25 November, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile

mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

e-mail this to a friend printable version

» 04/07/2006
Even Muslims debate the justice of executing apostates
by N. Russell Sandifer

The case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who converted to Christianity and was subsequently condemned to death, is not only further proof of differences prevailing between the West and Islam; it is also sparking a debate within Muslim society itself.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) – To kill or not to kill those who leave Islam for another faith? A survey carried out in Yemen revealed that even imams do not all share the same views on the matter, even if the majority is for the death penalty. Still less convinced are Muslim businessmen and professionals, university students, and the head of the largest Islamic party in the Opposition, Mohammed Qahtan, who is persuaded that no Yemenite is in the same position as Rahman.

What is the status of the current Yemeni law regarding Muslim apostates?

MQ: The law currently reads in such a way that Muslim apostates should be killed; however, in practice this law is not enforced in our country.

Do you personally support this law?

Frankly, no. I am astonished at the teaching of so-called scholars who maintain that the apostate should be given three days to repent of his so-called 'crime' and then be executed upon refusal to do so. People who believe such things are stuck in time and need to wake up to modernity.

So, since you disagree with the current law, is it your purpose to change the law if your party were to take office?

Actually, we haven't even considered the issue.

Why not?

It's irrelevant to the present realities in Yemen. The truth is that we don't have any cases of that sort right now and we have many other pressing problems that are of greater concern.

But Imam Khaled in Sana'a, one of the scholars with whom Qahtan would disagree, has no doubt that apostasy is a crime in Islam punishable only by death.

Do you think that Abdul Rahman should be granted amnesty and allowed to live freely as a Christian?

IK: No. He has committed a heinous crime against Allah and against the umma [Islamic society] and deserves to be killed.

Does the Qu'ran give any clear indication that such a person should actually be killed?  

No! However, the Hadith or sayings [of the prophet] transmitted to us by Abu Dawud and Bukhari provide sufficient explanations for how to deal with the issue. One of the prophet's sayings recorded by Bukhari, for example, says: 'Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.' Besides, no sane Muslim would ever leave the Islamic faith anyway.

So would you say that Abdul Rahman is insane?

Yes. He must be."

By contrast, among the business and professional sectors of the Yemeni society, interviewees were much more open-minded and progressive in their responses. Each of them explained very simply that there is no foundation in the Qu'ran or in the Islamic tradition for killing Muslims who convert to other religions. One of these qualified his explanation, saying: "The apostate should be killed only if he represents some kind of physical threat to the Islamic society. That was the sense of the Hadith on the subject. The teaching in Islam to kill apostates, therefore, refers only to those who would change their religion and then become spies or take up arms in the cause of the enemy."

Among university students, the issue was hotly debated. Some defended Abdul Rahman's right to change religion by quoting a Koranic verse which states that "there is no compulsion in religion" (Sura 2:256). Another group of students denounced this interpretation by arguing that the verse in no way defends a Muslim's right to apostasy but only that no one should be forced to change his religion. This latter group contended that several other Hadiths of the prophet, like the ones mentioned by the imam, clearly command that apostates like Abdul Rahman be killed.

To counter this point, the first group argued that the Qu'ran should supersede any supposed sayings of the prophet which have been recorded in the Sunna.

In any case, it is clear that the apostasy debate, like the cartoon controversy, is not merely being waged between the Muslim world and the West, as some would contend, but also within Islamic societies themselves—as the battle for religious freedom goes on and on.

e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
03/22/2006 AFGHANISTAN
Government says justice must decide Christian convert's fate
04/06/2005 iran
Iran, a Christian convert to face death penalty for apostasy
07/06/2011 IRAN
Mystery shrouds fate of Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy
11/02/2005 YEMEN
Death threats against opposition politician
03/29/2006 ISLAM
Islam humiliates religious freedom of Christians and human rights of Muslims. It's time for change
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj

Editor's choices
Paris Massacre highlights the failure of Muslim integration in Europe
by Catherine FieldThe attack in the heart of France highlights the crisis of Europe’s model of coexistence. Social unrest, poverty and marginalisation feed youth extremism and radicalisation. A New Zealander journalist, expert on expertise in religion and interfaith dialogue, talks about it after undertaking a journey through the French Muslim world.
For Nîmes imam, Islam should not be held hostage by extremists
by Hochine DrouicheFrench imams condemn the Paris terrorist attacks and disassociate themselves from violence committed in "the name of our religion." At the same time, they ask Muslim communities to dare leading a life of dialogue and friendship with Europeans, without fear or arrogance. For centuries, Muslims have ruled out reason from their religious life. The vice president of French imams bears witness.
AsiaNews marks 12 years: Persecution and hope
by Bernardo CervelleraDespite a worldwide increase of ignorance, indifference and superficiality, many signs of love and hope resist even in the most gloomy situations: the Iraqi mother who gives birth to her child in a refugee camp and smiles even though she has nothing; the Indonesian Muslim mother who blesses her son who became a Christian and a priest; the Chinese Christian families that welcome children thrown away because of the one-child law.


Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.