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Chapter-4: Apostasy & Killing

Shari’a & Western Law:

Sharia Law is misused to justify killing for alleged apostasy by Takfeeris. In classical form, the Shari’a differs from Western systems of law (based on Roman Law) in two principal respects. In the first place the scope of the Shari’a is much wider, since it regulates man's relationship not only with his neighbors and with the state, which is the limit of most other legal systems, but also with his Allah and his own conscience. Ritual practices, (ibadat) such as the daily prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage, are an integral part of Shari’a law and usually occupy the first chapters in the legal manuals. The Shari’a is also concerned as much with ethical standards as with legal rules, indicating not only what man is entitled or bound to do in law, but also what he (obligatory) ought, in conscience, to do (halal), something that is lawful and permitted in Islam, or refrain from doing (haram)  not permissible.  Accordingly, certain acts are classified as praiseworthy (mandub), which means that their performance brings divine favour and their omission divine disfavour. There is an other category not halal or haram but some thing doubtful, classified a Undesirable (makruh), it is divided into Makruh Tahrimi "that which is nearly unlawful without it being actually so," and Makruh Tanzihi "that which approaches the lawful or undesirable yet is closer to the lawful." For example  it is undesirable (makruh) for a person to buy back what he has given in charity (sadaqah, or zakat), or "to wish for one's death, or pray to Allah for it, due to poverty, distress, illness, or the like. However in neither case is there any legal sanction of punishment or reward, nullity or validity.
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Killing: The Heinous Crime and Cardinal Sin:

The killing of innocent people is a major crime & sin in all the civilized societies and religions. According to the Bible: “He who kills a man shall be put to death.”(Leviticus; 24:17). Allah says in Qur’an: “You shall not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;17:33). Offenses against the person, from homicide to assault, are punishable by retaliation (qisas), the offender being subject to precisely the same treatment as his victim. But this type of offense is regarded as a civil injury rather than a crime in the technical sense, since it is not the state but only the victim or his family who have the right to prosecute and to opt for compensation or blood money (diyah) in place of retaliation.
The punishment fixed for major crimes (also sins) is hadd Outside the hadd crimes, both the determination of offenses and the punishment therefore lies with the discretion of the executive or the courts. While the execution of punishments is strict,  highest standards of fairness, justice, evidence and clemency are applied in establishing the (hadd), but once the crimes is established the punishment is carried out without any compassion as evident from Ahadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah: A woman from the tribe of Makhzum committed theft. She was brought to Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) and she sought intercession from Umm Salamah, the wife of Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him). Thereupon Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said: By Allah, even if she were Fatimah [daughter of the Prophet (pbuh) ], I would have her hand cut off. And thus her hand was cut off.(Sahih Muslim Hadith.786).
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Apostasy; The Kernel of Takfeeri Doctrine:

Proper understanding of ‘apostasy’, the root of Takfeeri doctrine [a much later deviation, bid’at] will highlight the heinous blunder of killing innocent Muslims [men women and even children] in mosques and public places. The Arabic word ‘Irtadad’ is translated as ‘apostasy’. According to Merriam Webster dictionary ‘Apostasy’ means; renunciation of a religious faith; abandonment of a previous loyalty. Hence ‘apostate’ (murtad) is a person who has defected his (Islamic) belief. [may be called as betrayer, deserter, recreant, renegade, tergiversator, traitor or turncoat]. 
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Apostasy has always been considered as a capital offence in all the religions and political systems of the world, because it is considered as a high treason against the established norms of society. The Bible prescribes death by stoning for apostasy: “You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God..”(Deutrony;13:10). The pagan Romans brutally killed the early Christians on same ground. Subsequently this practice was repeated by the Christian Church against opposing Christians, who were killed and burnt alive. Death penalty for apostasy remained in force in England for long time. It was abolished due to social and cultural developments.
Islam abhors forced conversions, the non Muslim citizens in a Muslim state have the right to freely choose to convert to Islam or keep practicing their faith. But once a person converts to Islam, he is obliged to practice his faith to be a good Muslim. In early Islam, the pagans of Makkah, and Jews of Medina used to indulge in this practice (apostasy) to gain intelligence and to demoralize the fragile expanding Muslim community of Median. Hence apostasy is considered as a cardinal sin in Islam. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars. Some believe that the apostate should be punished after trial because they consider this crime as a betrayal, high treason against the community, while others opine that if someone changes his faith and does not challenge the Islamic society, it is a matter between him and Allah, Who will punish him in hereafter. However, both opinions agree that it is a major worst form of sin punishable by Allah. Non-Muslims enjoy complete freedom to preach and practice their faith among themselves.
The apostate are cursed and condemned in Qur’an, however the path of repentance remains open, but those who do not repent and die as apostate, they will be punished in hereafter. Allah says:
“How shall Allah guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Messenger was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? But Allah guides not a people unjust. Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse of Allah, of His angels, and of all mankind; In that will They dwell; nor will their penalty be lightened, nor respite be (Their lot). Except for those that repent (Even) after that, and make amends; for Verily Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. But those who reject Faith after They accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith, never will their repentance be accepted; for They are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray.”(Qur’an;3:86-90).
“As for those who accept the faith then renounce it, who again embrace it and again deny it and go on increasing in unbelief; Allah will neither forgive them nor guide them to the Right Way.”(Qur’an;4:137).
“and if any of you turn back from their Faith [yartadd] and die In Unbelief, their works will bear no fruit In This life and In the Hereafter; They will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.”(Qur’an;2:217).
“Those who turn back as apostates [irtaddo] after Guidance was clearly shown to them the Evil One has instigated them and buoyed them up with false hopes.”(Qur’an;47:25).
“O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from His Faith[yartadd], soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love As They will love him..”(Qur’an;5:54)
According to an other Hadith, killing of Muslim is only permissible under three conditions: Narrated by Abdullah; “Allah's Apostle said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas [retribution] for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims”[Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith;9:17].
It may be kept in view that the authority to declare any Muslim as apostate or award of punishment is the job of Islamic courts established by the legitimate state authority. Various stateless groups if allowed to take the law in their hands will result in anarchy (fasad-fil-ardh) through killing each other by declaring opponents as apostate or nonbelievers. Waging war against Allah, His messenger and to strive for mischief through the land (fasad-fil-ardh) is a crime punishable with death, crucifixion, cutting of hand and feet from opposite sides or exile, as clearly mentioned in Qur’an;5:33.
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Not Offering Prayer (Salah) & Apostasy:

