LEAVING ISLAM Apostates Speak Out

Ed. Ibn Warraq

Prometheus Books New York 2003 www.prometheusbooks.com

Apostates Speak Out


Prometheus Books

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Published 2003 by Prometheus Books

Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out. Copyright © 2003 by Ibn Warragq. All rights re- served. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the Internet or a Web site without prior written

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Leaving Islam : apostates speak out / edited by Ibn Warraq. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1-59102-068-9 (alk. paper) 1. Apostasy—Islam. 2. Liberty of conscience (Islam). 3. Religious tolerance— Islam. 4. Christian converts from Islam. 5. Islam—Controversial literature. I. Ibn Warraq.

BP168.L43 2003 297—dc21 2003041377

Printed in Canada on acid-free paper To my children "I refuse to belong to a religion that will not not have me as a member."

-I[bn Warraq

(with apologies to Groucho Marx) "You hate our Cassandra cries and resent us as allies, but when all is said, we ex-Communists are the only people on your side who know what it's all about."

-Arthur Koestler "The predicament of Western civilization is that it has ceased to be aware of the values which it is in peril of losing."

-Arthur Koestler


Preface PART 1:


2. Early History of Apostasy in Islam: Zindigs, Atheists, Dualists, Mystics, and Freethinkers

3. Al-Rawandi and AI-Razi 4. Sufism, or Islamic Mysticism and the Rejection of Islam 5. Abu 'I-Ala' Ahmad b. Abd Allah b. Sulayman al-Ma‘arri

6. The Poet of Doubt: Umar Khayyam: Medieval and Modern Iranian Freethought

7. Apostates of Islam I: Converts to Christianity

8. Apostates of Islam IH: Converts to Hinduism, Humanism, Deism, Atheism, and Agnosticism

9. Apostasy, Human Rights, and Islam PART 2: TESTIMONIES SUBMITTED TO THE ISIS WEB SITE 10. Introduction Ibn Warraq 11. Testimonies from the ISIS Web Site PART 3: TESTIMONIES OF BORN MUSLIMS: MURTADD FITRI 12. Introduction: The Allah That Failed Ibn Warraq

13. Why I Left Islam: My Passage From Faith to Enlightenment Ali Sina (Iran)

14. A Journal of My Escape from the Hell of Islam Sheraz Malik (Pakistan)

15. Islamic Terrorism and the Genocide in Bangladesh Abul Kasem (Bangladesh)

16. An Iranian Girlhood and Islamic Barbarism Parvin Darabi (Iran) 17. Leaving Islam and Living Islam Azam Kamguian (Iran)

18. Thinking for Oneself Faisal Muhammad (Pakistan)

19. A Rationalist Look at Islam Husain Ahmed (Pakistan)

20. Floods, Droughts, Islam, and Other Natural Calamities Syed K. Mirza (Bangladesh)

21. Liberation from Muhammadan Ideology Shoaib Nasir (Pakistan) 22. A View from the Far East Shah Ismail (Far East) 23. An Accidental Critic Taner Edis (Turkey) 24. On Being a Woman in Pakistan Qayyum (Pakistan) 25. The Lifting of the Veil of Blind Faith Sophia (Pakistan) 26. Autobiography of a Dissident Anwar Shaikh (Pakistan) 27. Now I Am Guided Muhammad bin Abdulla (Bangladesh) 28. The Wind Blowing through My Hair Nadia (Morocco) 29. A Philosopher's Rejection of Islam Irfan Khawaja (Pakistan) 30. My Malaise A Malaysian Ex-Muslim (Malaysia) 31. A Nightmare in Tunisia Samia Labidi (Tunisia) 32. An Atheist from Andhra Pradesh Azad (India) PART 4:

TESTIMONIES OF WESTERN CONVERTS: MURTADD MILLI 33. From Submitter to Mulhid Denis Giron (United States) 34. A Spanish Testament: My Experience As a Muslim Rene (Spain)

35. "Forget What Is and Is Not Islam" Michael Muhammad Knight (United States)

36. I Married a Muslim Faiza (United States) 37. Dark Comedy Ben Hoja (United States)


A. Islam on Trial: The Textual Evidence Muhammad and His Companions

"Out of Context"

The Koran


Anwar Shaikh and the Inconsistencies of the Koran B. Ex-Muslims of the World Unite!

