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Is Apostasy a Capital Crime in Islam?

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I. Introduction

In Islamic legal discourse, the term used to describe apostasy is Riddah, an Arabic term which literally, means defection or backsliding1. In the context of Islamic jurisprudence, this Islamic legal term describes the action whereby an adult Muslim denounces Islam as his or her faith. There has been a wide variety of opinions by Muslim scholars throughout nearly fourteen centuries concerning punishment for apostasy. The majority upheld that apostasy is a capital crime as it threatens the integrity and stability of the Muslim community and state. This paper aims at critically evaluating these views in the light of the Qur’an and Hadeeth.2 The paper begins with a few remarks about the methodology of research, and then examines related evidence from the two primary sources of Islam; the Qur’an and authentic Hadeeth. It also discusses briefly actions attributed the companions of Prophet Muhammad [P] after him and concludes that there is no conclusive evidence to sustain the claim that apostasy in itself is a capital crime.

II. Methodology

When examining and evaluating such breadth of diverse opinions on this topic or any other topic relating to Islamic jurisprudence, it is critical that a clear and sound methodology is employed. Over the centuries, Islamic jurisprudence developed its own methodology for the analysis and assessment of juristic reasoning, a profound discipline known as “ ‘Ilm Usool Al-Fiqh” 3 or Principle of Islamic Jurisprudence. Without delving in its intricacies, a few general rules are fundamental and may be summed up and highlighted as follows:
1. Actions of Muslims, whether or not they are claimed to be in the name of Islam or in the name of God are not to be equated with normative authentic Islam. It is the later that is the criterion of evaluating such actions and to judge whether they are consistent with it or not and to what degree.
2. Normative authentic Islamic teachings are based in the first place on its supreme source; the Qur’an which is, to Muslims, the verbatim word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad [P] 4. The Qur’an has been preserved intact since its revelation and in the original language in which it was revealed. Next to the Qur’an is Hadeeth, sometimes used interchangeably with the term Sunnah5. Hadeeth is defined as the words, actions and approvals of the Prophet [P], in the context of understanding and implementing Islamic teachings6. In the case of Hadeeth, due care must be given to the degree of its authenticity.

With this hierarchy of sources, we can begin our enquiry with the first critical question; is there is any reference in the Qur’an to capital punishment for apostasy.

