Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Apostasy
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All of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that the punishment for an apostate, a Muslim who renounces the faith, is death. This punishment is based on both the command and the example of the prophet and the Rashidun Caliphs.
['Islamic religion' is simply 'deen' in the arabic, as with the other versions of the same hadith]
Once 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz sat on his throne in the courtyard of his house so that the people might gather before him. Then he admitted them and (when they came in), he said, "What do you think of Al-Qasama?" They said, "We say that it is lawful to depend on Al-Qasama in Qisas, as the previous Muslim Caliphs carried out Qisas depending on it." Then he said to me, "O Abu Qilaba! What do you say about it?" He let me appear before the people and I said, "O Chief of the Believers! You have the chiefs of the army staff and the nobles of the Arabs. If fifty of them testified that a married man had committed illegal sexual intercourse in Damascus but they had not seen him (doing so), would you stone him?" He said, "No." I said, "If fifty of them testified that a man had committed theft in Hums, would you cut off his hand though they did not see him?" He replied, "No." I said, "By Allah, Allah's Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate." Then the people said, "Didn't Anas bin Malik narrate that Allah's Apostle cut off the hands of the thieves, branded their eyes and then, threw them in the sun?" I said, "I shall tell you the narration of Anas. Anas said: "Eight persons from the tribe of 'Ukl came to Allah's Apostle and gave the Pledge of allegiance for Islam (became Muslim). The climate of the place (Medina) did not suit them, so they became sick and complained about that to Allah's Apostle. He said (to them ), "Won't you go out with the shepherd of our camels and drink of the camels' milk and urine (as medicine)?" They said, "Yes." So they went out and drank the camels' milk and urine, and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of Allah's Apostle and took away all the camels. This news reached Allah's Apostle , so he sent (men) to follow their traces and they were captured and brought (to the Prophet). He then ordered to cut their hands and feet, and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, and then he threw them in the sun till they died." I said, "What can be worse than what those people did? They deserted Islam, committed murder and theft."
Then 'Anbasa bin Said said, "By Allah, I never heard a narration like this of today." I said, "O 'Anbasa! You deny my narration?" 'Anbasa said, "No, but you have related the narration in the way it should be related. By Allah, these people are in welfare as long as this Sheikh (Abu Qilaba) is among them." I added, "Indeed in this event there has been a tradition set by Allah's Apostle. The narrator added: Some Ansari people came to the Prophet and discussed some matters with him, a man from amongst them went out and was murdered. Those people went out after him, and behold, their companion was swimming in blood. They returned to Allah's Apostle and said to him, "O Allah's Apostle, we have found our companion who had talked with us and gone out before us, swimming in blood (killed)." Allah's Apostle went out and asked them, "Whom do you suspect or whom do you think has killed him?" They said, "We think that the Jews have killed him." The Prophet sent for the Jews and asked them, "Did you kill this (person)?" They replied, "No." He asked the Al-Ansars, "Do you agree that I let fifty Jews take an oath that they have not killed him?" They said, "It matters little for the Jews to kill us all and then take false oaths." He said, "Then would you like to receive the Diya after fifty of you have taken an oath (that the Jews have killed your man)?" They said, "We will not take the oath." Then the Prophet himself paid them the Diya (Blood-money)." The narrator added, "The tribe of Hudhail repudiated one of their men (for his evil conduct) in the Pre-lslamic period of Ignorance.Then, at a place called Al-Batha' (near Mecca), the man attacked a Yemenite family at night to steal from them, but a man from the family noticed him and struck him with his sword and killed him. The tribe of Hudhail came and captured the Yemenite and brought him to 'Umar during the Hajj season and said, "He has killed our companion." The Yemenite said, "But these people had repudiated him (i.e., their companion)." 'Umar said, "Let fifty persons of Hudhail swear that they had not repudiated him." So forty-nine of them took the oath and then a person belonging to them, came from Sham and they requested him to swear similarly, but he paid one-thousand Dirhams instead of taking the oath. They called another man instead of him and the new man shook hands with the brother of the deceased. Some people said, "We and those fifty men who had taken false oaths (Al-Qasama) set out, and when they reached a place called Nakhlah, it started raining so they entered a cave in the mountain, and the cave collapsed on those fifty men who took the false oath, and all of them died except the two persons who had shaken hands with each other. They escaped death but a stone fell on the leg of the brother of the deceased and broke it, whereupon he survived for one year and then died." I further said, "'Abdul Malik bin Marwan sentenced a man to death in Qisas (equality in punishment) for murder, basing his judgment on Al-Qasama, but later on he regretted that judgment and ordered that the names of the fifty persons who had taken the oath (Al-Qasama), be erased from the register, and he exiled them in Sham."