ISIS: Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society Faith Freedom International

Advocates of Article 18

Apostates of Islam

C. The Council for Secular Humanism

D. A List of Web Sites Critical of Islam

E. Bibliography of Books Critical of Islam


11 the testimonies here are witnesses to the authors' courage, for a free discussion of Islam remains rare and dangerous, certainly in the Islamic world and even in our politically correct times in the West. A surprising number of the apostates decided to write under their real names, a triumphant gesture of defiance and freedom. Many, on the other hand, have chosen to write pseudonymously, and since this is a fact that seems to irritate many in the secular West, I shall briefly indicate the reasons why. Apostasy is still punishable by long prison sentences and even death in many Islamic countries such as Iran and Pakistan, and as many of our authors have relatives in those countries, whom they regularly visit, it is common sense and simple prudence not to use their real names. Others still do not wish to unnecessarily upset husbands, wives, parents, and close relatives who, for the most part, remain ignorant of their act of apostasy.

The opinions expressed, and their manner of expression, in the testimonies are the individual responsibility of each author. As editor, I do not always or necessarily share the sentiments of the contributors, some of whom would now describe themselves as deists, agnostics, or even Christians. We are all, however, united in totally rejecting Islam, and prefer living in a democracy, where a firm separation of religion and state is in place, to living under an Islamic theocracy.

After the name of each author in part 3 1 have added in brackets the author's country of origin, to give an idea of the geographical range of the apostates and their cultural background. In one case, although the author was born in the United States, I have indicated the country of origin of his parents, again to indicate the cultural background of the kind of Islam in which he grew up.

Where does one go for spiritual and intellectual sustenance once one has abandoned Islam? One could join and participate in the activities of the following organizations founded expressly for former Muslims, for a totally uninhibited but necessary critique of the religion they have left behind but which

they see as a danger for democratic societies: ? Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society (ISIS) ? Faith Freedom International ? Advocates of Article 18 ? Apostates of Islam I have devoted some more pages to the above organizations in appendix B.

I have tried not to be too pedantic about the diacritical marks necessary for a scientific system of transliterating Arabic proper names and words. In part 1 I have tried to be as rigorous as possible, while in the appendices I have carefully transliterated the names of Muslim authors and the Arabic titles of their works. However, I have not transliterated each and every Arabic name or Arabic word in the extensive quotes given in the appendices. In the forty-five or so testimonies, I have only occasionally-though not, I hope, obsessively-intruded to add the correct transliterated form of an Arabic name or religious term.

At the beginning of appendix A, part 3, 1 have explained that for the verse numbering (and only for the verse numbering) of the Koranic quotes, I have used M. Pickthall's translation, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (London, 1930). Pickthall was a Muslim, and his translation is highly respected by all Muslims and is easily available. However, for the actual translation of the verses I have employed various works indicated in appendix A, part 3.





postasy in some form or other seems to have occupied Judaism, Christianity, and even Greek and Roman religions, despite the fact that the notion of exclusivity was alien to the two Classical religions. The attitudes and acts toward those these religions regarded as apostate developed over several centuries. In Judaism, the apostate who abandons his ancestral religion for Christianity, for example, is considered a traitor, and by 100 C.E. the rabbis had in place a prayer that read, "For apostates let there be no hope. The dominion of arrogance do thou speedily root out in our days. And let Christians and the sectarians perish in a moment. Let them be blotted out of the book of life." By the third century C.E., the rabbis had legal power to expel apostates from Judaism. In the Classical world, we had the edict of Diocletian against the Manichaeans (297 C.E.), which read, "It is the most serious crime to reject what once and for all has been arranged and established by the ancestors." In Christianity from the third century onward, apostasy meant paganism, and was punished ever more severely. Indeed, for the early church "apostasy was an inexpiable offense. After baptism there was no forgiveness of this sin."" By 445 C.E., "two edicts directed that persons having betrayed the holy faith shall be segregated from the community of all men, shall not have testamentary capacity, shall not inherit, shall forfeit their position and status, and shall be branded with perpetual infamy." 2 Interestingly enough, the Christians carried on the persecution of the Manichaeans started by Diocletian in 297 C.E.

