Read Apostasy in Islam: A Historical & Scriptural Analysis by Taha Jabir Al-Alwani Online


What is the legally prescribed penalty, if any, for apostasy (al-riddah), and how does this relate to the demand for religious tolerance as stipulated in verse 2:256 of the Qur’an “There shall be no compulsion in matters of faith”?It is an established fact that the Prophet never, in his entire life, put an apostate to death. Yet, the issue remains one of the most controverWhat is the legally prescribed penalty, if any, for apostasy (al-riddah), and how does this relate to the demand for religious tolerance as stipulated in verse 2:256 of the Qur’an “There shall be no compulsion in matters of faith”?It is an established fact that the Prophet never, in his entire life, put an apostate to death. Yet, the issue remains one of the most controversial to have afflicted the Muslim world down the centuries. It is also the source of much damaging media coverage today as Islamic jurisprudence stands accused of a flagrant disregard for human rights and freedom of expression.The subject of this book is a highly sensitive and important one. The author rightly concentrates on evidence, to examine the historical origins of the debate in rigorous detail, as well as the many moral and contextual issues surrounding it. Disputing arguments put forward by proponents of the death penalty he contends that both the Qur’an and the Sunnah promote freedom of belief including the act of exiting the Faith and do not support capital punishment for the sin of al-riddah. Note that attention is on the word sin, for there is qualification: as long as one’s apostasy has not been accompanied by anything else that would be deemed a criminal act, particularly in terms of national security, then according to the author, it remains a matter strictly between God and the individual. Of interest is the fact that the Qur’an significantly refers to individuals repeatedly returning to unbelief after having believed, but does not mention that they should be killed or punished. This work has been written at a time of great complexity and vulnerability when a true understanding of the higher intents and values of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, maqasid al-shariah, is sorely needed. The author employs a strong evidence-based approach examining in detail the Qur’an and authentic Hadith, taking into consideration traditional approaches to the study of the Islamic textual sciences and other fields of knowledge, as well as analyzing scholastic interpretation.Taking the life of a person without just cause is according to the Qur’an equivalent to the killing of the whole of mankind. It is vital therefore, that in the interests of compassion and justice, as well as freedom of belief, this subject is clearly addressed once and for all....

Title : Apostasy in Islam: A Historical & Scriptural Analysis
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ISBN : 9781565643635
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 157 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Apostasy in Islam: A Historical & Scriptural Analysis Reviews

