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Topic initiated on Saturday, March 25, 2006  -  12:42 AM Reply with quote
What do you think about the Afghan convert Abdul R

In current news, the story of Abdul Rahman is very prominent in the West, who converted to Christianity from Islam. Read this story if you are unaware:


Here is a quote

"The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back," says Ansarullah Mawlafizada, the trial judge.

"Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told him if he regrets what he did, then we will forgive him," he told the BBC News website.

This is the general opinion of the Afghan people, to put him to death.

What do you think?

Posted - Saturday, March 25, 2006  -  8:43 AM Reply with quote
here is a view on this issue:
Afghan Convert Controversy: A Counter-Perspective on Apostasy in Islam;;;(www.islaminterfaith.org)
Following close on the heels of the furore fuelled by the Danish
cartoons another major controversy is now set to further complicate relations
between the West and the Muslim world. This concerns the possible
execution of an Afghan Muslim convert to Christianity, Abdul Rahman, for
having changed his religion. The Western press has taken particular
interest in the issue, and Western leaders, including of countries that have
themselves been among the most heinous violators of human rights and
backers of repressive regimes in the Muslim world, have sent urgent
messages of protest to the Afghan government demanding that Abdul Rahman be

Afghanistan claims to be an Islamic Republic, and according to its
present Constitution it recognises no laws that might violate the shariah
or Islamic jurisprudence. According to the dominant view of the ulama,
experts in Islamic law, the punishment for a Muslim apostate is death.
Leaving Islam for another religion is seen as a revolt against God
because Islam is regarded as God's only chosen religion. Hence, the
apostate is believed to merit nothing less than capital punishment.
Accordingly, Islam thus comes to be reduced to a one-way street. While it
ardently exhorts its followers to engage in missionary work in order to bring
the whole of humanity in its fold, it sternly forbids, on the pain of
death, abandoning it for other religions, which it regards as false. Or
so most 'ulama and Islamist ideologues seem to believe. Hence,
defenders of this law in Afghanistan and elsewhere insist that the hapless
Abdul Rahman deserves to be killed.

This cruel punishment for Muslim apostates is, however, not the only
view on the issue. Historically and increasingly today, this view has
been challenged by other Islamic scholars, who see it as having no
warrant in their understanding of their faith. An interesting critique of the
dominant Islamic perspective on the question of apostasy is provided by
the Indian scholar Asad Subhani, head of the Faculty of Islamic Studies
in the College of Education , Zanzibar. In his recently published book,
‘Apostasy in Islam’, he argues that the death sentence for apostasy
from Islam that involves a genuine change of faith is a gross violation of
the Quranic commandment that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’.
According to the Quran, he writes, God has given human beings the choice of
doing good or evil, of believing in Islam or rejecting it. This is
God's way of testing human beings. Nowhere in the Qur'an, Subhani notes, is
the death penalty for apostasy mentioned. The Quran refers to apostasy
in some ten verses, but the punishment for it is clearly suggested as
being reserved for the afterlife, not in this world itself. Hence,
Subhani argues, killing apostates simply because of their change of faith
goes against the Quran. Forcing apostates to recant and declare
themselves as Muslims if they want to escape capital punishment when they do not
actually believe in Islam is nothing short of hypocrisy, which the
Qur'an considers a heinous sin.

Not finding support for their position in the Qur'an, advocates of the
death punishment for apostasy draw on the corpus of Hadith, traditions
attributed to the Prophet. Subhani mentions a number of such traditions
in which the Prophet is said to have ordered the killing of apostates.
Subhani regards only some of these as genuine, but argues that even
these need to be viewed carefully in their historical context. Further, he
argues that they must also be understood in the light of the Qur'anic
dictum 'There is no compulsion in religion'.