While Christianity and Islam each claimed to be the sole custodian of God's final revelation to mankind, and neither admitted salvation outside its own system of beliefs,’ Hinduism and Buddhism have never entertained any notion of exclusivity; hence the total absence of any idea of apostasy. Articles on apostasy in encyclopedias pass the latter two religions by.4



The Arabic word for apostate is murtadd, "the one who turns back from Islam," and apostasy is denoted by irtidad and ridda. Ridda seems to have been used for apostasy from Islam into unbelief (in Arabic kufr), and irtidad from Islam to some other religion.’ A person born of Muslim parents who later rejects Islam is called a Murtadd Fitri; ftri meaning "natural," it can also mean "instinctive, native, inborn, innate." One who converts to Islam and subsequently leaves it is a Murtadd Milli; from milla, meaning "religious community." The Murtadd Fitri can be seen as someone unnatural, subverting the natural course of things, whose apostasy is a wilful and obstinate act of treason against God and the one and only true creed, and a betrayal and desertion of the community. The Murtadd Milli is a traitor to the Muslim community and equally disruptive.

Any verbal denial of any principle of Muslim belief is considered apostasy. If one declares, for example, that the universe has always existed or that God has material substance, then one is an apostate. If one denies the unity of God or confesses to a belief in reincarnation, one is guilty of apostasy. Certain acts are also deemed acts of apostasy: for example, treating a copy of the Koran disrespectfully, by burning it or even soiling it. Some doctors of Islamic law claim that a Muslim becomes an apostate if he or she enters a church, worships an idol, or learns and practices magic. A Muslim becomes an apostate if he defames the Prophet's character, morals, or virtues, and denies Muhammad's prophethood and that he was the seal of the prophets.

The Koran

It is clear quite clear that under Islamic law an apostate must be put to death. There is no dispute on this ruling among classical or modern Muslim scholars,7 and we shall return to the textual evidence for it. However, there is some controversy as to whether the Koran prescribes any punishment for apostasy in this world. Some modern scholars have argued that the apostate is threatened with punishment only in the next world, as, for example, at X VI.106:

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief-save him who is forced

thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith-but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom.

Similarly in III. 90-91:

Lo! those who disbelieve after their (profession of) belief, and afterward grow violent in disbelief: their repentance will not be accepted. And such are those who are astray. Lo! those who disbelieve, and die in disbelief, the (whole) earth full of gold would not be accepted from such an one if it were offered as a ransom (for his soul). Theirs will be a painful doom and they will have no helpers.

However sura 11.217 is interpreted by no less an authority than al-Shafi,i (d. 820 GE.), the founder of one of the four orthodox schools of law of Sunni Islam, to mean that the death penalty should be prescribed for apostates. Sura 11.217 reads: ". .. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and the next, and they are the companions of the fire for ever." Al-Tha alibi and al-Khazan concur. Al-Razi, in his commentary on 11.217, says the apostate should be killed.’

Similarly, IV.89:

They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all like alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes for the cause of God. If they desert you seize them and put them to death wherever you find them. Look for neither friends nor helpers among them....

Baydawi (d, c. 13 15-16), in his celebrated commentary on the Koran, interprets this passage to mean: "Whosover turns back from his belief (irtada), openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard." Ibn Kathir, in his commentary on this passage, quoting Al-Suddi (d.

745), says that since the unbelievers have manifested their unbelief they should be killed.10

Abu'l A’‘la' Mawdudi (1903-1979), the founder of the Jama'at-i Islami, is

perhaps the most influential Muslim thinker of the twentieth century, being responsible for the Islamic resurgence in modern times. He called for a return to the Koran and a purified sunna as a way to revive and revitalize Islam. In his book on apostasy in Islam, Mawdudi argued that even the Koran prescribes the death penalty for all apostates. He points to sura IX: 11,12 for evidence:

But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief-Lo! they have no binding oaths in order that they may desist.