He said: They are threatening to kill me now. We said: Allah will be sufficient for you against them, Commander of the Faithful! He asked: Why kill me? I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) say: It is not lawful to kill a man who is a Muslim except for one of the three reasons: Kufr (disbelief) after accepting Islam, fornication after marriage, or wrongfully killing someone, for which he may be killed.I swear by Allah, I have not committed fornication before or after the coming of Islam, nor did I ever want another religion for me instead of my religion since Allah gave guidance to me, nor have I killed anyone. So for what reason do you want to kill me?
ابن إسحاق; ابن هشام, سيرة ابن هشام ت السقا, vol. 2, al-Maktabah al-Shamilah, p. 409, https://app.turath.io/book/23833
The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani:
A zindiq is killed and his repentance is not accepted. He is the one who conceals disbelief while making an outward display of Islam.
[ This is a hadd punishment, not for disbelief, i.e. when he repents after we have exposed him. The legal consequences are that when he is killed for a hadd, his property goes to his heirs. An example of his repentance after being exposed is that he denies the zandaqa which is proven against him. If he admits it and does not repent, his killing is not a hadd. It is disbelief and so his property is that of an apostate and his heirs do not inherit. His property goes to the Muslim treasury. If he repents, it is not accepted. It is accepted if he comes in repentance before he is exposed. Such a person was considered a hypocrite in the time of the Prophet.]
The same is true for a sorcerer. His repentance is not accepted.
[ He is killed without being asked to repent once he has been exposed. If he comes in repentance before he is exposed, then his repentance is accepted.]
An apostate is killed unless he repents. He is given three days to repent. The same ruling applies to a woman.
[ Someone who recants from Islam. Apostasy is disbelief after affirming Islam. If he does not repent, he is killed. One does not execute him immediately but repentance is offered to him. If he refuses then he is killed. It is obligatory to delay execution for three days. If he repents, there is no problem. If not, he is killed after sunset on the third day. This judgement includes men and women. A pregnant woman is deferred until she gives birth.]
[Hashiyya: The School is that he is offered Islam every day without being punished by beating or pain or made thirsty and without threats.]
37.19d. Someone who refuses to pray
If someone has not apostasised but affirms the prayer and yet says, "I will not pray," he is given a respite until the time of the next prayer. If he does not pray, he is killed.
[ "I will not pray now and will pray later" or "I will not pray at all." He is still in the daruri time in which he can pray one rak'at without considering being at rest or balance or recitation of the Fatiha. This is to protect blood as much as possible. If he rises to pray, there is no problem. Otherwise he is killed with the sword immediately.]
37.19e. Refusing to pay zakat
If someone refuses to pay zakat, it is taken from him by force.
[ Even if it leads to fighting him, and if he dies in that, his blood is of no consequence.]
37.19f. Refusing to go on hajj
If someone does not go on hajj, he is left to Allah.
[ He is not threatened by death or anything else since he may not have all the preconditions for the hajj, even if that seems so outwardly.]
37.19g. Not praying out of denial
Someone who abandons the prayer out of denial of its obligatory is like an apostate. He is asked to repent for three days. If he does not repent, he is killed.
[ The obligatory prayer. Denial means to reject its obligatory nature. Such a person is killed for disbelief and not by a hadd. Then the funeral prayer is not said for him and he is not buried in the Muslim cemetery and there is no inheritance between him and his heirs and his property goes to the Muslim treasury.]
[Hashiyya: The same applies to the one who denies the obligatory nature of zakat.]
37.19h. Insulting the Messenger of Allah
If someone curses the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, he is killed and his repentance is not accepted. If one of the people of dhimma abuses him outside of that which constitutes his disbelief or curses Allah Almighty other than what constitutes his disbelief, he is killed unless he becomes Muslim.