  • Syed Zulfaqar
    2019-05-20 19:44

    I asked my friend, "Is apostasy a sin or a crime? My friend then asked, "what is the context?" Precisely!Before I begin, the kind of apostasy on trial in this book is the individual apostasy and not to be confused with the political apostasy. One being a sin another a crime.Author begins by mentioning that this issue was held closed in the veil of availability of general consensus among scholars for it. This he said, was not the case. In this pressing time of ours it is imperative to shed lights on the real issue at stake.Quranic vs Arabic Tongue Author raised concern on the influence of arabic tongue over what he called the quranic tongue in making and deriving injunctions from the Quran. E.g the term 'hudud' is widely denoted as punishments that are entitled to God. Whereas actually the term 'uqubah' literally is more fitting. Hudud where it was mentioned in the quran in fact is hardly associated with any kind of punishment. It is mostly deals with problems associated with family affairs. In fact, hudud actually carry a wider meaning of the general law and ordinances set up by God, a set of boundaries that need not to be overstepped.RiddahRiddah means that a person tracing back his past steps abandoning the journey that he had long-labored to be closer to God. Author said that he then deserve to be pitied, failed to realize his goals, unworthy even for an earthly penalty.La ikraha fiddinAuthor cited Rashid Rida commentary on the verse 'la ikraha fiddin' in his Tafsir Al-Manar about its context and asbabul wurud. When Banu Nadir was expelled from Medina, some sahaba ask the prophet if they can force their children that convert to Judaism to Islam. In doing so, they hope that they can prevent them from expulsion. But prophet says "if they choose you they belong to you and if they choose them they belong to them". Thus it is decisive in this matter that no people should be brought into Islam by mean of coercion. Even if they being your own sons.Faith, matter of the heartFor sure, faith and unbelief are the matters of the heart, between the lord and the servant. Thus the reckoning belongs to God alone. The reckoning is with God as long as the act of apostasy did not accompanied with any criminal acts.Truce of HudaibiyyahHudaibiyyah served as a light in this matter. If punishment of apostasy is binding how come the prophet come to accept the term of the truce? Where a person that choose to dissociate from ummah and run to Mecca is not to be sent back to Medina. If binding, Rasul in all his capacity will carry on the punishment. Such is the attitude of Rasul in case of theft, because of the existence of a prescribed divine legal punishment, Rasul does not compromised, even if the thief was Fatimah. This analysis of him is coherent with my brief analysis of Truce of Hudaibiyyah recorded in Raheeq Makhtum. That the truce is accepted as it ensure religious freedom for all, both muslims and non-muslims which is the reason of waging the war in the first place.Apostasy in QuranFor certainty there is no prescribed legal punishment for apostasy in the Quran. In fact the author estimates more than 200 verses in Quran affirming the freedom of choice that the people have.Apostasy in SunnahThe prophet himself never put into death an apostate or unbeliever in his life - as maintains by Imam Shafie. The incident where the prophet order several people to be executed after the conquest of Mecca is because of associated crimes although among them are apostates like Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh. In his case Uthman Affan pleaded for him, and Rasullah s.a.w granted him a safety. If the punishment for apostasy is binding Rasulullah will not granted him amnesty. Such is the case when Usamah want to intercede for a woman of Banu Makhzum guilty of stealing. Rasulullah s.a.w replied to Usamah: "Are you asking me to change one of the limits set by God?" Why then not the same reply in case of Ibn Sa'd's apostasy?The derivation of the legislated punishment for apostasy indeed comes from ahadiths. However, most of them are contestedi n its context, asbabul wurud and chain of transmission. And I think the capacity of the prophet within the ruling should also be contested. Such hadith is one from Muaz bin Jabal that said: 'God and His apostle has decreed:"if anyone reverts from his religion, put him to death"'1)This is a solitary hadith 2)Author suggest a link of this hadith with jewish group that believe and revert to shackle society (3:69-74). As Muaz rule over this on jews, that came into his attention keep on changing his religion.3) Does the prophet ruled this in his capacity as a ruler? i.e without specific scenario and his permission it will not to be ruled over people? Because, based on Quranic verses, 3:69-74 and 33:60-63, Rasulullah s.a.w as a ruler, must've a serious security situation in his mind when he utters the words.Apostasy in Khulafa' Ar-Rasyidin EraAnother source of its legislation comes from the act of sahabah specifically the khulafa' ar-rasyidin.Of Abu Bakr there is no doubt that the act of riddah was followed with an act of treason and rebellion against the state. The act is then no longer in the realm of individual, it's now fall into the matter of the state.Of Umar Al-Khattab, it comes to a surprise that he actually did not consent death penalty, rather in his era, he did imprisonment.Of Ali. This is where the controversy came about. There are several reported act of Ali burning the apostates to death are full of doubts.1)The hadith is solitary (ahad) without report of any names and number of victims. How come such big & momentous event get such low coverage?2)inconsistency in the details of the event between report and report3)Plus the prophet disapprove killing with fire, as that viewed as God-only right. How comes Ali among the dearest companion did so?4)Author said the report may be a mean to weaken Ali's position by its opponents to degrade him to the level of idolatrous people of Abraham. This might holds true as the reports was widely circulated after some times.Why much confusion for political apostasy and religious/individual apostasy?1) Influence of other well-established law in recently conquered lands that before were ruled over by Byzantines, Persians, Roman-Christian. Such rule was shifting of allegiances and rebellion against the political and legal order.2) Imprecise definition of causes behind the 'wars of apostasy' in Abu Bakr era. At that time, Umar questioned this decision by saying that they still profess shahadah, so by "what right were they to be fought against?" However, Abu Bakr understand religion in a comprehensive way in which legislation, authority, public order and governance all play a part. At that time no distinction was made between doctrines and laws. Thus, the war was not waged to force them to change their personal belief rather to make them to live up to their obligations as citizen of the state.In essence, said the author, it is inconceivable that Quran affirming freedom of choice in more than 200 verses will allow such stern penalty for apostasy, where the act is not but only harming oneself.

  • heidi
    2019-06-04 20:39

    Eloquently written and well-argued. The writer has done an exemplary job staying away from fallacies commonly employed by authors of religious books — namely, proof by obfuscation: the practice of citing so many Quranic verses and hadiths that the point / argument being made is lost to the readers, intending readers to simply give up in frustration and leave the writer and his stand well alone because, someone who knows that many verses and hadiths to quote is clearly a scholar whose authority is not to be questioned, amiright?This book also highlights two trends among later day Muslims (those living after the death of Prophet Muhammad and his companions) that are not beneficial to the religious community:1- Holding the authority of hadiths of demonstrably questionable origins above Quranic verses and Sunnah, as well as putting the Sunnah itself above the Quran,2- Dividing the Muslim community to different schools of thought led by different Great Imams, when in fact the only exemplary human being Muslims should emulate is the Messenger (Prophet Muhammad) himself.I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the answer to the question, Does Islam truly prescribe the death penalty for those who leave the religion, or any punishment (in this world) at all?"It is an established fact that the Prophet never, in his entire life, put an apostate to death."

  • Mohammad Afzal
    2019-06-20 15:36