernisation, to reject the majority view. Prominent among them one may name al-Nakha’i (d.713), al-Thawri (d.772), al-Sarakhsi (d. 1090), al-Baji (d. 1081), and al-Sha’rani (d.1565). The debate triggered by the Ottoman reform was continued when al-Azhar University in Cairo, the supreme religious authority in the Arab world, delivered a formal fatwa (religious edict) in 1958, which confirmed the abolition of the classical law in this area.”–Abdul Hakim Murad

“Among radical Salafis and Wahhabis who do not accept the verdicts of the Ottoman or the Azhar scholars, it is generally believed that the majority medieval view should still be enforced.”-Abdul Hakim Murad

The best discussion of the controversy is the book by Mohammed Hashim Kamali, “Freedom of Expression in Islam” (Cambridge, 1997).

The book that T.J Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) recommends is available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Expression-Fundamental-Rights-Liberties/dp/0946621608

Now do note that he said the following:

He clearly pointed out that the “majority medieval view was that apostasy should be punished with death”, he also mentioned that: “The four canonical schools of Sunni Islamic law, and also most pre-modern Shi’a jurists, recommend similarly drastic penalties” 

However, 

When he says,
“The Ottoman Caliphate, the supreme representative of Sunni Islam, formally abolished this penalty in the aftermath of the so-called Tanzimat reforms launched in 1839”

A person should note that this is when the reformist position has started to take hold among Sunni Muslims. Indeed many Sunni Muslims would ask on what basis can the Ottoman Caliphate abolish the consensus of the four schools of jurisprudence?

There is ijma’ that the apostate is put to death as cited by Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani in his Fath al Bari – a consensus that was reached during the time of the Companions themselves which makes it of the highest form.

This is consensus is also mentioned in al Jawhara’s Nawadir al Ijma’ and by Ibn Qattan in his book on Ijma’.

 Now notice that T.J Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) says the following:

 These ambiguities led some medieval Muslims, long before the advent of modernization, to reject the majority view. Prominent among them one may name al-Nakha’i (d.713), al-Thawri (d.772)

Please note the only two authorities are quoted from a very early period 713 and 772.

However, a Sufi Muslim scholar who is also a Sunni Muslim and a staunch and tenacious defender of traditional Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah (Sunni Islam) by the name of Shaykh Gibril Haddad has exposed this mistaken claim here:

http://www.livingislam.org/k/cfei_e.html

After double-checking and verifying the sources Gibril Haddad has answered Hashim Kamali for now misquoting sources and also misquoting the position of the earlier scholars on the matter.

For example, this is just one example where Gibril Haddad takes Hashim Kamali to account(and by extension Shaykh T.J Winter)

“Kamali states:

“In the light of this, it is not surprising to find a number of prominent ‘ulama’, across the centuries, subscribing to the view that apostasy is not a punishable offense. Ibrahim al-Nakha’i (d. 95/713), a leading jurist and traditionist among the generation succeeding the Companions, and Sufyan al-Thawri’ (d. 161/772), who is known as ‘the prince of the believers concerning Hadith’ (amir al-mu’minin fi’l- Hadith) and is the author of two important compilations of Hadith, namely al-Jami’ al-Kabir, and al-Jami’ al- Saghir, both held that the apostate should be re-invited to Islam, but should never be condemned to death. They maintained the view that the invitation should continue for as long as there is hope that the apostate might change his mind and repent.FN184. Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Sarim al-Maslul `ala Shatim al- Rasul, p. 321; al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar, VII, p. 230.”

Gibril Haddad responds:


“This is a misreading of al-Nakha`i’s statement: “The murtadd is summoned to repent indefinitely” (al-murtaddu yustatabu abadan) [`Abd al-Razzaq 10:166, Mughni 8:125] which does not mean that the hadd is not applied, for that would violate the Sunna and Consensus, but rather that if the murtadd re-enters Islam then recants a second time he is summoned to repent a second time, and if he recants again after his second repentance he is summoned a third time, and so on indefinitely;
however, if he refuses to repent he is killed, as al- Nakha`i himself said: “The male murtadd is summoned to repent, and if he repents he is left alone, otherwise he is put to death” [Abu Yusuf, kharaj no. 180, Mughni 8:123-124], and “The female murtadda is summoned to re-embrace Islam, and if she surrenders she is left alone, but if she refuses she is put to death” [Abu Yusuf, Aathaar no. 161, `Abd al-Razzaq 10:176, Ibn Abi Shayba 2:137].”

As for al-Thawri, his position as related by the same sources is identical or stricter, since he says that the maximum number of repetitions is three.”