[ When he says something to deprecate him. His execution is a hadd and hence it is of no use if he repents or denies it when there is clear evidence of it. Repentance does not cancel a hadd. This is why he says that his repentance is not accepted.]
[The same principle applies to someone who curses one of the Prophets or one of the angels or denies one of the Books of Allah. If someone abuses someone whose prophethood is a matter of dispute, like al-Khidr, he is strongly punished but not killed.
Statements of dhimmis which constitutes their disbelief would be things like a Jew saying, "He is not a messenger to us, Our Messenger is Musa." Abuse beyond their intrinsic disbelief would be criticising the character of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. An example of that which constitutes his disbelief is saying that God is three or that He has a son.]
37.19i. Estate of an apostate
The estate of the apostate goes to the Muslim community.
[ It is placed in the treasury.]
40.18b. The exceptions to that rule
The life of a Muslim is not lawful unless he apostasies after belief, commits illicit sex after he is muhsan, kills someone when it is not a case of retaliation, or engages in corruption in the earth or renounces the deen.
[ The exception to this inviolability is for a legal right, which refers to the three matters which he mentioned. In property, anyone who destroys something must pay for it.
The cases when taking life is permitted are indicated here. In the case of apostasy, he is asked to repent for three days. "Corruption in the earth" is banditry and highway robbery. Renouncing the deen is to embrace the dogma of the people of the sects about whom the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "They will pass through the deen like an arrow passes through game." In the Misbah, it goes through one side and comes out the other. ]
1.8d. Islam and Wrong actions
No Muslim becomes an unbeliever (kafir) through wrong actions.
[It must be believed that no Muslim who commits a wrong action becomes an unbeliever as long as he believes. The same applies to someone who commits acts of disobedience while he nevertheless believes that the Shari'a forbids them. If someone does something which demonstrates that he lacks belief, like throwing a copy of the Qur'an into the rubbish, then he is an apostate...]The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani Chapter 1 on Aisha Bewly's website
A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dani by al-Azhari)(310/922 - 386/996)
Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri:
('O:' represents a excerpt from the commentary of Sheikh ‘Umar Barakat. 'A:' represents a comment by Sheikh ‘Abd al-Wakil Durubi. 'n:' represents a comment by Sheikh Nuh ‘Ali Salman)
(O: Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst. It may come about through sarcasm, as when someone is told, “Trim your nails, it is sunna, and he replies, “I would not do it even if it were, as opposed to when some circumstance exists which exonerates him of having committed apostasy, such as when his tongue runs away with him, or when he is quoting someone, or says it out of fear.)
O8.1 When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed.
O8.2 In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph (A: or his representive) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.
O8.3 If he is a freeman, no one besides the caliph or his representative may kill him. If someone else kills him, the killer is disciplined (def: o17) (O: for arrogating the caliph's prerogative and encroaching upon his rights, as this is one of his duties).
O8.4 There is no indemnity for killing an apostate (O: or any expiation, since it is killing someone who deserves to die).
O8.5 If he apostatizes from Islam and returns several times, it (O: i.e. his return to Islam, which occurs when he states the two Testifications of Faith (def: o8.7 (12)) ) is accepted from him, though he is disciplined (o17).
O8.6 (A: If a spouse in a consummated marriage apostatizes from Islam, the couple are separated for a waiting period consisting of three intervals between menstruations. If the spouse returns to Islam before the waiting period ends, the marriage is not annulled but is considered to have continued the whole time (dis: m7.4).)
