Jazakallah khair and may Allah reward you for your question regarding those who become "murtid" (apostate from Islam):
Your letter has caused me to finally sit down and prepare a complete written response this subject and it gives me the opportunity to also include this reply in our discussion boards on the Internet. I pray for you and ask Allah to reward you every time someone reads this and takes benefit from it, ameen. Please write back and let me know if the following research and presentation is of any benefit for you and for those whom you are sharing about Islam.
You probably are aware I was once a Christian music minister and preacher, coming to Islam while trying to "convert" a Muslim from
(full story on our website at: http://islamalways.com/yusuf )
As you must imagine, I had some very serious concerns over this very same question, before accepting to leave Christianity for Islam. After all, I didn't think anyone would kill me for doing so. It was only in the last few years I learned there is killing going on in some countries over the issue of family members and others converting to other religions. Yes! - even in these days!
I had discussed this issue of apostasy in great depth many times, even before making up my mind to leave almost 50 years of Christianity to become a Muslim. After all I thought, what if I would like to change my mind and go back to being a Christian or make some other choice along the way; what would the Muslims do to me then? So you are most correct to ask this and we will try our best to provide the answer from historical evidences of Islam.
But before we begin, I would like to observe your particular question because it is not a general question. It deals with a specific occurrence in a particular place in certain circumstances, which I would like to come back to in a brief moment.
Also there is something not correct in the question. The man did not recently convert. He was already a Christian even before the Taliban. I do not know all of the circumstances, but I have been informed by some of the actual people from Afghanistan the man in question (I think his name is Abdur Rahman or something similar) had been Christian for a long number of years and this incident was really based on something else, but what, I don't know.
The story presented in the news media these days is one of about an Afghani man who has been a Christian for over 16 years. This means he was a Christian throughout the entire time the Taliban were running the country there and obviously no one did anything to him throughout this time. Only now, with the western backed regime in place, are we hearing about this "problem." It does make a person wonder what is really going on there.
Nevertheless, we will discuss the subject of how Islam views the one who leaves Islam, if God Wills (inshallah).
To begin, there is not a hard and fast rule concerning this subject because there are perhaps as many reasons why people do what they do as there are people in the world. The answer must be based on each individual situation, as it depends largely on the person, his or her knowledge, intention and understanding as well as the conditions surrounding the circumstances.
Before we can begin, to be fair to those not familiar with Islamic terms and words, we must start by explaining to both Muslims and the non-Muslims alike, who might be wondering about the answer to such a question, what Islam is really all about and set the stage for them to better understand the actual ramifications of entering and/or leaving Islam.
First, they have to understand what all of the relevant Arabic words and terms actually mean. You should explain exactly what "ISLAM" means and what is: Tawhid (monotheism); Ibadah (worship); Shar'iah (God's Commandments in Islamic Law); Fatwah (Islamic Judge's findings in Law and their subsequent rulings); Hudud (punishment); Murtid (apostasy). It is important for anyone desiring to understand Islam's position on any subject, especially in such matters as this, to gain a firm grip on the importance of words being used and their meanings regarding the issues at hand.
Hudud (punishment) The punishments to be initiated by those in authority according to Shar'iah as ordered according to appropriate fatawah (plural of fatwah).
Murtid (apostasy) a Muslim who makes the choice to leave Islam (submission to God's Will).
Next let them know, no one is ever forced or coerced into accepting Islam. This always was and always will be a matter of choice left up to the individual. Muslims are not ordered to "convert" people to Islam. Rather, they are ordered to deliver the message of Islam to others through their own righteous living as an example and in respectful "reminding" as taught in the Quran.
Islam (willful submission) to Allah's Shar'iah (God's Commandments in Islamic Law) and is the very balance needed for all humans for all times and in all places (according the teachings of Islam). The
There is never to be forced conversion to Islam (if it were forced, then the word "Islam" would not really apply anyway), and it is forbidden according to the Quran, in the second chapter, verse 256: "Let there be no complusion in the religion ("deen": actually means way of life as opposed to "religion"). From this we understand no one can be made to believe anything by force. Rather, it must be by their own decision.
Now be sure they understand the difference between "Islam" and "Muslims", meaning: "Islam" is perfect, but we as humans (Muslims) are not. Therefore, we can and do make mistakes. This lets us know immediately if anyone is calling for something in the name of "Islam" or the "Shar'iah", this should be viewed in the evidence of the Shar'iah itself and not just what some jurist or scholar may conclude.
Finally, judges and scholars over the centuries have held different opinions and given various rulings based on all of the above. No one can make a blanket statement and say the same rule applies to all people in all situations.
Let us review some of the evidences starting at the time of our prophet, peace be upon him.
Even during the time of our prophet, peace be upon him, there were some who "left Islam" and then they were allowed to come back if they wanted to or stay away if they so desired. One example is from the Muslims who migrated in the first migration to Ethiopia and one of them left Islam, became a Christian (the people of Abyssinia were Christians at that time) and then even told people there he was an "author" of the Quran. Of course such actions are most despicable and worthy of some kind of reprimand, especially considering the extent of the lies against the Quran and the prophet, peace be upon him. Yet, nothing was done to this man by the Muslims. His wife, Zainab, could not tolerate his lies and his turning his back against the truth of Islam and she returned back to the Muslims in
Other examples include those who entered Islam in the presence of our beloved prophet, peace be upon him, yet when they were returned back to their people (during an agreement between the pagans and Muhammad, peace be upon him) some of them reverted back to their old pagan religion. Some of them did come back to Islam again later on after Islam came to be the governing state. In this case we observe what can happen in the case of the one who is in Islam and then for whatever reason decides not to stay.