Subhani claims that many of the Hadith reports that lay down death for
apostates relate specifically to those Muslims who abandon Islam and
actively engage in treason or what Subhani calls 'conspiracies' against
the Islam and the ‘Islamic state’. These reports, he argues, do not
apply to other apostates, who are free to choose any religion they want.
This explains, Subhani points out, why, according to one Hadith report,
the Prophet did not punish a certain Bedouin who had renounced Islam.
Likewise, when the caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz learnt of some Muslims who
had abandoned Islam he ordered his governor, Maimun bin Mahran, to
release them. Following in this tradition, Subhani tells us, a number of
leading Islamic scholars from earliest times down to our own, have
opposed the death penalty for 'non-aggressive' apostates, although these
voices have been and continue to be in a minority.

In approaching the Hadith reports relating to apostasy Subhani advises
great caution. He reminds his readers of the number of so-called
Prophetic traditions on a range of issues that are either 'weak' or later
concoctions. and later. In this regard he cites two reports that relate
to women who accepted Islam and then renounced it. The Prophet, so these
reports have it, announced that the women should either repent and
become Muslim again or else be killed. Subhani analyses the chain of
transmitters of these traditions, and notes among them are certain
individuals who are recognised by Islamic scholars as unreliable. One of them is
even said to have earned notoriety for inventing stories which he
falsely attributed to the Prophet. Hence, Subhani writes, a number of Hadith
critics believe that these traditions are 'weak', and, therefore, are

To further back his argument against the dominant position of the ulama
on apostasy, Subhani cites the case of the apostate Abdullah bin Abi
Sarh, who is said to have sided with the Arab pagans against the Prophet.
However, he was forgiven by the Prophet. This suggests, Subhani writes,
that 'it is not necessary that even a combatant apostate be necessarily
killed' . While a non-combatant apostate is not to be killed, the
punishment for a combatant apostate need not be death in all cases, Subhani
argues. The punishment is a matter of discretion for the judge, who can
choose to sentence him to death or to imprisonment or even to pardon

In discussing the treatment of apostates from Islam, Subhani is
particularly critical of traditional ulama of the Hanafi school of Islamic
jurisprudence, with which the vast majority of the Afghan as well as other
South Asian ulama are associated. He castigates for adopting an
uncritical approach to the corpus of Hadith, ignoring both the particular
historical contexts of each narration as well as the fact of numerous
'weak' and concocted traditions. It is this approach, he says, which
explains why most Hanafi scholars continue to uphold the punishment of death
for apostasy. Subhani locates what he sees as a logical fallacy in the
dominant Hanafi argument on the issue. Under Hanafi law, a woman, as
opposed to a male, apostate is not to be killed. Rather, her punishment is
imprisonment until she repents and turns Muslim again or else dies a
natural death. However, if she is also involved in promoting 'strife on
earth' and 'conspiring' against Islam and the Muslims, she is to be
executed. Subhani does not argue against the death penalty for the latter
crime, which he sees as also applicable to male apostates who engage in
similar activities, provided the judge so decides.

At the same time, however, Subhani points to the fact that the reason
that the Hanafi scholars do not lay down the death penalty for general
apostate women (as opposed to those who promote 'strife') is because
such women are not regarded as a ‘threat’ to Islam or the Muslim
community. Using this logic of the Hanafis against the Hanafi position itself,
he argues that this suggests that simple apostasy (out of spiritual or
even worldly motives) on the part of a woman or even a man does not
merit the death penalty, because such apostasy is not linked to any sort of
'conspiracy' against Islam, the Islamic state or the Muslim community.
Hence, contrary to the dominant Hanafi position, the death penalty for
'ordinary' apostates, men as well as women, is actually wrong, their
punishment, Subhani argues, being solely God's prerogative. As he puts
it, 'People who do not want to fight against Islam and have changed their
religion due to some reasons should not be touched'.