O8.7: Acts that Entail Leaving Islam (O: Among the things that entail apostasy from Islam (may Allah protect us from them) are:
1 to prostrate to an idol, whether sarcastically, out of mere contrariness, or in actual conviction, like that of someone who believes the Creator to be something that has originated in time. Like idols in this respect are the sun or moon, and like prostration is bowing to other than Allah, if one intends reverence towards it like the reverence due to Allah;
2 to intend to commit unbelief, even if in the future. And like this intention is hesitating whether to do so or not: one thereby immediately commits unbelief;
3 to speak words that imply unbelief such as “Allah is the third of three, or “I am Allah unless one's tongue has run away with one, or one is quoting another, or is one of the friends of Allah Most High (wali, def: w33) in a spiritually intoxicated state of total oblivion (A: friend of Allah or not, someone totally oblivious is as if insane, and is not held legally responsible (dis: k13.1 (O:)) ), for these latter do not entail unbelief;
4 to revile Allah or His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace);
5 to deny the existence of Allah, His beginingless eternality, His endless eternality, or to deny any of His attributes which the consensus of Muslims ascribes to Him (dis: v1);
6 to be sarcastic about Allah's name, His command, His interdiction, His promise, or His threat;
7 to deny any verse of the Koran or anything which by scholarly consensus (def: b7) belongs to it, or to add a verse that does belong to it;
8 to mockingly say, “I don't know what faith is;
9 to reply to someone who says, “There is no power or strength save through Allah; “Your saying `There's no power or strength, etc, ' won't save you from hunger;
10 for a tyrant, after an oppressed person says, “This is through the decree of Allah, to reply, “I act without the decree of Allah;
11 to say that a Muslim is an unbeliever (kafir) (dis: w47) in words that are uninterpretable as merely meaning he is an ingrate towards Allah for divinely given blessings (n: in Arabic, also “kafir);
12 when someone asks to be taught the Testification of Faith (Ar. Shahada, the words, “La ilaha ill Allahu Muhammadun rasulu Llah (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah)), and a Muslim refuses to teach him it;
13 to describe a Muslim or someone who wants to become a Muslim in terms of unbelief (kufr);
14 to deny the obligatory character of something which by the consensus of Muslims (ijma`, def: B7) is part of Islam, when it is well known as such, like the prayer (salat) or even one rak'a from one of the five obligatory prayers, if there is no excuse (def: u2.4);
15 to hold that any of Allah's messengers or prophets are liars, or to deny their being sent;
(n: `Ala' al-din' Abidin adds the following:
16 to revile the religion of Islam;
17 to believe that things in themselves or by their own nature have any causal influence independent of the will of Allah;
18 to deny the existence of angels or jinn (def: w22), or the heavens;
19 to be sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law;
20 or to deny that Allah intended the Prophet's message (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the religion followed by the entire world (dis: w4.3-4) (al-Hadiyya al-`Ala'iyya (y4), 423-24).)
There are others, for the subject is nearly limitless. May Allah Most High save us and allMuslims from it.)
Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Edited and Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller (p. 595)
o1.1 - Retaliation
Retaliation is obligatory (A: if the person entitled wishes to take it (dis: o3.8)) against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right. (O: Intentionally is a first restriction and excludes killing someone through an honest mistake, while purely excludes a mistake made in a deliberate injury (def: o2.3), and without right excludes cases of justifiable homicide such as lawful retaliation.) [back to top]
o1.2 The following are not subject to retaliation:
-1- a child or insane person, under any circumstances
-2- a Muslim for killing a non-Muslim;
-3- a Jewish or Christian subject of the Islamic state for killing an apostate from Islam (O: because a subject of the state is under its protection, while killing an apostate from Islam is without consequences);
-4- A father or mother (or their fathers of mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring;-5- nor is retaliation permissible to a descendant for (A: his ancestor's) killing someone whose death would otherwise entitle the descendant to retaliate, such as when his father kills his mother.
Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Edited and Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller (p. 508, o1.1-2)
Shafi`i teaching is also given by Nawawi in his book Minhaj-at-Talibin which is a standard work in Egypt, South India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Nawawi defines apostasy as follows:
Page 436: 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 sprit of contradiction or in good faith. Before such words can be considered as a sign of apostasy they must contain a precise declaration
That one does not believe in the existence of the Creator, or of his Apostles; or That Muhammad, or one of the other apostles, is an impostor; or That one considers lawful what is strictly forbidden by the ijmaa; or The one considered to be forbidden what is lawful according to the ijmaa That one is not obliged to follow the precepts of the ijmaa, as well positive as negative; or That one intends shortly to change one's religion; or that one has doubts upon the subject of the truth of Islam etc.
Page 436: 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. Throwing the Quran upon a muck heap, prostrating oneself before an idol, or worshipping the sun.
Page 69: A sane adult Moslem who refuses to pray and dénies the obligation is an apostate and punishable as such ; even if he has merely neglected prayer through laziness, without denying its obligation, he is none the less punishable with death.
Page 241: By the fact of being born of Moslem parents, even though only one of them may bave been Moslem at the moment of the child's conception. If such a child, after attaining majority becomes an infidel, he must be regarded and punished as an apostate
Page 437: 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.