 

The other thing that I wanted to add here is that it was very distasteful for Timothy Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) to make the following dig at a rival Sunni faction when he says, ” 

“Among radical Salafis and Wahhabis who do not accept the verdicts of the Ottoman or the Azhar scholars, it is generally believed that the majority medieval view should still be enforced.”

You see what happens today too often in the West is that Sunni Muslims who are open to Sufi traditions try and have their cake and eat it too.  They will placate western audiences with answers like that given by our brother Shaykh T.J Winter above while taking a dig at Sunni Muslims -those they label ‘Wahhabis’ 

The very sad thing is that if our Shaykh T.J Winters believes in traditional Islam as he claims, he can’t disavow the punishment for apostasy in traditional Sunni Islamic jurisprudence and claim to follow ‘The people of the Sunnah & Consensus‘. 

Now some people may think that I am being very unfair to our Shaykh T.J Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad).

Maybe he took Hashim Kamali at his word and didn’t double-check his references.

Well, that is exactly why I am being tough in my approach to Abdul Hakim Murad (T.J Winter). to do so otherwise is to disrespect a person of great caliber.  T. J Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) is a very learned, intelligent, and well-read man.  

He must have known full well that Hashim Kamali has modernist leanings, and thus may try and skew the argument against apostasy towards his favour. It would have been dutiful for Abdul Hakim Murad to double-check his sources knowing this.

However, in fairness, if I receive an e-mail (primaquran@gmail.com) from T.J Winter and he mentions that he now succumbs to the consensus of the Ahl Sunnah or that he simply disavows the consensus, I would be more than happy to edit this entry accordingly. 

A word on Shaykh Gibril Haddad.  I had the good pleasure of meeting this extraordinary man during the ‘Sacred Path of Love Conference‘ organized in Singapore in 2011. It was in the meeting room that he told me that his soon released ‘Sunnah Notes Vol 3’ was to be released.  I also observed him during the mid-afternoon prayer and I can say that this is a man lost in his Creator during the prayer.

No doubt if he saw this web site he would distance himself from me as an innovator, open sinner, and someone destined for ruin.   That does not diminish my respect for him being transparent and honest.

He is a tenacious and ferocious defender of Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah (Sunni Islam).  Although he holds to a tenuous statement in creed, such as ‘the Quran being un-created and eternal‘ I think that few alive can match him in academic acumen and knowledge. He is certainly circumspect. Allah knows best.

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Is T.J Winter mistaken on apostasy laws?

  1. Pingback: Hamza Yusuf and his take on apostasy laws. | primaquran

  2. ibnabutalib

    “After double checking and verifying the sources Gibril Haddad has exposed Hashim Kamali for now misquoting sources, and also misquoting the position of the earlier scholars on the matter.”

    If I remember correctly, Shk. Abdullah Bin Bayyah also noted that An Nakhai was against the death penalty for apostates. You can see the video here http://vimeo.com/43047188

    • Thank you for the link! If it came to an exchange between Shk Abdullah Bin Bayyah and Gibril Haddad that would be well over my head! For sure I would say that Shk Abdullah Bin Bayyah is more knowledgeable between the two. Yet, that being said I would feel that Gibril Haddad scope of knowledge is more broad; where as Shk Abdullah Bin Bayyah is more focused.

      Either way it brings hope for those who believe in Prima-Qur’an.
      1) If Shk Abdullah Bin Bayyah is correct, and feels comfortable to put forth this scholar, than it shows that even one dissenting view is acceptable. I would welcome this wholeheartedly, because it would challenge the Sunni sect’s concept of consensus to the very core! To see Skh Abdullah Bin Bayyah put this forward is very eye opening.

  3. Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look
    forward to new posts.

    • Thank you for your positive feed back. I currently do not have Twitter. However, I am planning in the future to have a Twitter account as well as do some YouTube videos. Please keep me in your prayers. I will continue to do my best to present information that I hope is beneficial to all. Thank you!

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    Extremely helpful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info much.
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    • Bismlilah, I am happy that you found what you are looking for. I am doing my utmost to provide relevant, and accurate information.

      It is my sincere hope we can be transparent and open with each other.

  5. Pingback: Book Review : “The Four Imams and their Schools” By Gibril Fouad Haddad | primaquran

  6. rich

    If you write about someone like you have, you should at lest get him name right.

  7. Thank you Rich! I have the correction, Winter(s) to Winter. Also, wouldn’t it be “at-least” get ‘his’ name right? Cheers!