Mawdudi argues that

the following is the occasion for the revelation of this verse: During the pilgrimage (hajj) in A.H. 9 God Most High ordered a proclamation of an immunity. By virtue of this proclamation all those who, up to that time, were fighting against God and His Apostle and were attempting to obstruct the way of God's religion through all kinds of excesses and false covenants, were granted from that time a maximum respite of four months. During this period they were to ponder their own situation. If they wanted to accept Islam, they could accept it and they would be forgiven. If they wanted to leave the country, they could leave. Within this fixed period nothing would hinder them from leaving. Thereafter those remaining, who would neither accept Islam nor leave the country, would be dealt with by the sword. In this connection it was said: "If they repent and uphold the practice of prayer and almsgiving, then they are your brothers in religion. If after this, however, they break their covenant, then war should be waged against the leaders of kufr (infidelity). Here "covenant breaking" in no way can be construed to mean "breaking of political covenants." Rather, the context clearly determines its meaning to be "confessing Islam and then renouncing it." Thereafter the meaning of "fight the heads of disbelief’ ([X:11,12) can only mean that war should be waged against the leaders instigating apostasy.n


Here we find many traditions demanding the death penalty for apostasy. According to Ibn “Abbas, the Prophet said, "Kill him who changes his religion" or "behead him."" The only argument was as to the nature of the death penalty. Bukhari recounts this gruesome tradition:

Narrated Anas: Some people from the tribe of UkI came to the Prophet and embraced Islam. The climate of Medina did not suit them, so the Prophet ordered them to go to the (herd of milch) camels of charity to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). They did so, and after they had recovered from their ailment they turned renegades (reverted from Islam, irtada) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels

away. The Prophet sent (some people) in their pursuit and so they were caught and brought, and the Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and that their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterised, till they die.13

Abu Dawud has collected the following saying of the Prophet:

Ikrimah said: Ali burned some people who retreated from Islam. When IN “Abbas was informed of it he said, If it had been 1, 1 would not have them burned, for the apostle of Allah said: Do not inflict Allah's punishment on anyone. But would have killed them on account of the statement of the Apostle of Allah, Kill those who change their religion.14

In other words, kill the apostates (with the sword), but certainly not by burning them, as that is Allah's way of punishing transgressors in the next world. According to a tradition of “A'isha's, apostates are to be slain, crucified, or banished." Should the apostate be given a chance to repent? Traditions differ enormously. In one tradition, Mu adh Jabal refused to sit down until an apostate brought before him had been killed "in accordance with the decision of God and of His Apostle."" But in Abu Dawud's version of this tradition, it seems they tried in vain to convert the apostate for twenty nights: "Abu Burdah said: A man who turned back from Islam was brought to Abu Musa. He invited him to repent for twenty days or about so. Mu‘adh then came and invited him (to embrace Islam) but he refused. So he was beheaded." Abu Dawud also gives an example of the Prophet forgiving an apostate-once the latter had agreed to come back to the fold, of course." However, Ibn Hanbal and others have traditions according to which God does not accept repentance of an apostate.

Under Muslim law, the male apostate must be put to death, as long as he is an adult and in full possession of his faculties. If an underage boy apostatizes, he is imprisoned until he comes of age; if he persists in rejecting Islam he must be put to death. Drunkards and the mentally disturbed are not held responsible for their apostasy. If a person has acted under compulsion he is not considered an apostate, his wife is not divorced, and his lands are not forfeited. According to Hanafis and Shila, a woman is imprisoned until she repents and adopts Islam once more, but according to the influential Ibn Hanbal and the Malikis and

Shafi°is, she is also put to death. In general, execution must be by the sword, though there are examples of apostates tortured to death, or strangled, burned, drowned, impaled, or flayed. The caliph “Umar used to tie them to a post and had lances thrust into their hearts, and the Sultan Baybars 11 (1308-1309) made torture legal.

Should attempts be made at conversion? Some jurists accept the distinction between Murtadd Fitri and Murtadd Milli, and argue that the former be put to death immediately. Others, leaning on sura IV.137 ("Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will he guide them unto a way"), insist on three attempts at conversion, or have the apostate imprisoned for three days. Others argue that one should wait for the cycle of the five times of prayer and ask the apostate to perform the prayers at each. Only if he refuses at each prayer time is the death penalty to be applied. If he repents and embraces Islam once more, he is released.19

The murtadd, of course, is denied a Muslim burial, but he also suffers other civil disabilities. His property is taken over by the believers; if he returns penitent, he is given back what remains. Others argue that the apostate's rights of ownership are merely suspended; only if the dies outside the territory under Islam does he forfeit his property to the Muslim community. If either the husband or wife apostasizes, a divorce takes place ipso facto; the wife is entitled to her whole dower, but no pronouncement of divorce is necessary. According to some jurists, if husband and wife apostasize together, their marriage is still valid. However, if either the wife or husband singly returns to Islam, their marriage is dissolved .211 According to Abu Hanifa, legal activities such as manumission, endowment, testament and sale are suspended. But not all jurists agree. Some Shili jurists would ask the Islamic law toward apostates to be applied even outside the Dar al-Islam, in non-Muslim countries.

Finally, according to the Shafi'is it is not only apostasy from Islam that is to be punished with death, but also apostasy from other religions that is unaccompanied by conversion to Islam. For example, a Jew who becomes a Christian must be put to death, since the Prophet has ordered in general that everyone "who adopts any other religion" shall be put to death.21


There are four major schools of law in Sunni Islam; I shall quote representative documents concerning apostasy from three of them. I shall also quote one modern Sunni pronouncement on apostasy, and a modern Shia declaration.

Malik ibn Anas

Malik ibn Anas (d. 795 c.E.) developed his ideas in Medina, where he is said to have known one of the last survivors of the companions of the Prophet. His doctrine is recorded in the work al-Muwatta', which has been adopted by most Muslims in Africa, with the exception of Lower Egypt, Zanzibar, and South Africa.

1410: Zayd b. Aslam reported that the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) declared that the man who leaves the fold of Islam should be executed.

1411: Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Qari' reported that a man came to ‘Umar b. al-Khattab from Abu Musa Ashar (Yemen). 'Umar b. al-Khattab asked him about the condition of the people there. He gave the information. 'Umar b. al-Khattab then said: Have you anything extraordinary to report? The man said: Yes. A man had left the fold of Islam and became an infidel. He asked: What treatment had been meted out to him? He replied: We caught him and beheaded him. “Umar declared: It would have been better if you had cast him in prison for three days and given him one bread each day and asked him to repent. Perhaps he would have repented and obeyed the commands of the Lord. ‘Umar added: Oh, Allah, I was not present there, neither did I give any order, nor did I feel happy when I learnt it. (chap. 440)

Ahu Hanifa

Abu Hanufa (d. 767 c.E.), the founder of the Hanif-t, was born in Iraq. His school is said to have given more scope to reason and logic than the other schools. The Muslims of India and Turkey follow this school.

We shall quote from the greatest compendium of Hanifi law, called the Hiduya, which was compiled by Burhan al-Din Ali al-Marghinani (d. 1197):

When a Mussulman apostatizes from the faith, an exposition thereof is to be laid before him, in such a manner that if his apostasy should have arisen from any religious doubts or scruples, those may be removed. The reason for laying an exposition of the faith before him is that it is possible some doubts or errors may have arisen in his mind, which may be removed by such exposition; and as there are only two modes of repelling the sin of apostasy, namely, destruction or Islam, and Islam is preferable to destruction, the evil is rather to be removed by means of an exposition of the faith; but yet this exposition of the faith is not incumbent, (according to what the learned have remarked upon this head), since a call to the faith has already reached the apostate.

An apostate is to be imprisoned for three days, within which time if he return to the faith, it is well: but if not, he must be slain.-It is recorded in the Jana Sagheer that "an exposition of the faith is to be laid before an apostate, and if he refuse the faith, he must be slain:"-and with respect to what is above stated, that "he is to be imprisoned for three days," it only implies that if he require a delay, three days may be granted him, as such is the term generally admitted and allowed for the purpose of consideration. It is recorded from Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf that the granting of a delay of three days is laudable, whether the apostate require it or not: and it is recorded from Shafi i that it is incumbent on the Imam to delay for three days, and that it is not lawful for him to put the apostate to death before the lapse of that time; since it is most probable that a Mussulman will not apostatise but from some doubt or error arising in his mind; wherefore some time is necessary for consideration; and this is fixed at three days. The arguments of our doctors upon this point are twofold.-First, God says, in the Koran, "Slay the unbelievers," without any reserve of a delay of three days being granted to them: and the prophet has also said "Slay the man who changes his religion," without mentioning anything concerming a delay: secondly, an apostate is an infidel enemy, who has received a call to the faith, wherefore he may be slain upon the instant, without any delay. An apostate is termed on this occasion an infidel enemy, because he is undoubtedly such; and he is not protected, since he has not required a protection; neither is he a Zimmee [Dhimmi], because capitation-tax has not been accepted from him; hence it is proved that he is an infidel enemy. It is to be observed

that, in these rules, there is no difference made between an apostate who is a freeman, and one who is a slave, as the arguments upon which they are established apply equally to both descriptions.