III. Evidence from the Qur’an

Categorically, there is not a single verse in the Qur’an which prescribes an earthly punishment for apostasy. Verses about apostasy in the Qur’an speak only about God’s punishment of the apostate in the Hereafter. Following are two examples:
“ …[your enemies] will not cease to fight against you till they have turned you away from your faith, if they can. But if any of you should turn away from his or her faith and die as a denier [of the truth] – these it is whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the life to come; and these it is who are destined for the fire, therein to abide” 7 2:217
“Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the truth, and again come to believe, and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth - God will not forgive them, nor will guide them in any way” 4:137.
It is notable in the above verse that had the Qur’an prescribed capital punishment for apostasy, the apostate would have been killed after the fist instance of apostasy. As such there would be no opportunity to “ again come to believe and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth” . It is also notable that in spite of these acts of repeated apostasy described in the above verse, capital punishment is not alluded to nor is it prescribed or sanctioned as a morally or legally valid consequence of apostasy.8
The silence of the Qur’an on any prescribed mandatory capital punishment for apostasy is quite revealing. More revealing is the fact that there is overwhelming evidence in the Qur’an of freedom of conscience, belief and worship. Following are a few examples:
“And say [O Muhammad]: ‘the truth [has now come] from your Sustainer: let, then, him or her who wills, believe in it, and let him or her who wills, reject it” 18:29
“There shall be no coercion in matters of faith…” 2:256
“ And so, [O Prophet] exhort them; your task is only to exhort. You can not compel them [to believe]” 88:21-22
“ Thus, [O Prophet] if they argue with you, say, “ I have surrendered my whole being unto God, and [so have] all who follow me’ – and ask those who have been vouchsafed revelation aforetime, as well as the unlettered people, ‘Have you [too] surrendered yourselves unto Him?’ And if they surrender themselves unto Him, they are on the right path; but if they turn away – behold, your duty is no more than to deliver the message: for God sees all that is in [the hearts of] His creatures” 3:20
These and many other verses in the Qur’an are consistent with its depiction of the human as a free agent empowered to make his or her own choices as long as these choices do not involve violating the law or committing a crime. The verses are also consistent with the meaning of Islam based on the etymology of the word: to attain peace with God, inner peace and peace with all the creation of God [humans, animals, vegetation and natural resources] through willing and voluntary submission to God and accepting His grace and guidance in one’s life. It is inconceivable to attain that peace if any person is forced or coerced to become a Muslim or to remain a Muslim against his or her free will. It is also inconceivable to say “Yes, no one is forced to become a Muslim, but once he or she accepts Islam willingly, it is forbidden to reject it”. Such an argument under whatever excuse or justification is inconsistent with the many conclusive verses in the Qur’an on freedom of belief which is above all an inner feeling of acceptance and conviction. If indeed, capital punishment is prescribed for mere individual apostasy, then it is one of the most serious forms of “coercion” in religion, a clear and conclusive violation of freedom of conscience which is expressly forbidden in the Qur’an. Furthermore, the fear of such assumed punishment may lead many to hypocrisy; by pretending to remain Muslims just to save their lives. In the final analysis and from an Islamic perspective, hypocrisy is a greater danger to the community than apostasy in itself. Hypocrites may implode the Muslim community from within while posing as Muslims.
More inconceivable yet, is the argument that the verse “ There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” [2:256] was abrogated. This verse is one of many other verses that affirm the principle of free choice in the matter of personal belief. As such to claim that 2:256 was “abrogated” implies that all other similar verses are abrogated too. What is more significant, however, is that any claim of Naskh [abrogation or more correctly supersession] must be carefully examined. The entire Qur’an is definitively authentic and well preserved intact [Qat‘i Al-Thuboot]. Any claim of Nashk must be definitive also and not based on mere opinion or speculation. Al-Suyooti quotes Ibn Al-Hassar “It is not acceptable, in the matter of Naskh, [to accept] statements of the interpreters of the Qur’an, not even the Ijtihad [reasoning] of those engaging in Ijtihad without authentic reports or clear evidence since Naskh involves removal of a ruling and affirming of [another] ruling which occurred during the lifetime of the Prophet and what is acceptable in that matter is the narration and history not opinion or Ijtihad” 9 While a few scholars claimed that dozens of verses of the Qur’an were abrogated, the majority of scholars rejected that claim. The famous scholar of the sciences of the Qur’an, Jalal Al-din Al-Suyooti narrowed the number of abrogated verses to 19 verses. Other scholars like Shah Waliyyullah Al-Dahlawi and Sobhi Al-Saleh narrowed them down to lesser numbers10. None of these verses mentioned by Al-Suyooti, Al-Dahlawi or Al-Salih are claimed to abrogate the verses prohibiting coercion in religion. A basic principle of Islamic jurisprudence is that the Qur’an can only be abrogated by the Qur’an or by a direct, highly authentic and explicit evidence based on the Prophet’s teachings.
It is abundantly clear that there is no conclusive evidence, indeed no evidence at all exists in the Qur’an to sustain the claim that the apostate should be executed on the sole ground that he or she apostated11. However, absence of evidence in the Qur’an, though central to the thesis that apostasy is not a capital offence, is insufficient by itself to prove the validity of this position. The next critical question is whether there is a conclusive evidence in Hadeeth prescribing capital punishment for the apostate. This issue is discussed next.

