Reply to the Misconception about Departing Islam

Fourth: The punishment enunciated in Islam to the person, who chooses to depart Islam as a way of life, is an violation against human rights. Human rights ensure the freedom of religion to all people. Besides, such punishment contradicts the statement of Qur'ân, as the Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'ân Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:256 the meaning of which is translated as:“ Let there be no compulsion in religion”

The reply:

Islamic Shari'ah enunciates this punishment to the person who turns his back to Islam as a way of life and reject its laws and regulations, based on the Hadith, the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that states:“ It is unlawful to kill a Muslim except for committing one of the three crimes, (1) A married man or woman, who commits [proven] adultery. (2) When killing another Muslim. (3) When turns one's back to Islam [rejecting it publicly as a way of life and attacking it openly] and turn away from it and from the Islamic community”[107].

Moreover, it is based on the Hadith the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):“ Whosoever changes [rejects Islam as a religion and way of life] kill him”.

However, we should take the following two points into consideration concerning the person who rejects Islam as a faith and way of life:

The killing of an apostate of Islamic faith implies such persons who deny and attack Islam openly and publicly. Such apostate is equivalent to an internal revolution within the Islamic society. If such a person confines his apostate to himself, and does not proclaim, he is left to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) knows best who believes and who rejects the faith. Muslims can only base their judgements, sentences, and apparent matters and leave the realties to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

A person who rejects the Islamic faith may be given a chance for three consecutive days to return to the fold of Islam. Matured Islamic scholars must sit with him and explain to him the major sin he is committing against his own soul, his family and the community. If this person returns to the fold of Islam he will be let free. If not he will be executed. Killing such an apostate is, in reality, a salvation for the rest of the society members.

Declaring a rejection against Islam is unacceptable in Islamic Shari'ah because he is not honoring his commitment to his faith. If a person does not keep his commitment to Islam he is looked as worse than a non-Believer in the first place. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'ân Sura al-Nisa (The Women), 4:137 the meaning of which is translated as:“ Those who believe, then reject Faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject Faith, and go on increasing in unbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them on the way”.

Rejecting Islam as a way of life amounts to a malicious propaganda against Islam. Furthermore, rejection of Islam is also a disgrace to the Islamic society and the immediate community where the apostate lives. Such rejection will discourage people for joining Islam as a way of life. The example of rejecting Islam indicates that the person who joined it was only testing it, but was not serious about his commitment to this way of life. Therefore, this rejection will tend to attack Islam and attempt to rebel from within. Therefore, such a punishment was prescribed, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) knows best.

Islam, on the other hand, wants the apostates of the religion of Islam to take this matter very seriously and take their time to study it fully. They are requested to research, evaluate and seriously examine all the aspects of Islam as way of life prior to joining it and committing to its rules and regulations. If this reverting happened voluntarily it is well and good. If not, then, such a severe punishment will not give any slim chance to those who would like to play around and experiment with Islam.
Moreover, Islam does not treat rejection of the faith as a personal matter. Rejecting Islam as a way of life is not a change to the religion of the apostate only, but rather it is a rejection of the entire system. Such rejection will, surely, harm and injure the entire system and not the apostate only. As pointed earlier, Islam looks at this rejection as a nucleus for an internal revolution and evil instigation in the society. Islam does not accept nor condone such an evil practice that leads to mischief and confusion in the society. In fact, this is very similar even to modern political system, which treat any coup-de-tat or other activities to overthrow an existing regime or government as illegal activities. Furthermore, such revolutionary activities against government are taken very seriously and the participants are killed, exiled or imprisoned. In fact, such dissidents of the political system maybe psychologically or physically tortured, or the personal wealth of these individuals are confiscated. Further, the family members and/or the relatives of such person of the political system are also subjected to the harassment.