The repentance of an apostate is sufficiently manifested in his formally renouncing all religions except the religion of Islam, because apostates are not a sect: or if he formally renounce the religion which he embraced upon his apostasy, it suffices, since thus the end is obtained.

If any person kill an apostate, before an exposition of the faith has been laid open to him, it is abominable, (that is, it is laudable to let him continue unmolested). Nothing however, is incurred by the slayer; because the infidelity of an alien renders the killing of him admissible; and an exposition of the faith, after a call to the faith, is not necessary.

If a Mussulman woman become an apostate, she is not put to death, but is imprisoned, until she returns to the faith. Shafi'i maintains that she is to be put to death; because of the tradition before cited; and also, because, as men are put to death for apostasy solely for this reason, that it is a crime of great magnitude, and therefore requires that its punishment be proportionally severe, (namely, death), so the apostasy of a woman being likewise (like that of a man) a crime of great magnitude, it follows that her punishment should be the same as that of a man. The arguments of our doctors upon this point are twofold.

First, the prophet has forbidden the slaying of women, without making any distinction between those who are apostates, and those who are original infidels. Secondly, the original principle in the retribution of offences is to delay it to a future state, (in other words, not to inflict punishment here, but to refer it to hereafter), since if retribution were executed in this world, it would render defective the state of trial, as men would avoid committing sin from apprehension of punishment, and therefore would be in the state of persons acting under compulsion, and not of free agents: but in the case of apostasy of men the punishment is not deferred to a future state, because it is indispensably requisite to repel their present wickedness, (namely, their becoming enemies to the faith), which wickedness cannot be conceived of women, who are, by natural weakness of frame, incapable thereof: contrary to men.

A female apostate, therefore, is the same as an original female infidel; and as the killing of the one is forbidden, so is the killing of the other also. She is however, to be imprisoned, until she returns to the faith; because, as she refuses the right of God after having acknowledged it, she must be compelled, by means of imprisonment, to render God his right, in the same manner as she would be imprisoned on account of the right of the individual. It is written in the Jama Sagheer,-"A female apostate is to be compelled to return to the faith, whether she be free, or a slave"-The slave is to be compelled by her master;-she is to be compelled, for the reasons already recited; and this compulsion is to be executed by her master, because in this a regard is had to the right both of God and of the master. It is elsewhere mentioned that a female apostate must be daily beaten with severity until she return to the faith.21


Al-Shafil? (d. 820 c.E.), who was considered a moderate in most of his positions, taught in Iraq and then in Egypt. The adherents of his school are to be found in Indonesia, Lower Egypt, Malaysia, and Yemen. He placed great stress on the sunna of the Prophet, as embodied in the hadith, as a source of the Sharma.

We shall quote from the celebrated Minhaj al-talihin a manual of Shafi'i law compiled by al-Nawawi (1233-1277 c.E.):

Apostasy consists in the abjuration of Islam, either mentally, or by words, or by acts incompatible with faith. As to oral abjuration, it matters little whether the words are said in joke, or through a spirit of contradiction, or in good faith. But before such words can be considered as a sign of apostasy they must contain a precise declaration:

(1) That one does not believe in the existence of the Creator, or of His apostles; or

(2) That Muhammad, or one of the other apostles, is an imposter; or

(3) That one considers lawful what is strictly forbidden by the ijmd’, e.g.,

the crime of fornication; or (4) That one considers to be forbidden what is lawful according to the ijmd’.

(5) That one is not obliged to follow the precepts of the ijmd°, as well positive as negative; or

(6) That one intends shortly to change one's religion; Or that one has doubts upon the subject of the truth of Islam, etc.

As to acts, these are not considered to be incompatible with faith, unless they show a clear indication of a mockery or denial of religion, as, e.g., throwing the Koran upon a muck heap or prostrating oneself before an idol, or worshipping the sun. No account is taken of the apostasy of a minor or a lunatic, nor of acts committed under violent compulsion. Even where the guilty person, after pronouncing the words or committing the acts, becomes mad, he may not be put to death until he has recovered his sanity. This favour, however, does not, according to our school, extend to the case of drunken-ness. Apostasy, and a dec laration of having returned from one's errors, pronounced by a drunken person, have the ordinary legal consequences.