IV. Evidence from Hadeeth

Hadeeth is defined as the actions, words and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad [P]. As noted before, authentic Hadeeth is the second primary source of Islam after the Qur’an. The crucial questions that need to addressed are:
a. Is there any report of apostasy that took place during the lifetime of the Prophet?
b. What is [are] the degree [s] of authenticity of such report [s]?
c. If there are such authentic reports, was the Prophet [P] in a position to implement and enforce the Law?
d. How did the Prophet [P] deal with such case [s], in the form of action or words?
e. How are the actions and words of the Prophet [P] to be interpreted keeping in mind a number of widely accepted rules including that no Hadeeth may be interpreted in a way that genuinely contradicts the Qur’an or for that matter contradicting a more authentic Hadeeth.. Following are answers to these questions combined.

There are a few reports alleging that The Prophet [P] ordered the killing of a few apostates who refused to repent. However, all such reports were deemed weak [unauthentic] by scholars of Hadeeth. For example, the famous scholar Muhammad Al-Shawkani [died in 1255 after Hijrah] explains there are problems with their Isnad [chain of narration] and thus they are not reliable, especially in a serious matter such as capital punishment12. None of these reports were narrated by earlier and far more reliable sources of Hadeeth such as Bukhari and Muslim.
More significant is the fact that a case of apostasy was reported in the most authentic book of Hadeeth [Bukhari] narrated by more than one reliable chain of narration [with stronger Isnad]. Following is the translation and discussion of the most central Hadeeths that deal with the issue of apostasy and which are frequently quoted by the proponents of capital punishment for the apostate.

The Fist Hadeeth:
Jabir Bin Abdullah narrated that a bedouin pledged allegiance to the Apostle of Allah for Islam [i.e. accepted Islam] and then the bedouin got fever whereupon he said to the Prophet [P] “cancel my pledge.” But the Prophet [P] refused. He [the bedouin came to him [again] saying, “Cancel my pledge.” But the Prophet [P] refused. Then he [the Bedouin] left [Medina]. Allah’s Apostle said “Madinah is like a pair of bellow [furnace]: it expels its impurities and brightens and clear its good.” 13
Some have argued that may be the man in question wanted to be relieved of his oath [Bay‘ah] not to leave Madinah. This argument lacks any support textual or otherwise. In fact the wording of this particular Hadeeth clearly indicates that the subject of the oath [Bay‘ah] was to willingly accept Islam. Thus his request to be relieved form that oath meant that he wanted to apostate. This incident took place in Madinah when Muslims were living in an independent Islamic “state”, where the Prophet [P] had full authority to implement Shari‘ah law. If indeed the “revealed” prescribed punishment for apostasy is death, the Prophet [P] would have been the first to mete it. In fact, he did not even prescribe any punishment at all against that bedouin, nor did he send any one to arrest this “apostate”, imprison him and ask him to recant or even reconsider his decision as later jurists prescribed. Nor is there any solid ground to claim that this and other similar Hadeeths were “abrogated”. In fact, these Hadeeths are in conformity with the Qur’an and consistent with its central value of freedom of conscious and rejection of any compulsion in matters of faith [2:256].
What happened in the above instance is compatible with one of the conditions of the “Treaty of Hudaybiyah”, which the Prophet [P] accepted. That condition was that if a Muslim who migrated to Madinah to join the Muslim community there under the leadership of the Prophet [P] wished to apostate and go back to his or her idolatry, the Prophet [P] had to let him go back to Makkah. It is true that this happened before the final victory over the Makkans and the Prophet’s victorious return to Makkah. However, one would have expected the Prophet [P] to refuse this condition so as to be able to punish any such potential apostate [s]. It is interesting to note that some scholars who argue for capital punishment for apostasy justify their position by citing the apparent imperative of safeguarding the Muslim community and its political entity from disintegration and defection from the faith. Such justification would have been more relevant at the time the prophet readily accepted that condition of the treaty of Hudaybiah since Muslims were even more vulnerable and still relatively insecure.
The above Hadeeth and similar ones are of the highest degree of authenticity and reliability and are also quite clear. As such, they should be kept in mind when we examine other authentic Hadeeths on the topic.

