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Sunday, May 25, 2014

'There should be no compulsion in religion'

Mariam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag is a Christian who is facing the death penalty in Sudan for the crime of apostasy. Mariam claims that she never was a Muslim, bur raised as a Christian from her childhood. I admire her courage for standing firm on her faith and refusing to bow to the immense pressure she has been put under by the Sudanese authorities. I also hope that the judicial system in Sudan sees some sense and drops all charges against her. Whoever she choses to marry regardless of her faith or that of her husband is no business of the state.

This judgment is inhumane, un-Islamic and beyond doubt, an insult to the Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

As always, such incidents generate a lot of media attention, and rightly so. Thankfully there are people in this world who give their time and energies for the sake of freedom and human rights. But sadly there are also those who take this as an opportunity to push ahead with their anti-Islam agenda under the cover of protest.

According to Elizabeth Kendal, a Canberra-based Christian rights activist, the death sentence for Mariam Yahya is in accordance with Islam and must be condemned as Islam's 'inherent inhumanity'. She further states that the real reason for the exponential growth of Islam is due to its apostasy laws.

The article in question also makes some fantastic assumptions about Islam.

Lets begin with her comment on the Quranic verse 13:15.

'And to Allah prostrates whoever is within the heavens and the earth, willingly or by compulsion, and their shadows [as well] in the mornings and the afternoons.'

According to Kendal, this verse is the evidence that Quran supports compulsion in the matter of faith.

The particular passage of Quran in question is describing the Majesty of God. i.e., everything in the universe follows the laws He has created, just like the shadows which submit to the movement of the sun in the mornings and in the evenings. There is no mention of apostasy here.

In fact, Quran does not deal with any worldly punishment for people who abandon their faith in Islam.

There is an unequivocal commandment in the Holy Quran 'There should be no compulsion in religion' (2:256) which should remove any doubts about the Islamic position on this matter.

But Kendal finds another concept in the Quran which proves that the Sudanese court is following the true Shariah.

She states that apostasy is equal to 'Fitnah' which according to the verse 2:217 is worse than killing. This surely means that apostates must be killed.

Lets start with the word 'Fitnah' first. According to this verse, Fitnah is

'but to hinder men from the way of Allah, and to be ungrateful to Him and to hinder men from the Sacred Mosque, and to turn out its people therefrom..'

i.e., stopping Muslims from performing pilgrimage and declaring war on them is the 'Fitnah'.

Thus, Fitnah clearly means Persecution.

The verse further states that 'and persecution (Fitnah) is worse than killing.’

And what of the persecutors, the Meccan chiefs who had vowed to finish Islam and a handful of its followers? The verse continues,

'And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith, if they can.'

And what happens to any apostates?

'And whoso from among you turns back from his faith and dies while he is a disbeliever, it is they whose works shall be vain in this world and the next. These are the inmates of the Fire and therein shall they abide.'

i.e., their fate rests is with their Lord in the afterlife. No worldly punishment has been recommended for them whatsoever. In fact the verse guarantees them the freedom to live out their life in disbelief.

Kendal then tries to use the next source of Islamic jurisprudence, the Hadith, sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to prove that he founded a totalitarian religion which should be feared by the world.

For example she quotes a Hadith, '
"Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him'
Firstly, the narration is highly dubious and has been rejected as weak or even fabricated by many scholars, and secondly the Hadith in question has been mistranslated by inserting the word 'Islamic' which doesn't exist in the original text. One argument which has been used to dismiss this narration as a fabrication is that if it the commandment was taken based on the actual text, no one would be allowed to change their faith. i.e., a person converting to Islam would deserve death as much as someone apostasizing from Islam.

There is no sound basis for any penalties for apostasy in Hadith literature. Many jurists and classical scholars have made the error of equating apostasy with treason and declaration of war; an error which should have been rectified long time ago. But thanks to the medievalist regimes that still exists in many Islamic countries, we find ourselves lamenting the plight of human rights there almost on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, the scattered and disconnected leadership of the orthodox sects of Islam is still busy pushing the Muslims back into the dark ages. Such judgements against religious freedom only expose their insecurities about their own faith and its place in the modern world. It is astonishing to see them openly contradicting the clear commandments of the Quran and the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

But people like Kendal are also guilty of misleading their readers about their own religious texts and the skeletons (often stoned to death) hidden in them. Unlike the Quran which allows complete religious freedom, the Bible is very clearly against such notions.

For example Deuteronomy says;

'but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God'
Many Christians may object to this as not applicable to them anymore, but St. Paul wasn't so fond of apostates himself. He condemned them to death too, and the Church complied gladly for many centuries.

What the contemporary orthodox Islam is suffering from is the same malaise which the medieval Christianity suffered for a long time; a departure from the source of guidance and the politicization of religion. If anything, such punishments are only the artefacts of Judeo-Christian ideas which seeped into the Islamic thought during the early centuries of Muslim expansion.

I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which has been striving to correct such errors for more than a century. Under the guidance of the Khalifatul Masih, Ahmadiyya Muslims are working tirelessly to educate not only their fellow Muslims, but other communities as well, about the true and peaceful message of Islam.

I advise Elizabeth Kendal to seek the correct information about the real message of the Quran and help the persecuted Christians like Mariam by putting forward a logical and forceful argument against those transgressors who claim to follow Islam. There is nothing more logical and forceful than the Word of God.

'There should be no compulsion in religion'.

Further Reading: Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, by Sir. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan

1 comment:

  1. Absolute nonsense. Most of the people who believe in the the deal penalty for apostasy are Muslim, not those with an "anti-Islam agenda" and your blog should be targeted at them.



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