Yet another example that occurred at the time of our blessed prophet, peace be upon him, was that of some who pretended they wanted to be Muslims only to take advantage of the believers, gain some worldly benefits and then abused and slaughtered an entire group of shepherds that memorized the entire Quran, who were caring for them. They killed them in cold blood and took everything for themselves. The prophet, peace be upon him, was very disturbed over this and ordered them to be severely punished and left to die without any food or water. From this example we learn how to deal with traitors and terrorists who have no intention of doing anything except evil and spreading fitnah (evil and terror) throughout the land.
Over the centuries since the inception of Islam, we can find cases of people leaving Islam and what was their example and what the pervailing jurists decided in their particular situation. Most all of these were not punished except in the cases of treason, other acts of viloence or for propagating corruption, dissention and promoting evil along with their apostasy. Those who were found to be causing sedition or of being enemy spies during times of war or advocating the overthrow of Islamic government could understandably be courtmartialed and executed.
Now let us breifly compare the treatment of conversion and apostasy with other civilizations and societies over the centuries.
The Roman civilization would not tolerate someone who accepted the benefits of citizenship and the turned against the government. These people were made short work of as entertainment for the people, while gladiators tortured and killed them for public sport. (see: Encyclopedia Britanitca;
It may benefit us to take into consideration Judaism and Christianity to better understand the difference between what is being taught as the religion and what some people do. The Book of Genesis in the Torah (Old Testament) tells of an incident referred to by Scholars such as Rabbi Allison Bergman Vann, as the "Rape of Dinah." (note#3 & #4 below)
It is easy to conclude the offer of circumcizing and coming to their religion was only a trick to defeat the men while they were in such pain and suffering (keep in mind, in those days there were no clinics or even sterile conditions for such operations).
Another reference to "conversion and apostasy" regarding Jews during the years after Jesus, peace be upon him, occurred in the south of
(note #5 below)
The Catholic Church at one time forced people to enter into their religion at the point of the sword and with torture chambers (see: Crusades, 1095 to 1200 A.D.; and Inquisition, 1492 to 1520 A.D.) Those who wished to remain or change to Islam or Judaism or even another form of Christianity were put to the most vile of tortures and even executed. However, this cannot be said to in any way, represent the teachings of Jesus or the New Testament.
Now let us consider the realities of balance in Islam in light of today's world:
There is no existing Islamic state with a khilafah. This means the hudud (punishment according to Islam) of the Shar'iah (Islamic Law) cannot be appropritely applied. Additionally, anyone not being a citizen living in an Islamic state could hardly be tried and convicted by the state in a proper manner.
(note #6 below)
Some would claim the Protestants are not the same as the Catholics. Read what the first real "protestant," Martin Lurther, had to say about this (taken from Jamal Udeen Zaraboza's article).
Let us consider the follow example for comparison:
There is a person living in Russia decides he wants to become a citizen of the United States and goes to the United States Embassy and begins the procedure of immagration and naturalization. Later on he changes his mind, doesn't like things the
Now he cancels his immagration process. This would could lessen his chances of getting citizenship in the future but would not bring about retaliation against him from the
Then, if he begins to publicly speak out against the US policy and puts up websites, sends out emails makes speeches calling for acts of violence against America, he definitely is going to have a problem ever getting a chance a citizenship later if he should change his mind and like to become an American.
Next, he goes so far as to actually recruit people and train them at some paintball place while telling them they are preparing to attack America.
Question: Is he going to be listed as a terrorist and enemy to
What about those who joined him for paintball practice and listened to his talks? Would they be listed along with him, as terrorists?
Would they be tortured (in some other country) and then spend the rest of their lives in prison?
! After all, they are enemies to the state and should be treated as such. Right?
To conclude, Islam comes from Allah, the actual Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Islam provides for all situations and dictates what are the rights and limitations. This all seeks to provide a safe enviornment for all people to learn the correct message of Almighty Allah and how to live as upright citizens in a place of pleace and mutual cooperation for all humans, regardless of their beliefs.
If a person wants to accept this belief and way of life, then they should be free to do so. If another person would reject this even though the evidence is clearly in favor of Islam, they are free to make this choice but would live in the society still receiving the benefits and services available, such as food, shelter, clothing, protection and charity. However, they would pay a larger tax on their wealth due to their not being conscripted to serve in the military and so on.
Conditions are really what bring about the different rulings on dealing with those who enter Islam and then leave it, with the clear intention of bringing about descention and unrest amongst the people. Also, those who seek to convert people away from Islam into other faiths or to destroy the Islamic government would naturally be considered as traitors and then dealt with as such.
All knowledge is with Allah and for any mistakes I seek Allah's forgiveness and beg the pardon of anyone whom I may have offended in this writing.
Again, may Allah reward you for your effort and accept from you and all of us, ameen.
PS - Please include this link in the bottom of all your emails (and include this request for others to do the same, inshallah) - http://islamalways.com/muhammad