The Second Hadeeth:
Abdullah narrated that Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that there is no God but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits adultry and the one who reverts from Islam (apostates) and leaves the [Muslim] community.” 14 This Hadeeth has been interpreted in more than way. The Prophet speaks here of three capital crimes, the third of which is apostating and parting with the [Muslim] community. If mere apostating and parting peacefully with the Muslim community without committing any act of treason against them justifies the death penalty, then why did the Prophet [P] let the man in the fist Hadeeth cited above go unmolested? Would that show that parting with the community refers to coupling apostasy with joining the enemies who were at war with Muslim at that time? . The argument that apostasy itself is an act of treason since Islam is also a religious and political entity is questionable on several grounds. First, the Qur’an decrees that all people of other faith communities who are peacefully co-existing with Muslims must be afforded just and kind treatment [Qur’an; 60:8-8]. They should not be coerced or pressured to accept Islam against their will. If a Muslim chooses to apostate, hurtful as it may be from a Muslim perspective, then the relevant question is whether or not such apostasy is coupled with other crimes against the state. Even more elemental is whether an individual private apostasy is itself a punishable offense [in Arabic Jareemah]? And if it is an offense it is an offense which purely against God [in which case it is God who will hold the person accountable in the Day of Judgment], or whether it is automatically considered a capital offense to be punished here on earth regardless of the particulars of any specific situation. The issue of whether apostasy is coupled with other punishable offense is critical. This inquiry is not meant to trivialize the possible, even likely harms to the Muslim community or Islamic state that apostasy alone might generate. Nor does it intend to ignore the possible effect of morale of the public in Muslim cultures. In his article in Islamonline, 15 Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi powerfully and eloquently speaks of these problems and harms especially when seen among the masses of Muslims today as part of their commonly perceived Western assault on Islam and Muslims, militarily, politically, economically, socially and even religiously. However, in the same Muslim communities there are those who still claim to be Muslim while waging war on Islam and its peoples. Dr. Al-Qaradawi calls it “an intellectual apostasy” 16. Yet such more dangerous, destructive and propagated “apostasy” goes unpunished.
One version of this second Hadeeth quoted above is quite revealing and may help answer these questions. ‘Aisha, the Prophet’s wife narrated that the messenger of God 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: a married man who commits adultery; he is to be stoned and a man who went out fighting against God and his Messenger; he is to be killed or crucified or exiled from the land and a man who murders another person; he is to be killed on account of it” 17. Following are few comments on this Hadeeth:
1. This version is quite similar to Bukhari’s version above with respect to two categories of capital crimes; adultery and premeditated murder of an innocent person. However, the third category in Bukhari’s version is described here more explicitly as “fighting against God and His Messenger” an act that is inconceivable to be committed by a Muslim and is a clear indication of apostasy as the Hadeeth deals with one who is a Muslim in the first place.
2. The expression used in this version of the Hadeeth is identical to the expression used in the Qur’an : “The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: this is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” 5:33. This verse and hence the description in this Hadeeth do not relate to apostasy itself but to “Hiraabah” or organized crime involving murder,
armed robbery and other act that terrorizes the public. It is up to the court to determine the type of punishment suited to the degree of gravity of their offenses. It is a reasonable conclusion as such that the third category mentioned in the Bukhari’s version refers to apostasy coupled with these other crimes some of which are capital crimes. This was regarded as a viable possibility by Ibn Taymiyah. 18