Subhani's treatment of the controversial subject of apostasy is
admirable, seeking, as it does, to argue from within an Islamic paradigm
against dominant Muslim understandings on the question. However, while the
distinction that Subhani draws between 'ordinary', 'non-aggressive'
apostates and 'combatant' apostates is valid, he does not provide any
criterion for deciding as to precisely what constitutes 'aggression' and
'conspiracy' against Islam, which he seems to argue merits the death
penalty. Surely, these need to be clearly laid down and not left to
arbitrary decision. Leaving the definition of 'conspiracy' or 'aggression'
undefined and vague will certainly allow for all manner of abuse, leading
even to the murder of apostates on the flimsiest of grounds. One must
bear in mind that even so innocuous matters as wearing shirts and pants
or introducing English in the madrasas are sometimes branded by some
fringe groups as 'conspiracies' against Islam, and it is not unlikely that
the mere change of faith by a Muslim can be similarly construed.

This said, Subhani’s case is a very welcome contribution to a debate
that has been raging for centuries in Muslim circles, often with
frightful results. The argument for freedom of religion and conscience that it
makes is surely a major advance on the position of the traditional
ulama. Today, more voices like his need to be heard, and louder than ever
before, in order to critique both the the hidebound traditionalist ulama
as well as hardened Islamophobes, both of whom see Islam in terms of a
monolith, defined in dry, legalistic terms and having no room for
internal diversity and debate.

Posted - Saturday, March 25, 2006  -  8:47 AM Reply with quote
Death for Apostasy and the Draconian Shariah Law: Afghanistan and

Taj Hashmi
Simon Fraser University, Canada

The latest spine chiller from Afghanistan is the revolting news about
sentencing one Abdul Rahman to death for converting to Christianity, a
capital crime as per the obscurantist Shariah law. One might be
surprised at the recrudescence of barbarism in the name of Islam in presence of
UN peace keepers and almost five years after the overthrow of the
demonic Taliban regime. However, those who know about the Shariah code have
nothing to be surprised about dispensing death penalty to apostates
from Islam.

In view of the judgment, one may even assume that since the UN has
recognized the post-Taliban regime, Hamid Karzai being an important US ally
in its “war against terrorism”, the Afghan government, including its
judiciary, is a legitimate part of a sovereign country. Consequently one
may surmise that condemning someone to death for apostasy or blasphemy
in accordance with the Shariah, as it has been going on in countries
like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, is but an “internal affair” of a
sovereign entity like Afghanistan.

On the one hand, some American observers are raising the question if
the Afghan regime wants to revert to the Taliban way of doing things,
then it should do so without American help; and on the other, both the US
President and Canadian Prime Minister have asked the Afghan President
to restore the freedom of religion in the country in accordance with the
UN Declaration of Human Rights. We believe, despite the sabre-rattling
by mullahs and judges, finally the Afghan government will prevail by
unhooking Abdul Rahman from the claws of the Shariah. As we understand,
unfortunately this will happen not by scrapping the barbaric Shariah
code but through a deceptive compromise, by declaring the victim not an
apostate but an insane.

Both the progressive Muslims and upholders of human rights everywhere
should come forward and declare unanimously: “Enough is enough, no more
Shariah law anywhere in the East and West.” Let us bury the past
inadequacies, vacillations and double standards of liberal Muslims and
non-Muslims (mainly due to the exigencies of the Cold War) towards the
violation of human rights in the name of Shariah – from Saudi Arabia to Iran
and Sudan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both the liberal democrats and
secular humanists in the West and East, including the Muslim World,
should fulfill their moral obligations towards humanity. Nothing would be
more counter-productive than portraying the West as the enemy of Islam
and the Muslims as obscurantist Shariah loving terrorists. A bridge is
essential and a “dialogue of civilizations”, to paraphrase former
Iranian President Khatami, between Islam and the West is the only viable
alternative to the Shariah obscurantism and provocative Islamophobia
nourished in the West.

Exerting pressure on Karzai to save Abdul Rahman’s life is fine, but
not enough. Exposing the un-Islamic nature of the Shariah code, together
by liberal, progressive Muslims and non-Muslim upholders of human
rights and dignity with a view to abolishing the so-called Islamic code
everywhere is the only solution to the violation of human rights in the
name of Islam, once for all.

