Printer Friendly Version
Apostasy in Islam is often defined as the rejection of certain or all attributes (words, beliefs or deeds) of the religion of Islam by a former follower of the religion.
In many (if not most) schools of Islamic thought, this rejection is punishable by death.
There is nothing in the holy text of the Quran which prescribes death as a punishment for apostasy. Support for such a punishment is usually garnered from Islamic secondary sources.
First and foremost, there is absolutely no compulsion in religion and freedom of belief is enshrined within the Quranic text as a human right granted by God.
There will be people that believe and afterwards will disbelieve.
The matter of disbelief will be settled on the Day of Judgment and only God has the authority to punish apostates.
DEATH IS PRESCRIBED BY THE QURAN IN ONLY TWO CIRCUMSTANCES. NEITHER REFER TO APOSTASY.
Both punishments of death are to be administered by the state and not by individual authorities.
(a) For just retribution in the case of murder (for unintentional manslaughter, see 4:92)
(b) For spreading sheer corruption in the land (5:33)
If one reads from verse 12 of Chapter 5 (Surah Maeda 5:12), a discourse is initiated with the Children of Israel which continues to a point where the story of the two sons of Adam is recited to them (5:27). Most are familiar with the narrative of where one son of Adam murdered the other merely because his sacrifice was not accepted.
The narrative underscores clearly the senselessness and injustice behind the murder of one of Adam's son by the other. It was to remain the backbone narrative which underscored the maxim that 'life was to remain sacred' and was not to be taken unjustly. Two exceptions were narrated to the Children of Israel and have not been repealed by the Quran for believers. The law still stands.
There is simply no mention nor capacity from a Quran's perspective to legislate death for any other reason, in particular apostasy.
It is absolutely inconceivable for a believer in the Quran to assert that a Prophet of God who was clearly instructed to follow the revelation being inspired in him would offer contrary commandments or to reveal something in God's name.
MISUSE OF QURANIC VERSES
Isolated verses out of context are often utilised to support the death penalty for apostasy. Two oft used verses are quoted as examples.
If read in full context of the surrounding verses, the implication of the verse is clear. The 'turning back' (Tawallaw) is clearly a reference to the enmity showed by the disbelievers to fight the believers and has nothing to do with their particular world views or beliefs.
There is no mention in the above verse of the 'disbelievers' turning back in 'faith' neither in the Arabic language nor an interpretation that can be sustained given the context of the surrounding verses. The next verse, cements the context as a reference to those who would fight the believers if given the chance.
This is clearly not a reference to apostasy.
In the second example above, we note that exile is given as an alternative punishment for waging war against the Prophet as opposed to killing the perpetrators. It should be noted that even in the serious case of spreading mischief in the land, exile is still granted as an option. It would be therefore inconceivable that in the case of apostasy that the death sentence would be a befitting retribution for one’s personal beliefs.
Both examples quoted above have nothing to do with apostasy. Rather, they deal with the Quranic punishment for spreading mischief or sheer corruption in the land.
The killing of apostates as a punishment for the sole reason of one's choice of religious beliefs is not sanctioned by the Quran.
© 2010 Quransmessage.com All Rights Reserved