Does the Holy Qur’an mandate death for apostasy?

Welcome to Islam, the religion of peace… the way if you leave it we will kill you!  Huh?

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.  (Holy Qur’an 2:256)

Those who believe, then reject faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject faith, and go on increasing in unbelief,- Allah will not forgive them nor guide them nor guide them on the way.To the Hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them (but) a grievous penalty;-”  (Holy Qur’an 4:137-138)

“If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!: (Holy Qur’an 10:99)

Say, “The truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces, how dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on! (Holy Qur’an 18:29)

These very beautiful and powerful verses from the Holy Qur’an absolutely refutes any ijthihad from Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’i, Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Hanifa and the entire Ijma’ (consensus) of the Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah (Sunni Islam) that states that if any person leaves Islam they should be given three days to think about it and than executed. *

* Accordingly Abu Hanifa adds the caveat that this does not apply to women as they pose no threat to the religion.

Now the Sunni Muslims are in a real conundrum today.  Well, I should say the apologist and those who sit in front of the television to explain that Islam’s values are compatible with freedom.  I would say that people like Hamza Yusuf, Abdul Hakim Murad among others have a tall order in front of them.

In fact in this series I will show that both of these respected teachers have not been readily transparent with the academia and western audiences when talking about this very delicate subject.

How can Muslims expect the western academics, and non-Muslims to take us seriously  when we are not transparent about what the tradition says?

For me there is a very fascinating topic because it leaves those intellectuals and academics like Abdul Hakim Murad and Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir and others with a number of choices.

1) Embrace the Ijma’ (consensus) of Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah and plainly say in front of audiences ‘yes if the Shari’ah law were to hold sway and you were to leave the faith, you would be given the three days grace period to change your mind and than executed’.

They could challenge the very notion of freedom. I am sure intellectuals like Hamza Yusuf and Abdul Hakim Murad could take on the Western philosophical tradition; along with it’s notions of ethics and morality. Unfortunately, and I mean no disrespect, but quite a number of Sunni Muslims see people like Hamza Yusuf and Abdul Hakim Murad as ‘sell outs’ for not doing just that.   They feel they are placating western sympathies.  Some go far as to say they are apart of a western agenda to undermine Islam.

2) Take the current approach to dance around the subject, so that their precious construct (Sunni Islam) can remain unchallenged, and western audiences and academics feel placated that Islam is compatible with western ideas of freedoms.

In the long run this approach will not work.  The academics and orientalist will research and find out that Hamza Yusuf and Abdul Hakim Murad are not being readily transparent on the subject and respect for such representatives of Islam ultimately will be diminished.   No one likes to feel they have been given the ‘run around’.

3) Challenge the concept of ijma’ (consensus) and expose it for the fallacious construct that it is. This would entail upholding the verses of the Holy Qur’an above conflicting oral traditions.

For me personally I uphold what Allah says in the Holy Qur’an.  There is no punishment prescribed for people who leave faith.  Allah tells us that when someone leaves the faith they do so to their own loss.

Now the Holy Qur’an is  sufficient enough to give weight contrary to the Sunni position on the matter.

There are logical and theological reasons that also present a conundrum to the Sunni Ijma’ (consensus) on this issue as well.

The theological problem that it presents is that it presents us with a Creator that is  Holy, All Powerful, and All Mighty, and yet accepts hypocrisy or lip service.

This is a very serious matter.  Now obviously if I was to be executed I might simply say to the authorities, “Yes I believe in Islam” or “I believe in your particular flavour of Islam” .  So now imagine when this person is at home do you think they will pray? Of course not! They will go to the Friday prayer, and pray when their with relatives, or around others simply because they want to live!

So this now presents us with a juristic position in Islam that creates a theologically unacceptable, and untenable position. It has us to believe in a Creator that accepts hypocrisy!

Even though in the Holy Qur’an Allah says:

“The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them.” (Holy Qur’an 4:145)

The other issue it presents would be what would constitute a departure from faith?  For example the traditional books of the Sunni and Shi’a Muslim sects are filled with hateful comments that say things like ‘taking their blood is licit’.  So this is a position that creates chaos.

Simply because another Muslim may hold a theological view that I find to be unorthodox; or a position in jurisprudence that I find to be unacceptable; than this means that this person is given a brief time to consider their position before their life is to be terminated?

Islam connotes peace.  Where is the peace in such a position?   Maybe these people have such a sick and twisted understanding of peace that they believe that peace is the silence of any voice other than their own.  Maybe they envision peace as not some kind of internal connection to the divine; but a room that is completely silent with their own voice to amuse them.

This is a very warped understanding, It is so far from the Holy Quran . It is bizarre that the jurist could have consensus on such an opinion.

Judaism and Christianity may have become corrupt because of not having access to their revealed revelations.  However, it has become readily apparent to all and sundry that Islam  is being corrupted from the juristic machinations, and opinions of post civil war Islam.

Praise be to Allah who took me out from darkness; and brought me to life by the light of the Holy Qur’an!

“O mankind! verily there hath come to you a convincing proof from your Lord: For We have sent unto you a light that is manifest”.(Holy Qur’an 4:174)

Can he who was dead, to whom We gave life, and a light whereby he can walk among men, be like him who is in the depths of darkness, from which he can never come out? Thus to those without faith their own deeds seem pleasing.” (Holy Qur’an 6:122)


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6 responses to “Does the Holy Qur’an mandate death for apostasy?

  1. lookingfortruth1

    Jazakallah khair for this effort

    I know it’s hard to talk about religious matters, especially those of which were agreed upon for such a long time.

    Firstly, Abu Hanifa pointed out clearly that apostates should not be killed upon their change of religion, therefore from this, I conclude that this concept is not Ijma’.

    I also find it really troubling how TV muslims and those that speak of politics still adhere to these views, isn’t it about time that this changed, that finally, people wake up and study their religion conclusively.

    Often, Muslims speak about the cruel persecution that the sahaba and rasoolullah faced in Mecca. How odd would it then be to believe that apostates must be killed, if that is the case, and that is justice, then what the Meccans did with the Sahaba and our beloved prophet was liberating. That if there was an Islamic state, and someone claimed prophet hood, he would immediately be killed and so his message would have been perished in History.

    My advice would be that in writing about such controversial issues. It is important to make a well thought out analysis of the case, bringing what the hadith say, how other hadith contradict it, how our history dealt with it and to really hammer in on the case to make it as clear as possible for readers and especially literalists to swallow it. I know it’s hard as most cases are interlinked with stubbornness with sticking to buckari and muslim. Perhaps, a more in-depth understanding of the ayat of the Quran that call to justice, thinking and peace is a more powerful way of going about things since most people would ignore a hadith rejectors. It’s about time that scholars and well-educated muslims started challenging these issues wholly from their grass-roots.

    • “My advice would be that in writing about such controversial issues. It is important to make a well thought out analysis of the case, bringing what the hadith say, how other hadith contradict it, how our history dealt with it and to really hammer in on the case to make it as clear as possible for readers and especially literalists to swallow it.” Thank you so much for the thoughtful advise. I do appreciate.

  2. If there was indeed an earthly penalty for the apostates, then that would have required the word of ALLAAH: “There is no Compulsion in religion”. to have first been abrogated and Only ALLAAH (swt) may abrogate his commandments.

  3. 'abdullah


    I’m not sure I get the conundrum faced by the sunni ijmaa. If someone lies and pretends to convert to Islam, then the legal rulings of Islam would be applied to him, so does that mean Allah(swt) “accepts” hypocrisy? I don’t think so. Without the hadd al-riddah, hypocrisy and zandaqah would arguably be more accepted.

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