Witnesses need not recount in all their details the facts that constitute apostasy; they may confine themselves to affirming that the guilty person is an apostate. Other authorities are of the contrary opinion; but the majority go so far as to make no account of the mere denial of the accused, even where the assertions of the witnesses are made in general terms. But where, on the other hand, the accused declares that he acted under compulsion, and the circumstances render this assertion plausible, e.g., if he has been kept a prisoner by infidels, he has a presumption in his favour, provided he takes an oath; but this presumption does not arise in the absence of such circumstances. Only where the two witnesses required by law do not declare that ‘the accused is apostate,’ but that “the words pronounced by him are words implying apostasy,’ and the accused then maintain that he only pronounced them under compulsion, the presumption is in his favour, and it is not necessary for him to give more detailed explanations. Where, after the death of an individual whose faith has never been suspected, one of his sons who are both Muslims declares

that his father abjured Islam and died impenitent, and adds the cause of the apostasy, this son alone is excluded from the succession, and his portion escheats to the State as a tax; but his deposition has no effect upon the rights of his coinheritors. The same rule applies also where the cause of the crime is not mentioned and the son limits himself to saying that his father died apostate.

An attempt should be made to induce the apostate to return from his or her errors, though according to one authority this is only a commendable proceeding. The exhortation should take place immediately, or, according to one jurist, in the first three days; and if it is of no effect, the guilty man or woman should be put to death. Where, on the contrary, the guilty party returns from his or her errors, this conversion must be accepted as sincere, and the converted person left alone; unless, according to some authorities, he has embraced an occult religion such as the Zend, whose adherents, while professing Islam, are none the less infidels in their heart, or some doctrine admitting of a mystic or allegorical interpretation of the Koran.

The child of an apostate remains a Muslim, without regard to the time of its conception, or to one of its parents remaining a Muslim or not. One authority, however, considers the child whose father and mother have abjured the faith to be an apostate, while another considers such a child to be by origin an infidel. (The child should be considered as an apostate. This is what the jurists of Iraq have handed down to us as the universally accepted theory.)

As to the ownership of the property of an apostate dead in impenitence, it remains in suspense, i.e., the law considers it as lost from the moment of abjuration of the faith; but in case of repentance it is considered never to have been lost. However, there are several other theories upon the subject, though all authorities agree that debts contracted before apostasy, as well as the personal maintenance of the apostate during the period of exhortation, are Charges upon the estate. It is the same with any damages due in consequence of pecuniary prejudice caused to other persons, the maintenance of his wives, whose marriage remains in suspense, and the maintenance of his descendant or descendants. Where it is admitted that ownership remains in suspense, the same principle

must be applied to dispositions subsequent to apostasy, in so far as they are capable of being suspended, such an enfranchisement by will, and legacies, which all remain intact where the exhortation is successful, though not otherwise. On the other hand, dispositions which, by their very nature, do not admit of such suspension, such as sale, pledging, gift, and enfranchisement by contract, are null and void ab initio, though Shafi°i, in his first period, wished to leave them in suspense. All authorities, however, are agreed that an apostate's property may in no case be left at his disposition, but must be deposited in charge of some person of irreproachable character. But a female slave may not be so entrusted to a man; she must be entrusted to some trustworthy woman. An apostate's property must be leased out, and it is to the court that his Slave undergoing enfranchisement by contract should make _ his periodical payments.24

A Sunni Muslim Pronouncement on Apostasy from Lebanon25

Several years ago a Lebanese family in Germany requested official information from the Office of the Muftu2b in Lebanon regarding the law of apostasy in Islam. The translation of the response is as follows:

In the Name of the Merciful and Compassionate Allah, Dar al-Fatwa in the Republic of Lebanon, Beirut. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe; blessings and peace be upon our Master Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, and upon his Family, his Companions, his Followers and those who have found the way through him.

A question has come: "What is the stand of the Islamic Law regarding the Muslim who has renounced Islam and embraced another religion'?" The answer is, with Allah's help: Etymologically, raddah (renouncing) means to go back on a thing to something else. As far as religious law is concermed, it means the severing of the continuity of Islam. The murtadd (apostate) is the one who has renounced Islam. The state of raddah (apostasy), should it continue and he die in it, will nullify the value of his work. Such a person will have died outside Islam. This is based on the saying of the Exalted One (i.e., Allah, in the Qur'an): "Those who among you renounce their religion and die as unbelievers, their works would have failed them."

