“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.
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:
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”
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:
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)
“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 (email@example.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.