Those who consider attacking Shariah as an affront on Islam and as a
violation of the UN Charter should know that there is nothing “divine”
about the code. Shariah is the combination of legal opinions of Muslim
jurists sought and enforced by medieval Muslim rulers. Although claimed
to be emanating from the Quran, Shariah code is mainly based on
problematic “sayings” of Prophet Muhammad, individual and collective opinions
of medieval jurists, local customs and common sense.

Interestingly, the Islamic scripture or the Quran spells out: “Let
there be no compulsion in religion” [2:256] and does not prescribe any
death penalty for apostasy either: “Surely (as for) those who believe then
disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in
disbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them in the (right) path”
[4:137]. The Quran sanctions death penalty for murder and other
horrendous crimes, not apostasy: “You shall not kill any person - for GOD has
made life sacred - except in the course of justice. If one is killed
unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice” [17:33]. One
also finds the following in the Quranic text: “For this reason did We
prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it
be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he
slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive
all men” [5:32].

However, the Shariah law condemns the apostate to death. One finds
striking similarity between this barbaric provision with the Biblical
prescription: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely
be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as
well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth
the name of the LORD, shall be put to death” [Bible, King James
Version, Leviticus 24:16].
There are many other incongruities between the Islamic scripture and
the Shariah code. As for example, while the Quran prescribes 100 lash as
punishment for adultery, the Shariah sanctions stoning to death for
both the adulterer and adulteress, in accordance with the Old Testament.
The Shariah with all its variations and contradictions has created
problems both for Muslims and non-Muslims in Muslim-dominated as well as
other countries in our times. The term “Shariah” evokes bad memories
among its victims as well as opponents who want the abolition or drastic
reforms of this Draconian code. Our experience tells us that Shariah is
inherently prejudicial to women, non-Muslims and freethinkers and that
its language, spirit and above all, execution, go against the spirit,
ideals and teaching of Islam. However, ironically the mullahs, who are
supposed to be the upholders of the ideals of Islam, have been the main
promoters and defenders of Shariah which stands in contravention of
human rights, decency and civilized behavior.
The collective ignorance of the Muslim community combined with the
vested interests of many Muslims is sustaining this incongruous Shariah
code. The Muslim community in Afghanistan and beyond can replace this
absurd, outdated un-Islamic code of Shariah with a liberal and modern one
only through collective efforts of the members of the civil society,
human rights groups, intellectuals and liberal politicians. They need to
educate both the mullahs and ordinary Muslims with regard to the
obscurantist aspects of the Shariah. The core of the problem is political. So,
only social reformist agenda by a few cultural groups will not be able
to resolve the issue.

However, this arduous task requires global support from the UN agencies
to the various human rights organizations, liberal democratic
governments and donor-driven development agencies and NGOs. The West must call
the shots not by demonizing Islam, Prophet Muhammad and the
not-so-monolithic Muslim community or by selective condemnation of the anti-Western
“Islamic” countries such as Iran and Sudan. Violation of human rights
in any form in “Islamic” countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt or
Bangladesh, despite their pro-Western foreign policies, should become a
global concern. With UN sponsored sanctions, and if required, military
interventions as taken against the rogue Serbian regime in the early
1990s, the terror of Shariah may be contained and eliminated eventually.

The Afghan President’s assurance to the West that his government is not
going to yield to the pressure of the blood-thirsty mullahs who want to
kill Abdul Rahman for apostasy is but an isolated act of redemption,
not an outright victory against Shariah and barbaric obscurantism in the
name of Islam. We have a long way to tread to get human rights and
dignity for all the victims of Shariah in Afghanistan and beyond.

Posted - Sunday, March 26, 2006  -  10:55 AM Reply with quote
As-Salaamu Alaikum.

The debate of killing an apostate will continue unless we Muslims realize that there is a fundamental difference between the first addressees and the later generation of any Rasool.