  8. How do you know if something like an ijma from hadiths contradicts the Qur’an or its “spirit”? What if your understanding of the Qur’an or its “spirit” is wrong? For example the people who oppose the apostasy laws claim to cite the verse on the no compulsion in religion etc. But the fact is, we have to look at what those verses on compulsion etc mean, and we can only look at them through the historical background and context. From it we find out that they weren’t talking about apostasy from Islam, but were talking about people who were Christians/Jews etc and were forced to convert to Islam. The Qur’an thus addressed them and essentially said that people who were from a different religion, can’t be forced to convert to Islam. The verse doesn’t say anything about punishing people who left Islam. In fact, if you look at the historical background and context of certain verses (such as the ones mentioned by shaykh GF Haddad,), you will see that some Qur’anic verses clearly mandate capital punishment for apostasy.

    • Saeed Baker, Thank you for your comment!

      There are usually two types of people who do not want Holy Qur’an 2:256 to be used as a statement against compulsion.

      Some of the traditionalist who hold to the view (such as GF Haddad)

      and people with Anti Islam sentiment. They actually are troubled by such text and so they are hoping that certain traditionalist views are correct. Thus, they can use that as ammunition in their strife against Islam.

      Let us turn our attention to what you have put out there.

      “How do you know if something like an ijma from hadiths contradicts the Qur’an or its “spirit”? What if your understanding of the Qur’an or its “spirit” is wrong?”

      We know this because the same traditionalist that GF Haddad and others follow also use this as a principle. In other words if something was seen to contradict the Holy Qur’an it would immediately garner closer scrutiny.

      As far as ‘my understanding of the Qur’an being wrong’. That certainly has been the case before in the past and could very well be the case in the future.

      Allah (s.w.t) grants guidance and understanding to whom he wills.

      I also would imagine that I do not have the only understanding; for me I know it is not the case. The very language of the Qur’an and the grammar used open itself up to various understandings.

      A classic example of this in a tradition your most likely familiar with is the issue of ‘lam’ or touching nullifying one’s ablution.

      However; where I would say we part with them, is that often times when secondary sources contradict with primary sources (The Holy Qur’an) elaborate doctrines such as ‘abrogation’ are concocted to salvage tradition.

      We have demonstrated that in our article on the subject if you are interested in taking a look at it.

      You continue:

      ” For example the people who oppose the apostasy laws claim to cite the verse on the no compulsion in religion etc. But THE FACT IS, we have to look at what those verses on compulsion etc mean, and we can only look at them through the HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT. From it we find out that they weren’t talking about apostasy from Islam, but were talking about people who were Christians/Jews etc and were forced to convert to Islam. The Qur’an thus addressed them and essentially said that people who were from a different religion, can’t be forced to convert to Islam. The verse doesn’t say anything about punishing people who left Islam. IN FACT, if you look at the HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT of certain verses ……..”

      You have used ‘in fact’ and ‘historical background and context’ which shows to me you put a great deal of trust in what you have been told concerning ‘the occasion of revelation’. Rather it was at Madinah University (which I doubt giving your comment on another post). Or from the Habib in Yemen, or from Al Ahzar in Cairo, or from Deoband in India, or from Amman Jordan and so forth.

      I don’t put my trust in that. In fact, none of the faculty, and shyookh from any of those places can give you the asbab an nuzul for 4:157 of the Holy Qur’an.

      It has a huge impact upon nearly 2 billion Christians.

      For further reflections on this I would encourage you to read our article here:
      https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/understanding-the-quran-without-asbab-an-nuzul-occasion-of-revelation/

      “(such as the ones mentioned by shaykh GF Haddad,), you will see that some Qur’anic verses clearly mandate capital punishment for apostasy.”

      If you would like to bring the verses that you feel ‘clearly mandate’ capital punishment than do so.

      Thank you!

  9. This link doesn’t work anymore.

    It’s not clear to me how your view on apostasy is different from that of G.F. Haddads’. In the linked article, G.F. Haddad states:

    -“The Prophet, upon him peace, spelled out the CONDITION for killing the apostate: that he be a MUHARIB i.e. a vocal or active enemy of Islam:
    “The book of a Muslim is illicit to shed except for one of three reasons: a married adulterer must be stoned; one who wilfully commits murder must be put to death; and a man who comes out of Islam and FIGHTS ALLAH AND HIS PROPHET must be put to death or crucified or banished from the earth.””

    -“The above reasoning is fallacious from two perspectives: [1] it dresses in the robe of ijtihad what is ALREADY established in the hadith without need for ijtihad, namely, “and a man who comes out of Islam and FIGHTS ALLAH AND HIS PROPHET” as we already cited…”

    In my understanding, you believe the death penalty is at least possible for apostasy on condition the apostate is an “ACTIVE ENEMY” or treasonous. So this “complex apostasy” is punishable by death but “simple apostasy” i.e. leaving Islam without violence or the threat of it, is not (definition of “active enemy” aside).

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