Page 523: Where, after execution of a death penalty, either under the law of talion, or for apostasy, or even by stoning or whipping, the witnesses déclare that they hâve made a false declaration, intentionally, against the executed person, they are punishable either with death under the law of talion, or with payment of the price of blood on the higher scalePage 69: Capital punishment is liable to be incurred by the omission of even one single prescribed prayer, the moment its time is passed, if done designedly and without ofïering any excuse. One should begin by exhorting the culprit to repentance, and if this be unavailing strike him upon the neck. Some authorities prefer that he should be pricked with a sharp instrument until he either prays or dies.
Nawawi continues on the subject of an apostate's property and someone who insults Muhammad or another prophet:
Shaybani's Siyar (The Islamic law of nations), by Muhammad Shaybani (Imam Abu Hanifa's student):
986 He replied: Islam would be offered to him; he has either to accept it or be killed at once, unless he asked for deferment. This would be given to him and its duration would be 3 days.
987 I asked: Has any narrative come to your knowledge about this matter?
988 He replied: Yes, it has been related to us from the Prophet to this effect, as well as [narratives] from [The caliph] Abi b. Abi Taalib, AbdAllah b. Mas'ud, and Mu'adh b. Jabal. Thus this ruling is based on the Sunna.
1033 I asked: Would you think that the apostate's slaughtered animal would be lawful to eat
1034 He replied: No
1035 I asked: Even if he had become a Christian?
1036 He replied: Even if he had [apostatized to Christianity], because he would not enjoy the status of a Jew or a Christian. Do you think that he would be permitted to remain in the religion [he had adpoted]? He would have to become a Muslim or else be executed.
1053 I asked: If a man has apostatized from Islam and another [man] cut off his hand or destroyed, intentionally or unintentionally, his eye or committed against him any other tort, intentionally or unintentially, would this [other] man be held liable for anything?
1054 He replied: No
1055 I asked: Why?
1056 He replied: Since his blood is lawful to shed nobody would be liable for any tort against him, whether cutting off his hand or foot or committing a tort or injury against him.
1057 I asked: Would [the ruling] be the same if he accepts Islam and then dies of the wound?
1058 He replied: The person who has committed [the said tort] would not be liable for anything.
1069 I asked: If a woman apostatized from Islam, what would be the ruling regarding her?
1070 He replied: Abu Hanifa held that she would not be executed, but imprisoned indefinitely until she returns to Islam.
1130 + However, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad [b. al-Hasan] held that the apostate woman would be liable to execution unless she returns to Islam. But Abu Hanifa held that she would be in the same category as a very old man.
1159 I asked: If a tort was committed against [the slave woman] in apostasy, would the offender be held liable for anything?
1160 He replied: No
1161 I asked: Why, if you do not approve of the execution of women?
1162 He replied: Since some of the jurists hold that apostate women should be executed, I hold that a tort committed against them would not render [the offender] liable [for paying compensation]
1330 I asked: If a group [of Muslims] apostatized from Islam and were attacked by [other] Muslims without [first] having been invited to adopt Islam, do you think that those [who attacked] would be liable for anything?
1331 He replied: No
1332 I asked: Why? According to Sunna they should be invited [to accept Islam] before being fought.
1333 He replied: Even so, they would not be liable for anything.
1334 I asked: Would the same be true if a single man apostatized from Islam and was killed by another before was invited [to return] to Islam?
1335 He replied: Yes
1341 + Men [who apostatize] would be liable to be executed, regardless whether they were slaves or free.
1344 I asked: If a lad apostatized from Islam before he reached puberty, do you think that he would be executed?
1345 He replied: No
1346 I asked: Would the same hold true if he had come of age while still an unbeliever?1347 He replied: I would order his imprisonment rather than execution, because he had never professed Islam after he had come of age.
By Muhammad Shaybani (Imam Abu Hanifa's student), cited on The Rationaliser blog
Al Umda fi al Fiqh, by Imam Muwaffaq Ibn Qudama (A.H. 541-620):
If someone apostatizes from Islam, whether it be a man or a woman, the penalty of death must be enforced, because of the saying of Allah's Apostle "If someone changes his religion, you must kill him".