The Third Hadeeth:
Ibn Abbas narrated the Prophet said “Whoever changed his religion, then kill him”. 19 This Hadeeth is perhaps the most quoted one by those who are of the view that apostasy is a capital crime. This argument could have been more convincing if this were the only Hadeeth on this topic. It raises a number of questions as to how it may be interpreted in view of the following:
1. The absence in the Qur’an of any earthly punishment for apostasy in spite of its mention in many places in the Qur’an.
2. The consistent and repeated affirmation of freedom of conscious and freedom of faith and worship in the Qur’an.
3. The Hadeeths in Bukhari discussed earlier that shows the Prophet [P] himself did not mete any punishment on the man who apostated in Madinah and subsequently left it.
4. There is no authentic Hadeeth that the Prophet [P] meted any capital punishment for apostasy during his lifetime.
5. As Dr. El-Awwa observes, the expression “kill him” does not necessarily mean a mandatory command. 20 In fact, one of the basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence is that the command verb could mean a mandatory command [such as prayers, Zakah and fasting]. It could refer to an optional act [like optional night prayers]. It could also mean permissibility of an act and several other meanings. It is the presence of corroborating evidence or lack thereof that determines the proper contextual meaning. In the light of the evidence discussed above, the Prophet’s command here seems to refer to the permissibility of capital punishment, when apostasy is coupled with a capital crime such as waging war against the community.
6. Dr. Al-Qaradawi suggests another possible meaning of this Hadeeth: “..there is another possibility; that Omar’s opinion is that when the Prophet [P] said “whoever changes his religion, then kill him’, the Prophet [P] said that in his capacity as the leader of the community and head of state and that this was one of the executive decisions by the authorities [one of the actions that falls within Al-Syaasah al-Shar‘iyyah] and not a religious verdict [Fatwa] or transmission [of a verdict] of God which is binding on the Ummah [Muslim community] at all times and everywhere and under all circumstances.” 21 This indicates also that punishment for apostasy, if any [as the Prophet himself did not mete to the man who apostated and left Madinah], is not a mandatory fixed punishment [Hadd]. Other evidence to that effect was elaborated on by Dr. El-Awwa. 22

The Fourth Hadeeth:
To justify capital punishment for the apostate, some refer to more than one version of a Hadeeth pertaining to an incident that happened during the Prophet’s life. A group of people from ‘Ukal and ‘Urainah came to Madinah and accepted Islam. Subsequently they apostated , killed and tortured a Sheppard [other version say sheppards] and mutilated their bodies. The Prophet ordered their arrest and they were executed. 23 The question here is whether they were killed because of apostasy or because of their brutal murder of innocent people. It appears certain that it was the later reason.

V. References to Actions and Interpretation of the Companions of the Prophet [Al- Sahabah] and the following generation [Al-Tabe‘een]
Included in the books of Hadeeth are actions of the Prophet’s companions which constitute either their explicit statements of what the Prophet said or their actions which are presumed to be based on what they learned from the Prophet [P]. While the place of consensus [Ijamaa‘] of the Prophet’s companions as a source of Islamic Shari‘ah has been debated, it is a valid source especially if there are other supporting evidence. However, the Prophet’s direct words and actions are of higher authority since only the Prophet was the recipient of revelations in matters of faith.
A few Hadeeths refer to incidents where Ali, Mu‘adh and Abu Musa meted capital punishment to those who apostated. In one instance Mu‘dh was quoted as saying that this [punishment] is the judgment [Qadhaa’] of God and his messenger. Referring to these incidents, however, may not give a conclusive evidence of a mandatory capital punishment for the following reasons:

1. The prophet [P] himself did not mete that punishment in any authentic Hadeeth. His action takes priority.
2. Other authentic Hadeeths relating to punishment has been interpreted differently as detailed above.
3. It is possible that when a companion like Mu‘adh say “this is the judgment of God and His messenger”, he was expressing his interpretation of the verses and Hadeeths cited above.
4. As Drs. Al-Qaradawi and El-Awwa suggested, these reports of capital punishment were not mandatory but executive decisions based on their particular circumstances, a matter that varies considerably with time and place, and not a Fatwa “religious verdict” that is “binding on the Ummah [Muslim community] at all times and everywhere and under all circumstances. 24

