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Islamic Ideology (03 Jan 2014 NewAgeIslam.Com)

On Apostasy and Islam: 100+ Notable Islamic Voices affirming the Freedom of Faith - Part 7


" ... Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error ..." [2:256]

By Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq

April 2, 2007

91.     Mustafa Akyol

[a Turkish Muslim writer]

"In the early Muslim state, apostasy became regarded as a crime because it was seen as a rebellion against the state. In other words, the real consideration was political and, by time, this turned into a religious rule as well. This is, of course, a deviation we Muslims should rid ourselves today." [Symposium: Convert or Die]

92.     Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

[Youngest national mufti, Malaysia]

Islamic leaders must squarely address the questions of apostates and other challenges, and not further damage the Muslim community by their own failure to live up to religious values. ...

Asked to comment on tensions raised by the issue of apostasy, Asri said religious leaders were culpable because they divert focus from the reasons that lead Muslims to apostasise. Instead, they issued threats of punitive measures against apostates and non-Muslim supporters. [Malaysia: Nation's youngest mufti speaks out on apostasy]

93.     Ibrahim Hooper

[National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations]

"Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. That position is supported by the Quran, Islam's revealed text, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad and the opinions of Islamic scholars both past and present. ... Islamic scholars say the original rulings on apostasy were similar to those for treasonous acts in legal systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual's choice of religion. ... Freedom from coercion also implies freedom to practice another faith. ... Religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. Faith imposed by force is not true belief. [Islam and religious freedom]

94.     Ahmad Faiz bin Abdul Rahman

[Researcher with the Institute of Islamic Understanding, Malaysia (IKIM) and a Pro-temp Committee Member of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)]

One of the manifestations of personal liberty is the freedom of the individual to profess the religion of his or her choice without compulsion. ... Freedom of religion under Islam would therefore imply that non-Muslims are not compelled to convert to Islam, nor are they hindered from practicing their own religious rites. However, many tend to forget or take for grant that this also applies to Muslims, in that they are not to be compelled or be put under undue influence so as to become apostates. In other words, both Muslims and non-Muslims are entitled to propagate the religion of their following, as well as to defend it against attacks or seditious provocation, regardless of whether such an action is launched by their co-religionists or by others." [Malaysian Laws on Apostasy Inadequate]

95.     Mirza A. Beg

[Geologist and columnist; US]

“The Quran has many references to apostasy. It does not call for a temporal punishment; it specifically reserves the judgment for God. On the contrary there are many verses that clearly prohibit compulsion in religion … It is important and valid to oppose all the encroachments by others on the Muslim lands and Islam, but it is suicidal to use it as an excuse to cover the festering wound intolerance. The more grievous fault is lies within.” [Apostasy Laws – An Injury To Islam By Muslims]

96.     Iman al-Qahtani

[Saudi journalist. She is also an author and activist in Saudi Arabia]

"There is no basis for executing an apostate in Islam. It is nothing more than an invention by narrow-minded men who accuse everyone in disagreement with them of apostasy." [I don't believe it]

97.     Dr. Sohirin Solihin

[Pofessor of Qur'ranic studies, International Islamic University, Malaysia]

... The Koran forbids Muslims to abandon their faith, but it doesn't specify the penalties ... [Losing Faith in Malaysia]

98.     Imam Kamara AbdilHaqq Muhammad

[Islamic Teacher and Associate Imam at ADAMS Centre of Northern Va., USA]

"Of the many things we try to remember, we must remember this clear fact: Allah is not in need of anyone or anything in His creation.' Therefore it is neither a loss to Him nor a strain to Him if any of the Children of 'Aadam turn away from His established agenda of Al-Islam. 'Laa 'Ikraha Fid Diin' means exactly what it says: 'No compulsion in the Diin (religion). Allah has not made it compulsory that we must worship and pray to Him, rather He has allowed us to make that choice with our free wills that He so kindly gave us. I have found that the less educated people are in the Qur’an and social life, the harder they are on others. "The Prophet never punished those around him who sometimes said Shahadah in the morning and change to something else in the evening.