The loss of the merit of one's works is linked to two conditions: apostasy, and dying in the state of apostasy. These two conditions are necessary and are not the same. Should the apostate renounce his apostasy and return to Islam, his status would be valid as long as he gave these two testimonies:

"I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah."

(The second testimony) should be a clear declaration that he is free from every religion which is contrary to Islam; that he no longer adheres to the faith which had caused him to apostatize; that he is not innocent from the transgression he fell into on account of his apostasy.

The person who renounces his apostasy is not obliged to repeat the performance of everything he had accomplished prior to his apostasy (i.e., while he was still a practicing Muslim), such as the hajj (pilgrimage) and the prayers. His works will no longer be counted as having failed him, now that he has returned to Islam. But he must perform all that he has missed during the raddah and the period leading up to it. For he is still under obligation, (even) while he was in the state of apostasy, to perform all that is required of a Muslim.

Now, should the apostate (male or female) persist in his apostasy, he should be given the opportunity to repent, prior to his being put to death, out of respect for his Islam. A misunderstanding on his part may have taken place, and there would thus be an opportunity to rectify it. Often apostasy takes place on account of an offer (of inducement). So Islam must be presented to the apostate, things should be clarified, and his sin made manifest. He should be imprisoned for three days, so that he may have the opportunity to reflect upon his situation. This three-day period has been deemed adequate. But if the man or the woman has not repented of his or her raddah, but has continued to persist in it, then he or she should be put to death. (This is in harmony with) Muhammad's saying, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him: "Kill him who changes his religion," as related by the Hadith authority al-Bukhari (in his Hadith collection). He who executes the apostate is the imam (ruler or leader in Islam) or, with his permission, his deputy. When a person

deserves capital punishment, in accordance with the will of Allah, the carrying out of the penalty is left to the imam or the one he has authorized. But if some person, other than the imam or his deputy, has not abided by this rule and executed the apostate, that person should be punished because he has usurped the function of the imam. This punishment is not specifically described. It is left to the judge to decide the amount of the punishment in order that it will keep people from usurping the role of the imam.

An apostate may not be buried in the cemetery of the Muslims. since by his apostasy he has departed from them.

According to Imam Abu Hanifa, may the mercy of Allah be upon him, the female apostate should not be put to death, but must be imprisoned until she islamizes. Reference is then made to Khatib al-Sharbini, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, and other authorities. Allah knows best. May Allah bless our Master Muhammad, his Family and his Companions. Thanks be to God, the Lord of the universe.

Beirut, the 14th of Rabi’ al-Thani in the year 1410 A.H. 13 November 1989.

Signed: Signed: Deputy to the Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon

A Shf'a Muslim Pronouncement on Apostasv27

The following Shia pronouncement on apostasy in Islam appeared in the ultraconservative Tehran daily Kayhan International, March 1986.


In Islam, apostasy is a flagrant sin and guilt for which certain punishments have been specified in figh (Islamic law). Apostasy means to renounce the religion or a religious principle after accepting it. In other words, one's departure from

Islam to atheism is called apostasy.

A person who abandons Islam and adopts atheism is called an apostate. There are special laws concerning apostates in the Islamic figh. In this lesson, we will be familiarized with them. With regard to the above-mentioned points, we will continue to discuss the issue of apostasy and apostates in the following parts: (There follows an outline.)

1. Types of apostasy: As it was mentioned, apostasy means to return from Islam to atheism and polytheism. That is why it can also be called "reaction." Therefore, from the standpoint of Islam and the Islamic figh, reaction is to actually give up Tawhid (monotheism) and return to atheism and polytheism. Reaction is to abandon monotheism and take up paganism, idolatry, and materialism. Reaction is to return from faith and knowledge to ignorance. Therefore, the exact examples of reaction in the current world, especially Muslim-inhabited regions, are apostate materialists, Marxists, and polytheistic capitalists and Zionists who have abandoned Tawhid and resorted to Trinity and racism. Heretical groups in the Muslim world, such as Ba'athists and the likes of them are reactionary and apostate. Because by denying the genuineness of Islam, or many of its rules, they