It is notable that a famous companion, Omar, was disappointed when he learned that an apostate was killed. When asked what he would have done he suggested that the apostate should have been detained and given an opportunity to reconsider his decision. He did not speak of any time limit, which may negate the notion of mandatory capital punishment. The same view was held by two of the generation of “Tabi‘een” , namely Ibrahim Al-Nakh‘I and Sufian Al-Thawri. Some scholars argue that the apostasy in the early days of Islam was in the context of security and war situation. For example, Jamal Al-Banna suggest that: “the notion of apostasy it the time of the Prophet [P] was coupled with animosity against Islam and waging war against it. So, one who believed in him [the Prophet] was endeavoring to support him, and one who apostated was endeavoring to wage war against him and join the idolatrous folk”. 25 He then gives an example the case of Abdullah Ibn Abi Al-Sarh who accepted Islam, then apostated and then went to Makkah to instigate the tribe of Quraish to fight against the Prophet [P]. A similar view was expressed by Shaikh Abdul-Majeed Subh. 26

V. Conclusions:
1. The preponderance of evidence from both the Qur’an and Sunnah indicates that there is no firm ground for the claim that apostasy is in itself a mandatory fixed punishment [Hadd], namely capital punishment
2. References to early capital punishment for apostasy were not due to apostasy itself but the other capital crime [s] that was coupled with it.
3. In the context of the besieged early Muslim community, apostasy was a major threat to the nascent Muslim community. Taking a passive attitude towards it would have jeopardized the very emergence of the Muslim community. This may be one reason why the consensus of scholars is that apostasy is an offense [in the context of an Islamic society] is an offense. However, there wide divergence of views about its suitable punishment.
4. As religious opinions [Fatwas] change with the changing time, place, custom and circumstances, this issue should be re-examined within the basic boundaries of Islamic jurisprudence and not simply of pressures of others. No Muslim is required to change the indisputable stable and fixed aspects of Shari1‘ah for the sake of pleasing others or earning the title “moderate” or “open minded”. In the meantime, Fiqhi rulings and interpretations in the non-fixed area need not be permanent either.
5. Some principles of Islamic jurisprudence [Islamic legal theory] may be helpful in any such endeavor. This includes the following:
A. Considering “ Ma’alaat al-Af‘aal” or considering the results of adopting a particular interpretation. Even if an act was permissible or desirable but could cause harm to the cause of Islam, it should be avoided. For example, The Prophet [P] was keenly conscious of the imperative of safeguarding the name of Islam and its reputation. When it was suggested to him that Abdullah Ibn Abi Salool should be killed because of the divisive and subverting role he played in Madinah, the Prophet answered that he feared that people will say that “Muhammad is killing his companions”.
B. Weighing harms and benefits of a particular act since there is no sense to do some good if that results in greater harm.
Applying these rules in our contemporary world where the setting is vastly different from the past, a few pertinent questions are:
A . Would the insistence on a particular view, common in Muslim jurisprudence heritage as it may be, really enhance the reputation of Islam and Muslims and correct the already severely blemished unfair image?
B. Just as the Prophet [P] and early Muslims considered the context of their times in non-fixed matters [Thawaabit] shouldn’t our scholars today do the same?
C. Whatever opinion is held, as Dr. Al-Qaradawi and others suggest, a great deal of caution must be exercised when dealing with any alleged apostasy case as there are many legal consequences of apostasy pertaining to family law in Islam. benefit of doubt must be given and only those in legitimate authority and knowledge may deal with such situation as no one is allowed to take the law in their own hands.

If there is anything in this paper that is correct, it is only by the Grace of Allah and because of what we leaned from our scholars for whom I have great love and respect even though I am not one of them. If there is anything that is erroneous, it is only from me and I seek Allah’s forgiveness for it. If there some who disagree with these preliminary reflections, there is no offense in engaging in brotherly and objective dialogue with the prayer that Allah [SWT] may show us all the truth and help us to act upon it. The last of our prayer is; all grace is due to Allah.