When any among the Children of 'Aadam choose in their own heart to submit their will to Allah it is their gain and blessing, likewise when any among the Children of 'Aadam elect to reject to submit their will to Allah it is their own loss and their loss only. Be patient in all matters and we get the best outcome."

99.     Asim Siddiqui

[Chairman of the City Circle, a network body of mainly young Muslim professionals; UK]

"To argue for capital punishment for apostasy goes against the very principles of Islam." [Freedom of conscience in Islam]

100.   Sherazad Hamit

[Student, Macalester College]

“ … the sentencing to death of apostates goes against Qur’anic decrees on apostasy, and is therefore un-Islamic, given the context of the apostate in question. …” [Apostasy and the Notion of Religious Freedom in Islam]

101.   Organization: Sisters in Islam

[Sisters in Islam (SIS) is an independent non-governmental organisation, formed in 1988, which believes in an Islam that upholds the principles of equality, justice, freedom and dignity]

“Based on these three reasons and the Qur'anic principle of freedom of religion, prominent Ulema from the seventh to the twentieth centuries have come out with the position that there can be no death penalty for apostasy. According to Professor Hashim Kamali in his award-winning book, Freedom of Expression in Islam, two leading jurists of the generation succeeding the Companions, Ibrahim al-Naka'I and Sufyan al-Thawri, both held that the apostate should be re-invited to Islam, but should never be condemned to death. The renowned Hanafi jurist, Shams al-Din al-Sarakhsi wrote that even though renunciation of faith is the greatest of offences, it is a matter between man and his Creator, and its punishment is postponed to the Day of Judgement. The Maliki jurist Abul Walid al-Baji and the renowned Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyyah have both held that apostasy is a sin which carries no Had punishment. …Those in the vanguard of the Islamic movement that wants to turn this country into an Islamic state must ask themselves, why would Malaysians support the concept of an Islamic state which assert different rights for Muslim men, Muslim women and non-Muslims and minorities, rather than equal rights for all? Why would those whose equal status and rights are recognised by a democratic system support the creation of such an Islamic state? If an Islamic state means a dictatorial theocratic political system that condemns those who question or challenge its authority as apostates or deviants, and then impose the death penalty on them, then why would those whose fundamental liberties are protected by a democratic state support such an intolerant concept of an Islamic state?” [Islam, Apostasy and PAS]

102.   Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

[Lecturer at the Centre for Islamic Thought and Understanding at Mara University of Technology; Bachelor of Shari’a, University of Malaya; PhD, University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies].

"The notion of the right to freedom of religion is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Islam. ... However, most of the classical Muslim jurists’ writings, apparently, did not articulate the subject. ... The subject of the rights of the individual especially in relation to the right to freedom of religion seems lacking in most Islamic fiqh books. Indeed, the majority of classical Muslim jurists think that the right to freedom of religion is not applicable to Muslims. Muslims who leave the Islamic faith or who have apostatised should be condemned and put to death. In reality, punishment of apostasy has not been prescribed by the Qur’ān and had never been practised by the Prophet (S.A.W.). The Muslim jurists have been confused with such punishment, considering that all apostates must be put to death after they refused to repent. The fact was that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had proclaimed a death penalty upon apostates because their acts were contemptuous and hostile towards Islam. Muslims who merely renounced the Islamic religion were only required to undergo a process of tauba (repentance)." [Abstract: Punishment for Apostasy: Conflict between criminal sentence and the right to freedom of religion, p. 32]

103.   Mike Mohamed Ghouse

[Founder, World Muslim Congress; Founder, Foundation for Pluralism; Dallas, Texas]