Posted - Monday, March 27, 2006  -  8:46 AM Reply with quote
Well All readers r Requestd to SEE the Following Link too on the topic: The Punishment of Apostasy (Sep 2002 Issue)


Renaissance CONTENTS September 2002 Vol. 12 No. 9
Editorial Islamic Punishments: A Fresh Insight Shehzad Saleem

Feature Article The Penal Law of Islam
1. Muharabah and Spreading Disorder
2. Murder and Injury
a. Intentional
b. Unintentional
3. Fornication
4. Qadhf
5. Theft Javed Ahmad Ghamidi/
Shehzad Saleem

Reflections Islamic Punishments: Some Misconceptions
a. The Punishment of Drinking
b. The Punishment for Apostasy
c. The Capital Punishment
d. The Jail Punishment Javed Ahmad Ghamidi/
Shehzad Saleem
What is Diyat? Javed Ahmad Ghamidi/
Shehzad Saleem
The Law of Evidence Javed Ahmad Ghamidi/
Shehzad Saleem

Posted - Monday, March 27, 2006  -  7:39 PM Reply with quote
You may also read this:


It discusses the different interpretations by scholars.

Posted - Monday, March 27, 2006  -  10:27 PM Reply with quote
and this


Posted - Wednesday, March 29, 2006  -  10:44 AM Reply with quote
Salaam all
Surely this debate hinges on as simple principal that: If you accept hadith books as an integral part of Islam then there is no other option but the the death penalty in this case. If the judgement is based on Quran then punishment, in this world, whether death or another is not even an issue.

Posted - Wednesday, March 29, 2006  -  6:43 PM Reply with quote
I heard on NPR last night that Abdul R has been cleared of the conviction. The judge ruled that his sanity be checked, it is clear that if the apostate is not causing any Fitnah (trial and tribulation) in the Ummah, then his excecution is not mandatory

Posted - Wednesday, March 29, 2006  -  7:44 PM Reply with quote
We should ask ourselves are we going to follow some hadith that contradicts the Quran and give the hadith more authority than the Quran, or are we going to follow the Quran?

If we forget the Quran and just follow some hadith that no one can verify, then this kind of stuff happens. In the past, treason was state was tantamount to apostasy, so the punishment for both was death. Even today many countries have death as punishment for treason. That is quite understandable, but does not apply to apostasy.

Posted - Thursday, March 30, 2006  -  9:16 AM Reply with quote

As a muslim why? give authority to anything which contradicts the Quran. Giving religious status to sayings from other than the Quran contradicts the Quran itself and does that not equate to same as idol worship?

Edited by: Ibrahim on Friday, March 31, 2006 6:07 AM

Posted - Thursday, March 30, 2006  -  7:23 PM Reply with quote
Unfortunately that is what most muslims do today. The look at the Quran through the distorted magnifying glass of the Hadith, and result is they get a crooked interpretation. What we should do is look at the Hadith with the perfect magnifying glass of the Quran. Then we can sort out which Hadith is contradicting the Quran.

Posted - Thursday, March 30, 2006  -  9:22 PM Reply with quote

Valid point. Unfortunately the problem you then have is:
(a)If a hadith contradicts the Quran you know where it belongs.
(b) Hadith confirms what is stated in the Quran-then that begs the question what is the purpose of that hadith.
(c) Hadith saynig can neither be confirmed or be refuted by the Quran. then how can you trust that hadith, since you know there are hadith which not only contradict the Quran but each other as well.


Edited by: Ibrahim on Friday, March 31, 2006 6:10 AM

Posted - Thursday, March 30, 2006  -  10:55 PM Reply with quote
I was thinking about this too.

I think in case b, the hadith serves to elaborate or give more details. I think we should use such hadith to extract details and explainations since it does not contradict the holy Quran.

For case c, I would be very suspicious of them, and consult other scholars first.

Edited by: Ibrahim on Friday, March 31, 2006 6:11 AM

Posted - Friday, March 31, 2006  -  10:25 PM Reply with quote

For case c, I would be very suspicious of them, and consult other scholars first

And which sholars might these be: Sunni, Shia, Whabi or an other?.

Posted - Saturday, April 1, 2006  -  12:55 AM Reply with quote

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