ENDNOTES
1. Baalbaki, Rohi, Al-Mawrid: A modern Arabic-English Dictionary, Dar El-Ilm Lilmalayin, Beirut, 15th Edition, 2001, P.582.
2. Hadeeth is defined as the actions, words and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad [P].
3. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, see Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1991
4. [P] Stands for “peace be upon him”, a formula commonly used by Muslims to invoke prayers of peace whenever a name of a prophet is mentioned.
5. While some scholars argue that there are fine differences between “Hadeeth” and “Sunnah”, the majority of scholars consider the two terms to be interchangeable. For more details on this, see Al-Salih, Sobhi, Ulum Al-Hadeeth Wa-Mostalahoh [in Arabic], Dar El-Ilm Lilmalayin, Beirut, 13th Edition, 1981, PP. 3, 11.
6. For the distinction between the legal Sunnahl [al-Sunnah al-Tashri‘iyyah]
and non-legal Sunnah , see Kamali, op. cit., pp. 50-57. See also Al-Saleh,
Sobhi, Mabaahith Fi ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an, Dar Al-‘ilm Lilmalayeen, Beirut,
14th Ed., 1982, pp. 34-35
7. Translation of the meaning of the Qur’an was based mainly on Muhammad Asad’s The Message of the Qur’an, Dar Al-Andalus, Gibraltar, 1984. Some minor adjustments were made by this author for greater clarity.
8. For other verses on apostasy, see 3:62; 86; 90, 5:57, 9:75, 16:106 and 47:25.
9. Al-Suyuti, Jalal Aldin, Al-Itqaan Fi `Ulum Al-Qur’an, Al-Halabi, Cairo, 4th printing, 1978, Vol. 2, p. 32.
10. See Al-Saleh, Sobhi, Mabaahith Fi `Ulum Al-Qur’an, Dar Al-`ilm Lilmalayeen, Beirut, 14th ed., 1982, pp. 272-274.
11. Some may argue that in the Qur’an [9:74] speaks of God’s punishment in this life and in the hereafter. However, both the textual and historical context of this verse deals with the hypocrites not the apostates. In spite of their lack of faith, hypocrites continue to claim that they are believers and do not declare that they “apostated”. The basic rule is to accept hypocrites’ claim [of faith] and leave it to God to punish them in his own way, in this life and the life to come.
12. Al-Shawkani, Muhammad Bin Ali, Nayl Al-Awtaar, Dar Al-Jeel, Beirut, 1973, Vol. 8, pp.2-3.
13. Sahih Al-Bukhari [translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan], Maktabat Al-Riyadh Al-Hadeethah, Riyadh, 1982, Vol.9, Hadeeth # 316, pp. 241. Similar Hadeeths narrated by other chains of narration include Hadeeths # 318, P. 242; #323, P. 246.
14. Al-Asqalaani, Ibn Hajar, Fat-h Al-Bari Bisharh Sahih Al-Bukhari [in Arabic], Edited by M. Abdul Baaqi and M. Al-Khateeb, Dar Al-Rayyan Lilturaath, Cairo, 2nd Printing, 1987, Vol.12, Baab Al-Diyaat, Hadeeth # 6878, P. 209, translated by this author.
15. http://islamonline.net/English/contemporary/2006/04/article01c.shtml - updated April 14, 2006.
16. Ibid
17. Al-Azdi, Abi Dawood Sulaiman [died 275 A.H.], Sunan Abi Dawood [in Arabic] , Edited by M.M. Abdul Hameed, Al-Maktabah Al-Asriyyah, Beirut, No date, Vol. 4, Hadeeth # 4353, P. 126, translated by this author.
18. Islamonline, op. cit.
19. Sahih Al-Bukhari, op. cit., Vol.9, Hadeeth # 57, p. 45
20. Islamonline, op. cit.
21. Islamonline/Arabic page. Translated by this author.
22. Ibid.
23. Sahih Al-Bukhari, op. cit., Vol.8, Hadeeths # 794, 795, 796, 797, pp. 519-522.
24. Islamonline, op. cit.
25. Islamonline/Arabic page. An article by Jamal Al-Banna, Translated by this author.
26. Islamonline, op. cit.