"We, the Muslims request you to honor the life given by Allah to Abdul Rahman and grant him his freedom to practice his faith. Lakum Dinukum Waliya Deen.To him his faith is dear, as our faith is to us." [American Muslims' Plea to Afghan Judges In the case of Apostate Abdul Rahman]

104.   Haris Aziz

[PhD candidate and professional journalist at Warwick University]

“The Quran talks about apostasy at least twenty times but does not mention any worldly punishment. The only warning given is about the consequence in the life here after. Moreover there is a good possibility that the referred Ahadith have a specific context of Hirabah [high treason], breaking away from the authority, breaking a treaty, defying the direct commands of a living prophet in violent times and incitement to wage war against Muslims when the very survival of a small Muslim community was in danger. Many celebrated jurists have alluded to this kind of Takhsis [specification] to conclude that an apostate should be re-invited to Islam but not condemned to death. It is critical that the Ulema [scholars] address this issue. Moreover if some Muslim country does not allow non-Muslims to observe their religion freely, it is totally against Islamic principles of justice and fair play and should be tackled.” [Affirmation of Freedom of Expression and Belief in the Quran]

105.   Shah Abdul Halim

[Chairman of Islamic Information Bureau, Bangladesh]

“In fact there is not a single instance that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did treat apostasy as a prescribed offence under hudud (capital punishment) only for leaving Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) never put anyone to death for apostasy alone rather he let such person go unharmed. No one was sentenced to death solely for renunciation of faith unless accompanied by hostility and treason or was linked to an act of political betrayal of the community. As a matter of fact the Quran is completely silent on the question of death as a punishment for apostasy. Apostasy does not qualify for temporal punishment.” [Islam & Pluralism: A Contemporary Approach]

106.   Imam Ahmad Sa'd

[Ex-Imam of Calgary Muslim Community, Alberta, Canada and now Imam in Ar-Rahma Mosque, Egypt.]

"A close study of the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), which serves as an example for all Muslims to learn how to practice Islam and carry out its injunctions, will show us that he never killed people who changed their religion or left Islam, for the reason of their leaving Islam.

In incidents when the Prophet commended the killing of some people, it was because they had committed an offense to the Muslim community, threatening its safety, or because they had killed someone and were killed themselves in retaliation. Therefore, killing them had nothing to do with their apostasy.

In fact, many Islamic scholars support the view that there is no prescribed punishment (Hadd) for apostasy. In doing this, they use both reason and strong evidence from Qur'an and Sunnah." [Should an Apostate Be Killed?]

107.   Kashif Ahmed Shehzada

[Researcher on the Qur'an and comparative religion; Karachi, Pakistan]

"The question of forcing someone to believe does not arise at all, because the Qur'an identifies 'Iman' i.e. belief as something not just professed by the lips, but something which has entered one's heart deeply, and that is possible only if a person analyses the message through his reason and accepts it willingly. ... The Qur'an proclaims that man has the freedom of choice to accept or reject the permanent values of God. He CANNOT be forced to accept those values, but has the free will to accept them, ... Had the punishment for Apostasy been prescribed as 'Death' then the above verse (3:89) would not have accommodated the room for amending one's conduct and repentance, but with the inclusion of a condition of repentance and amending one's conduct, the Qur'an confirms that for Apostates the punishment is not death." [Can People be Forced to Accept Islam? A Qur’anic Perspective]

URL of Part 5: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/on-apostasy-and-islam--100--notable-islamic-voices-affirming-the-freedom-of-faith---part-6/d/35064

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/dr-mohammad-omar-farooq/on-apostasy-and-islam--100--notable-islamic-voices-affirming-the-freedom-of-faith---part-7/d/35110



  • Observer
    i have spoken my mind in the comment to mr Ghulam M. There is no God and hence no divine guidance in the forms of holy books and prophets.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 1/6/2014 9:29:51 PM

  • Dear Satwa Gunam,

    You hit right at the head of the nail in your statement: "there is a crowd which insist of not thinking and parroting what was perceived few centuries before without knowing the context of such saying."

    The peremptory style of the Qur'an is captured in in my jt. publication as follows, that you may skip for its exegetic nature but others may read, though you may also read if you can give it the attention that any scripture deserves:

    Ch. 2.5." The Transformative human language of the Qur’an"Some of the Qur’anic verses regard the manifestations of nature as well as the day-to-day happenings of life as totally dependent on God’s Will or Command. Any simplistic comprehension of such verses, typified below could lead to confusion and misinterpretation.“…He sends down mountain-masses (of clouds) from the sky with hail in them, and He strikes with it anyone He wills and turns it away from anyone He wills…” (24:43).

     “...God leaves straying anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills...” (14:4, 74:31).

     “…God multiplies things for anyone He wills…” (2:261)."These stipulations seemingly suggest that man need not make any effort to do anything on his own, as everything depends on God’s Will. But such an interpretation is totally out of line with the following Qur’anic assertions appearing in two of its verses: “… God does not change the favor which He has bestowed on a people, unless they change themselves*…” (8:53). “… God does not change the condition of a people, unless they change themselves*…” (13:11).*[Lit., ‘change that which is in themselves.’]"These Qur’anic assertions point to both a divine law of cause and effect and to the fundamental premise of man’s free will to choosing the right path out of the “two highways shown to him” (90:10/Ch.17.1)."The truth remains, God is above any comparison with any of His creations. Therefore, as Ali al-Tantawi explains, human attributes, such as ‘will’, ‘wish’, etc. when employed to express God’s Might and Power, cannot be interpreted to mean the same as when used in the context of human beings. 5
    Your question why they are discussing today may be found in the following concluding remark of my article referenced below (too exegetic for you):
    "Finally, a parting message is due to the Muslim modern Muslims counterparts of the hypocrites and believing nomadic Arabs, intense in kufr, of the Prophet’s era. They must understand, it is too late in history to dislodge Islam from its spiritual bastion. As there is no compulsion in religion all those skeptical of the divinity of the Qur’an must feel free to exit Islam, rather than create division and disorder within its ranks or conspire against it with the non-Muslims bent on trivializing the Qur’an and maligning the Prophet. No wonder the Qur’an referred to them as rijz (abomination) (9:95) like the pagan Arabs (9:28)."

    The Radical Intelligentsia of Islam and Its Orthodox Ulema Are the ‘Hypocrites’ and ‘Nomadic Arabs Intense In Kufr’ Of This Era: They Are Its Twin Internal Enemies, and Must Be Resisted


    In one word, a faction of Muslim intellectuals are bent on proving the Qur'an to be a forged book and the Prophet an imposter. On my involvement with this site for over two years I have found this category of commentators most enthusiastic in their passion to gutter the Qur'an. This led to my framing of the above article at the strength of the Qur'an that offers a wide window into the minds of such commentators and answers your question as to why some Muslims scholars go on quoting from the Qur'an and raising questions endlessly without knowing the context. Imagine you pick bits and pieces from the Bible. You will have no dearth of questions if you take each of its statements literally.
    So, how can a community advance if its self acclaimed rationals and intellectuals remain blind to historical relativism, a flaw I have noticed in many intellectuals, though of course I am wrong in assessing others.   
    By muhammad yunus - 1/4/2014 6:28:29 AM

  • Interesting blogging of choice being spoken by guys who have not moved away from 700 ad.

    I think god has better to work to do rather than taking care of every movement in the world. Probably that is the reason he gave the human the power of think. 

    But there is a crowd which insist of not thinking and parroting what was perceived few centuries before without knowing the context of such saying

    By satwa gunam - 1/4/2014 4:07:07 AM

  • Rational asks, "Is not Allah behind the Guidance and misguidance?"