To suggest that a person who does not pray for three days be sentenced to death and executed straight-away is absurd, contrary to the teachings of Islam and is based upon ignorance. Imam Abu Hanifah maintains that a person who fails to offer Salah, is not to be killed, but must be given a minor punishment and confined until he prays. They say the hadith that calls such people unbelievers refer to those who deny the prayers (salah), (disbelieve) [Fiqah-As-Sunnah;1:77b]. They say that any other interpretation is contradicted by other texts.
Some scholars argue that a person who does not pray is a non-believer. If he was a Muslim and then reached that stage, then some people argue, he became an apostate and apostasy may incur capital punishment. But this line of thinking is not much different from the one which leads to the following conclusion:

‘What is white is milk; eggs are white, so egg is milk!’
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Scholars have distinguished between two types of disbelief: The first is concerned only with what a person believes in or denies while the second one, relates to action or lack of it. All scholars unanimously agree that if a person denies something, which is essentially known as an integral part of the Islamic faith, he is a disbeliever [i.e. five pillars of faith]. If we are to apply this principle to obligatory prayers [salah], we say that if a person claims to be a Muslim and denies that prayers are part of Islam, or says that it is part of it but not necessarily in the number or the manner which the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught, then he is a disbeliever. If his denial has come shortly after he had been a Muslim, then he is an apostate. In a Muslim state, an apostate is given a fair hearing before Muslim judges who may order that scholars should come and explain to him the Islamic faith and argue with him about his beliefs. If he insists on maintaining his apostasy, he is given three days to recant. If he does not, then he may incur the capital punishment.

It may be pointed out that this is not a simple case, but a very complicated one. To start with, the person concerned should have publicized his beliefs, which are contrary to Islam in a way, which is likely to undermine Islamic society. If he keeps his beliefs to himself, nobody will question him about them [no one will know it]. When he is questioned about them, every opportunity is given to make him realize his mistake. Scholars of the highest caliber are brought to argue with him. In the end, if he is so stubborn, he is sentenced, but given three days to recant. He can easily escape punishment by publicly saying that he has renounced his erroneous beliefs.
It may be kept in view that a Muslim government is not at all interested in discovering who is following the right faith and who has funny ideas. It does not follow people into their homes to discover what they actually believe in. Islam granted the basic human right of individual privacy, 1400 ago once such freedom and personal liberty was unthinkable in any society:  “O believers! Avoid immoderate suspicion (guesswork), for in some cases suspicion is a sin. Do not spy on one another, nor backbite one another (to say something about another behind ones back that if one hears it, dislikes it). Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely you would abhor it. Fear Allah; for Allah is the Accepter of repentance, Merciful.” (Qur’an;49:12). The implementation of these injunctions by Caliph Omar is a good example of moderation in implementation of rule of law. On night Omar, the second Caliph, during his routine night watch hear some singing sound form a house. He climbed up the wall and found a man with wine and a woman. He asked him that how he could hide such immoral violation of commands of Allah? The man replied that the Caliph has already violated three command of Allah; first by spying on a believer (Qur’an;49:12), secondly, by not entering a house through door (Qur’an;2:189), and thirdly by entering the house without permission of the owner (Qur’an;24:27-28). The Caliph had no answer and had to leave quietly however he took a promise from him not to indulge in such immoral activates in future. Not even the most civilized governments can grant such a freedom to their citizens even in this present era of civil liberties and human rights. Hence, a person may entertain the most preposterous thoughts and beliefs, without having any fear that anyone will question him about his ideas. The principle is clearly stated: "No compulsion is admissible in matters of faith."(Qur'an;2:256). The Prophet said, "I have not been ordered to look into the hearts of people, nor to rip open their bellies." (Abridged from al-Bukhari and Muslim).
If a person who has much deviant ideas starts to publicize them and calls on others to share his beliefs, he is actually starting a rebellion against the very fabric of Islamic society and its basic concepts. His action is likely to result in division and conflict. When this happens, Islam moves to nip such a detrimental offshoot when it is still in the bud. Its method is to give the person concerned every chance to stop his seditious action. To escape punishment, that person need not do more than to state that he withdraws his earlier statements, even if he still believes in them in his heart. What Islam achieves by this is to stop the act of sedition, which could cause public disorder. If the person still maintains his ideas but keeps them to himself, no one is going to bother about him.


The other type of disbelief is that which relates to action, or the lack of it. Certain actions of disobedience to Allah have been described by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as actions of disbelief. A person who is guilty of any of these is questioned about his actions and the Islamic position is explained to him. If he has committed an act of disobedience for which a particular punishment is prescribed by Allah and this is proven either by the testimony of the required number of witnesses or by free confession, then the punishment is carried out. No authority can stop it. In the case of a person who does not pray, there is no prescribed punishment, though he is committing a cardinal sin.