The apostate should not be killed until he has been invited three times to repent. If he repents [he is spared], but if not, he is killed by the sword. If someone denies Allah's existence, or attributes to Him a partner, or a consort, or a son, or if he accuses Allah (Exhalted is He) of telling lies, or blasphemes him, or if he calls His Messenger a liar, or insults him, or if he denies a Prophet, or denies the Book of Allah or anything from it, or denies one of the basic pillars of Islam, or if he attributes lawfulness to something declared unlawful by the consensus of legal opinion, he is guilty of apostasy - unless he is one of those who are unaware of the religious duties and prohibitions, in which case he must be informed thereof, and if he does not accept, he is guilty of unbelief.
The Islam of the Intelligent Minor is considered authentic. If he apostatizes, he must not be killed until he has been invited to repent, three times after his adolescence. If someone's apostasy is established, but he professes Islam, it is accepted of him. In his profession of Islam, it is sufficient for him to bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah's messenger, unless his belief takes the form of denying a prophet, or a book, or an obligatory religious duty, or something of the kind, or he is convinced that Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him and peace) was sent to the Arabs exclusively, in which case it is not accepted of him until he affirms what he denies.If two spouses both apostatize, and they settle in the region of war and are taken captive, their enslavement is not permissible, nor is the enslavement of a child born to them before their apostasy, but the enslavement of the rest of their children is permissable.
By Imam Muwaffaq Ibn Qudama (A.H. 541-620), page 309
A man whose religion was Islam and his nationality is Egyptian married a German Christian and the couple agreed that the husband would join the Christian faith and doctrine.
1) What is the Islamic ruling in relation to this man? What are the punishments prescribed for this act?
2) Are his children considered Muslim or Christian?
All praise is to Allah, the Lord of the Universe and salutations on the leader of the righteous, our master Muhammed, his family and all of his companions.
This man has committed apostasy; he must be given a chance to repent and if he does not then he must be killed according to Shariah.As far as his children are concerned, as long as they are children they are considered Muslim, but after they reach the age of puberty, then if they remain with Islam they are Muslim, but if they leave Islam and they do not repent they must be killed and Allah knows best.
Abdullah al-Mishadd, Head of the Fatwa Council of Al-Azhar, Al-Azhar University, September 23, 1978
“And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever”
And it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh. What this hadeeth means is that whoever leaves Islam and changes to another religion and persists in that and does not repent, is to be executed. It was also proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a person who bears witness that there is no god but Allaah and that I am the Messenger of Allaah except in three cases: a life for a life, a previously-married person who commits adultery, and one who leaves Islam and forsakes the jamaa’ah.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.
This harsh punishment is for a number of reasons:
1 – This punishment is a deterrent to anyone who wants to enter Islam just to follow the crowd or for hypocritical purposes. This will motivate him to examine the matter thoroughly and not to proceed unless he understands the consequences of that in this world and in the Hereafter. The one who announces his Islam has agreed to adhere to all the rulings of Islam of his own free will and consent, one of which rulings is that he is to be executed if he apostatizes from the faith.
2 – The one who announces his Islam has joined the jamaa’ah (main body) of the Muslims, and whoever joins the main body of the Muslims is required to be completely loyal and to support it and protect it against anything that may lead to fitnah or destroy it or cause division. Apostasy from Islam means forsaking the jamaa’ah and its divine order, and has a harmful effect on it. Execution is the greatest deterrent that will prevent people from committing such a crime.
3 – Those Muslims who are weak in faith and others who are against Islam may think that the apostate has only left Islam because of what he has found out about its real nature, because if it were the truth then he would never have turned away from it. So they learn from him all the doubts, lies and fabrications which are aimed at extinguishing the light of Islam and putting people off from it. In this case executing the apostate is obligatory, in order to protect the true religion from the defamation of the liars and to protect the faith of its adherents and remove obstacles from the path of those who are entering the faith.
4 – We also say that the death penalty exists in the modern laws of man to protect the system from disorder in some situation and to protect society against certain crimes which may cause its disintegration, such as drugs etc. If execution can serve as a deterrent to protect man-made systems, then it is more appropriate that the true religion of Allaah, which Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it [cf. Fussilat 41:42], and which is all goodness, happiness and tranquility in this world and in the Hereafter should punish those who commit acts of aggression against it and seek to extinguish its light and defame its image, and who fabricate lies against it to justify their apostasy and deviation.Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 21/234-231.
Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 12406
"It is not right to deny the punishment of apostasy claiming that it has not been reported in the Qur'an, because it has been recorded in the mutawatir (Hadith which has been reported by at least four of the Companions in different times and places in a way that make a person sure that such Hadith is not fabricated) and the non-mutawatir Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). Hudud (Islamic punishment specified for certain crimes) may, of course, be based on the non-mutawatir Sunnah."
Detailing the issue and showing some of the evidence for the punishment of apostasy, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:
"All Muslim jurists agree that the apostate is to be punished. However, they differ regarding the punishment itself. The majority of them go for killing; meaning that an apostate is to be sentenced to death.
Many authentic Hadiths have been reported in this regard. Ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Whoever changes his religion, you kill him." (Reported by all the group except Muslim, and at-Tabarani also reported it with a sound chain of narrators. Also recorded in Majma` Az-Zawa'id by Al-Haythamiy.)
There is also the Hadith of Ibn Mas`ud that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The blood of a Muslim individual who bears witness that there is no god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, is not to be shed except in three cases: in retaliation (in murder crimes), married adulterers (and adulteresses), and the one who abandons his religion and forsakes the Muslim community." (Reported by the Group)The actual example of one of the greatest Companions, `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) gives credit to this also. He himself carried out the punishment on some people who had deified him. He gave them three days respite to repent and go back to their senses. When they proved adamant, he put them to fire.”
(2) The one who has known the religion which Allaah revealed, entered it and practised it, then rejected it, despised it and left it, is a person who does not deserve to live on the earth of Allaah and eat from the provision of Allaah.
(3) By leaving Islaam, the apostate opens the way for everyone who wants to leave the faith, thus spreading apostasy and encouraging it.
(4) The apostate is not to be killed without warning. Even though his crime is so great, he is given a last chance, a respite of three days in which to repent. If he repents, he will be left alone; if he does not repent, then he will be killed.
(5) If the punishment for murder and espionage (also known as high treason) is death, then what should be the punishment for the one who disbelieves in the Lord of mankind and despises and rejects His religion? Is espionage or shedding blood worse than leaving the religion of the Lord of mankind and rejecting it?(6) None of those who bleat about personal freedom and freedom of belief would put up with a neighbour’s child hitting their child or justify this as "personal freedom," so how can they justify leaving the true religion and rejecting the sharee’ah which Allaah revealed to teach mankind about His unity and bring justice and fairness to all?
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 811
[Quotes Al-Bukhaari (6922), Al-Bukhaari (6484), and Muslim (1676)]
The general meaning of these ahaadeeth indicates that it is essential to put the apostate to death whether he is waging war on Islam (muhaarib) or not.
The view that the apostate who is to be put to death is the one who is waging war on Islam (muhaarib) only is contrary to these ahaadeeth. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that the reason why he should be put to death is his apostasy, not his waging war against Islam.
Undoubtedly some kinds of apostasy are more abhorrent than others, and the apostasy of one who wages war against Islam is more abhorrent than that of anyone else. Hence some of the scholars differentiated between them, and said that it is not essential to ask the muhaarib to repent or to accept his repentance; rather he should be put to death even if he repents, whereas the repentance of one who is not a muhaarib should be accepted and he should not be put to death. This is the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him).
Apostasy is of two types: ordinary apostasy and extreme apostasy, for which execution is prescribed. In both cases there is evidence that it is essential to execute the apostate, but the evidence indicating that the sentence of death may be waived if the person repents does not apply to both types of apostasy. Rather the evidence indicates that that is allowed only in the first case – i.e., ordinary apostasy – as will be clear to anyone who studies the evidence that speaks about accepting the repentance of the apostate. In the second type – i.e., extreme apostasy – the obligation to put the apostate to death still stands, and there is no text or scholarly consensus to indicate that the death sentence may be waived. The two cases are quite different and there is no comparison between them. It does not say in the Qur’aan or Sunnah, or according to scholarly consensus, that everyone who apostatizes in word or deed may be spared the death sentence if he repents after he is a captured and tried. Rather the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and scholarly consensus, differentiate between the different kinds of apostates.
Al-Saarim al-Maslool, 3/696
. . .
Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 14231
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 696
A: The issue of killing the apostate is a function of the state. His judgment belongs with the Islamic government. This is not the concern of Islamic foundations, associations, or centers. A group of Salafis and Imams are of the opinion that not every apostate should be killed, but rather only those who openly commit apostasy, or call for fitna, or voice harmful things against Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) and the believers. [The apostate] is killed in order to protect the religion and the community from his corruption, and not to restrict freedoms, as he by his action is infringing on the rights of others. The interests of the state and the society come before individual self-interest. In truth, this issue is similar to what is termed in contemporary law as “high treason” because of the harm to the public that it causes.
European Council for Fatwa and Research, August 16, 2008
Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon, Beirut, Fatwa issued November 13, 1989
Tahrir al-Wasilah by Ayatolla Khomeini:
1-Chapter on Irtidad or Apostasy
Problem # 1. Under the section on inheritance, we have already mentioned the two categories of Apostate and some relevant laws. So Islam of a Murtad al-Fitri (an Apostate born of Muslim parents) shall apparently not be accepted [after he has first apostatized], and he shall be condemned to death if he is male, but a woman shall not be condemned to death even if she is Murtadda al-Fitriya (a woman born of Muslim parents), but shall be kept in life imprisonment, and she shall be given beatings at the times of prayer, and she shall be subjected to tightening or scarcity of food. Her repentance shall be accepted. So if she repents, she shall be set free. A Murtad al-Milli (and Apostate born of non-Muslim parents) shall be asked to repent. On his refusal, he shall be condemned to death.
Problem # 2. It is a condition for the enforcement of law of apostasy that the apostate must be adult, sane, and having free will and intention. So the apostasy of a minor body has not legal value, even if he is an adolescent, nor of a lunatic, even if has periodical lunacy, nor of one under duress (mukreh), or one acting without intention as, one acting as a joke, by mistake, out of negligence and in a state of stupor. If a person becomes apostate in a state of anger in which he has lost control on himself, he shall not be governed by the law of apostasy.
Problem # 3. If some indications appear in a person that lead to apostasy, and he claims to be acting under duress with the existence of its likelihood, or lack of intention or slip of tongue with the existence of its likelihood, such excuses shall he accepted from him. If some evidence is produced about some utterance by him leading to apostasy, and he brings forth the excuses mentioned before, his claim shall be accepted.
Problem # 4. A child born to a Murtad al-Milli before his apostasy shall he treated as a Muslim. If he becomes an infidel after attaining adulthood, he shall be asked to repent. If he repents, (well and good), otherwise he shall be condemned to death. Likewise, the son of a Murtad al-Fitri born before his apostasy shall be treated as a Muslim. If he becomes an infidel after attaining adulthood, and similarly the son of a Muslim who becomes an intidel alter attaining adulthood before announcing their Islam, apparently both of them shall not be treated as a Martad al-Fitri, but shall be asked to repent, [if they repent, well and good, but if they refuse] they shall be condemned to death.
Problem # 5. If a Murtad al-Milli repeats apostasy (after once having repented], he shall be condemned to death after he apostatizes for a third time, and according to some jurists, for the fourth time, and this is a more cautious opinion.
Problem # 6. If a Murtad al-Milli becomes insane after apostasy but before he is asked to repent, he shall not be condemned to death. But if he becomes insane after having been asked to repent and after his refusal leading to the permissibility of shedding his blood, he shall be condemned to death, as a Murtad al-Fitri is condemned to death when he suffers insanity after apostasy.
Problem # 7. If a person kills a Murtad al-Milli subsequent to his repentance under the impression that he has still been apostate, some jurists are of the opinion that the killer shall be liable to undergo (Qisas). But according to the stronger opinion, he shall not be liable to Qisas. Of course, he shall be liable to pay Diyat from his property.
Problem # 8. If an apostate kills a muslim deliberately, his wali (or guardian shall be entitled to kill the murderer by way of Qisas. That will be precedent to his death sentence for apostasy. If the wali [of the Muslim killed by the apostate] pardons him or compromises on payment of money, the killer shall be condemned to death for apostasy.Problem # 9. An apostasy is proved by the testimony of two witnesses of reputed integrity and by confession of the apostate. It is more cautious that the apostate must repent twice. But it is not established by the testimony of women alone or accompanied by men.
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