    But it does not say that we have been freed from the choice of seeking the right path. Instead of questioning God about what He does or does not do, let us do what is incumbent upon us to do.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/4/2014 1:21:40 AM

  • Yunus sb., Overemphasis of punitive approaches must be a relic of pre-Islamic Arab and Jewish practices. Getting Muslims to give them up is a hard task.
    Let me wish you the best of luck with the expanded edition of your book.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/4/2014 12:59:00 AM

  • Rational,
    You always talk about what others say. Why don't you speak for yourself? I am sure that you are aware that the Quran makes clear those who are guided by Allah and those who are allowed to go astray.
    Right at the beginning of the Quran you have verse 2:2 describing those who are on true guidance. 2:155 Those who patiently persevere.2:51, 52 forgives trespasses and gives a second chance 3:103 Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guide
    The ones who are on misguidance are: 2:15 those who mock the signs of Allah are given a long rope in their trespasses and allowed to go astray.  2:28 those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs (3:86) How shall Allah Guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Messenger was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? but Allah guides not a people unjust.(4:115) If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of Faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell,- what an evil refuge!(5:136) O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray.(137) 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.

    By Observer - 1/4/2014 12:00:42 AM

  • Observer
    "Verily all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, seek His help and seek His forgiveness. And we seek protection in Allah from the evil of ourselves and the evil of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides, there is no misguidance for him. And whoever He misguides, there is no guidance for him"

    this is the first part of Khutba(sermon) common to all khutbas delivered in all mosques and on other  occasions i have read and heard. *Is not Allah behind the Guidance and misguidance.? where does it say man or shaitan is responsible for misguidance?*

    when Muslim Imams and leaders deliver this khutba what they are telling the masses? How is it different from the Quran?

    By rational mohammed yunus - 1/3/2014 9:26:03 PM

  • dear muhammad yunus - 1/3/2014 6:59:41 PM
    Writings of orientalists(politically motivated) and Muslims (??) are both problematic to you. it means it is only you who is correct on understanding of the Islam.  lets us see how far your understanding goes?

    i am not wondered at all. It is bound to happen because the Quran is either not clear or not for everyone or its meaning is above the heads of human being.
    why these intellectuals you are talking about not able to grasp the true message of Islam according to you? Is God determined to do so in order to bless you and condemn others?

    By rational mohammed yunus - 1/3/2014 9:17:18 PM

  • Gholam Muhiuddin Sahab,
    It is really shocking how any Muslim can read the Qur'an to suggest any punishment for apostasy as the orthodox Islam insists.
    Islamic scholarship in this era is largely informed by oriental reading of the Qur'an which in turn is based on its politically motivated interpretation of the medieval ages. This explains how two free lancers could piece together the chapter 9.8 in our book.
    The biggest problem is the Muslims, even in America, do not make avid readers except for the stuff that goes with the fashion world, electronic/IT gadgets and concerns their daily life. This of course is natural and we cannot blame our children for this. But when their faith is on the anvil and they are collectively demonized for the gross misinterpretation of the Qur'anic message, and associated with terror, they should - at least 1% of them,  try to understand the essential of their faith.
    There are only four comments to my jt. publication - yours the latest. Why no more??
    We are working on an expanded edition and our goal is to get to the book into the higher echelon of the Western academy, the only pathway to reach it to the Muslim community - that may take time - God knows how long.
    The irony is if we were to write a book that Muhammad was an imposter and the Qur'an a forged book, even some of the rational and intellectually gifted commentators - hats off to them for their tenacity in refuting the Islamic scripture and Prophet, will call me a modern scholar, but if I write what is in the Qur'an, they take me to be an apologist and dismiss the work. Exactly the same is true of the vast majority of educated Muslims in my immediate circle.
    So, we in a battle in which the soldiers are already on enemy's side.
    May I have your comment please.
    By muhammad yunus - 1/3/2014 6:59:41 PM

  • This is an excellent collection of some very sober reflections. Hopefully it will gradually have a wide dissemination.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/3/2014 3:53:06 PM

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