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On Apostasy and Islam: 100+ Notable Islamic Voices Affirming the Freedom of Faith - Part 8


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

By Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq

April 2, 2007

108.   Muhammad Ridzwan Rahmat

[Editor, Ewadah.Com]

"Islam is a religion that has never been forced upon. The very idea that a conversion into Islam is one Way Street in which one can never turn from is a much dissipated myth. The Quran prohibits Muslims to force Islam onto an individual. Muslims past and present have largely converted into Islam out of their own free will. ... Again, no authority has been granted to Muslims to specifically kill the apostates of Islam should they mean no harm. Apostates are to be treated fairly as non-Muslims. Compulsion will not make sense in Islam." [Why Do Muslims Kill Apostates? A Muslim Explains]

109.   Professor Shah ul Hameed

[Consultant of the Discover Islam Section,; former Head of the Department of English, Farook College, Calicut University, India; President of Kerala Islamic Mission, Jama'at-e- Islami, Hind, Kerala Zone) Calicut, Indi]

"the Noble Qur'an does not prescribe death penalty for deserters of Islam, but rather states that they would be in Hell in the hereafter (2:217) ... the ruling was with reference to certain specific cases of miscreants who wished to undermine Islam, by joining Islam first and then deserting it. ... the killing of apostates would undermine the freedom of will Allah has bestowed on each human, as is made clear in the verses ..." [Apostasy, Polygamy, and Adultery]

110.   Riaz Hasan

[Former director of Outreach for the Tracy Islamic Centre, California, USA]

"Muslims have direct relationship with God. It is required that you inform others about your way of life (your faith); not pus(, not force. What a person does with the information is between the person and God. He or she will be answerable to God. It is not our job to judge, just to provide information and share with others what good we have." [Perceiving the Afghan Christian role]

111.   Ibrahim Abusharif

[Editor, Starlatch Press]

“It's important to note that apostasy rulings have rarely been used in the heyday of Islamic civilization, a ranging world conglomerate stretching from the western frontiers of China, [to] the Indian subcontinent, to North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and the western shores of Spain. There's absolutely nothing in the élan or sacred paradigms of Islam that makes a religious choice an anathema to Muslims. Not one reference in the Qur’an that refers to people leaving the realm of faith suggests the penalty of death.” [The Legal Tradition of Islamic Apostasy]

112.   Anwaar Hussain

[Columnist, PakTribune]

“In a screaming instance of a heart rending paradox in the Muslim world, an Afghan convert to Christianity is to be tried in a Kabul court for apostasy, a 'crime' that is punishable by death in that country. Despite clear injunctions in the Quran that "there is no compulsion in religion" and "to you your own religion and to me, mine", an innocent man may be executed while we stand by and watch this gruesome charade in the name of God. … Fortunately, some highly distinguished contemporary Islamic scholars based on renewed Ijtihad, hold absolutely differing views on the subject of apostasy. … The historic fact remains that the Prophet (PBUH) never put anyone to death for apostasy alone. No one was sentenced to death solely for repudiation of faith unless accompanied by certain other crimes. Those other crimes would have been punishable by death in any contemporary state of the time. As a matter of fact the Quran is completely silent on the question of death as a punishment for apostasy. Apostasy simply does not qualify for temporal punishment.” [In the Name of God]

113.   Organization: The Iraqi Women Leaders Conference

[A joint-project of the American Islamic Congress, the Foundation for the Defense of

Democracies and the Independent Women’s Forum]

"It is important to note that wine-drinking (shrub) and apostasy (Riddah) are not Hudud crimes and the Qur’an specifies no punishment for these two offences. Yet, Fiqh manuals have, erroneously, included shrub and Riddah in the category of Hudud." [Building and Planning]

114.   Inayat Bunglawala

[Media secretary at the Muslim Council of Britain. He is also a co-presenter of the weekly 'Politics and Media Show' on the Islam Channel (SKY 813)]

"To force someone to remain in a faith they do not believe seems rather absurd as it negates the whole basis of sincere belief and seems closer to officially endorsing hypocrisy.

There is a famous remark attributed to the 19th century Egyptian Muslim activist and scholar Muhammad Abduh who visited various European countries and said 'I have been to many Muslim countries and found many Muslims there, but little Islam. I have also been to some European countries and found few Muslims there, but a lot of Islam'." [Apostasy and Islam]

115.   Dr. Taj Hashmi

[Professor, Security Studies at the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii]

" ... 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." [Death for apostasy and Shariah]

116.   Ahmed Bedier

[an expert on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and the Mideast; Tampa, FL, USA]

"A couple of days ago I joined CAIR and others calling for his release. Alhamdulillah the Afghan authorities did the right thing by dropping this case that should never have been one in the first place. For over a week now news outlets reported that Abdul Rahman is facing the death penalty under Islamic Law for leaving Islam, however they failed to point out that this is not a unanimous opinion among all Muslim scholars. Also that there is not a single verse in the Quran that commands the killing of an apostate (a person leaving his faith)." [Afghan Court Drops Case against Christian Convert]

117.   Dr. S. M. Ghazanfar

[Ph.D. in Economics, 1968 (Wash. State University), University of Idaho faculty, 1968-2002]

"Arguments favouring death penalty for apostasy being a pre-modern Islamic law, based on dubious interpretations and weak Hadith references, the subject has made international headlines recently. And such issues further feed the prevailing Western Islamophobia hysteria. Freedom of religion is fundamental to Islam, mentioned in several verses of the Holy Qur'an ("Unto your religion, and unto me my religion," "Whosoever will, let him believe," "There is no compulsion in religion," etc.), clearly, the law of apostasy violates that fundamental principle (which, of course, accords with UN Universal Human Rights). It is about time the Islamic world formulates a fresh school of thought that reconciles Islam with the contemporary, modern world. Islamic intellectuals, indeed, facilitated European exit out of Dark Ages, and sometimes it appears the Islamic world is now reverting in that direction."

As a Muslim, do you believe in the freedom of faith, i.e., Islam is by choice?

To add your voice to this affirmation/statement, please send an email with your name, affiliation/occupation, highest degree/field, and country of residence.

Does the Imam or the leader of your community believe in the freedom of faith?

Ask him and encourage him to let the world know that Islam is by choice, not by coercion, by being a signatory to the Statement.


URL of Part 7: