The Point of No Return
By Abdullah Al Araby
For fourteen centuries, Muslims were able to conceal some of their most outrageous teachings from the rest of the world. Their deceptions were hidden behind language, cultural and geographic barriers. Modern technology and new communication methods have made it difficult for Muslims to hide the dark side of Islam any longer. Muslim advocates, especially in the West, are now faced with the tough task of explaining the discrepancies between how they want Islam perceived as a tolerant, civil and peaceful religion; and the realties of some of its basic tenets, which are quite the opposite. They’re finding it hard to maintain the façades and to simultaneously remain faithful to the harsh doctrines that are essential to the practices of authentic Islam.
Damage control has become one of their main objectives in modern societies. It’s not unusual for various types of contradictions to happen as they do so. This was recently demonstrated by some rulings made by Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt. He is Egypt’s superior authority in charge of issuing official fatwas (Islamic religious rulings).
Ali Gomaa issued a wide range of opinions on critical issues of Islam such as Jihad, women’s status and the right of Muslims to change religions. News agencies around the world published them in multiple languages. In regard to a Muslim’s right to renounce Islam and to join another religion that is called apostasy, his initial rulings sounded lenient. The Washington Post-Newsweek forum in English was one of the forums that published his decisions.
Here are excerpts from what he said on the issue of apostasy:
“The essential question before us is: Can a person who is a Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is yes, they can, because the Quran says, ‘Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion,’ (Quran 109:6) and, ‘Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosever will, let him disbelieve,’ (Quran18:29) and, ‘There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is distinct from error’ (Quran 2:256).”
He added, “These verses from the Quran discuss a freedom that God affords all people. But from a religious prospective, the act of abandoning one’s religion is a sin punishable by God on the Day of Judgment. If the case in Question is one of merely rejecting faith, then there is no worldly punishment.” He went on to state, “If, however, the crime of undermining the foundations of the society is added to the sin of apostasy, then the case must be referred to a judicial system whose role is to protect the integrity of the society…..According to Islam, it is not permitted for Muslims to reject their faith, so if a Muslim were to leave Islam and adopt another religion, they would thereby be committing a sin in the eyes of Islam. Religious belief and practice is a personal matter, and society only intervenes when that personal matter becomes public and threatens the well-being of its members.”
My first reaction to these statements was that I thought they were balanced and reasonable. I had hopes that Islam was softening its extreme attitudes towards those who leave Islam. It seemed that the Grand Mufti was emphasizing that Muslims do have the freedom to change religions. He emphatically implied that such matters are personal, between man and his Creator. He also asserted that although such conversions are sinful, that God, rather than man, would enact the punishments in the Day of Judgment. He only cited one exception. It would be in instances wherein a person’s conversion to another faith had the potential to undermine the foundations of a society. In such cases he suggested that the courts should get involved to settle the issue. Although I was concerned about that exception, I dismissed it as unimportant. I couldn’t imagine how a person switching religions could be interpreted as an act that could undermine the foundation of an entire society.
My hopes were soon shattered. A few days later, the Grand Mufti, issued another statement. This time he was speaking in Arabic in Cairo and what he said was completely different: “What I actually said was that Islam prohibits a Muslim from changing his religion and it’s a crime that must be punished.”
It was then that I realized that we had all been fooled, again. The Muslim strategy of only speaking half-truths was still alive and well. What is being said in places like Washington to English speaking groups is almost simultaneously retracted and rendered meaningless when they speak in Arabic in places like Cairo. What was originally presented as simply a rare and remote possible exception had become the general rule. Changing religions from Islam to another faith is interpreted as an act of apostasy. The Islamic mindset dictates that such apostasies can undermine the foundations of Muslim societies.
It’s difficult for non-Muslims to understand how a personal decision to change one’s religion by one Muslim or even hundreds could undermine an entire Islamic society. And, assuming that it could, would denial of the facts change anything? Apparently the grand Mufti thought so. However, he must have imagined that he achieved both of his goals. On one hand, it was to polish Islam’s image in the West; and on the other, he spoke the truth about Islamic polices in the Islamic world.
The only way that Islamists like the Mufti can continually get away with such deceptive maneuvers is for us to allow them to do so. There must be clarity about Islam’s consistent track record of doubletalk about thorny issues such as this one. Non-Muslims really need to know the truth about just what constitutes apostasy in the Muslim world.
One of the most popular tactics that Muslims utilize to promote their religion is quotes from the portions of the Quran that Mohammad wrote while he headquartered in Mecca during the first years of Islam. In that stage of Islam’s development it was weak in numbers and influence. At that time he was trying to win the support of the Arabs by peaceful means. His attitudes and strategies completely changed after he moved to Medina. There his movement gained numbers and he was able to organize a strong army and to impose his religion by force. In order to cover the contradictions between the tone of the verses written in Mecca and those written in Medina, Mohammad came up with the doctrine of the abrogator and the abrogated. It nullifies the Quran’s Meccan revelations and replaces them with those of Medina. When Islamists quote the Mecca verses that sound peaceful and conciliatory they know full well that those verses have been rendered obsolete by the more recent Medinian verses. Here are some examples of the Mecca verses that they use:
Say : O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way, and to me mine Sura 109: 1-6
Say, “The truth is from your Lord“: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces, how dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on! Sura 18:29
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things . Sura 2:256
What do the Quran and Hadith really teach about Apostasy?
In the Quran
Most Quranic references deal with how God looks on apostates and how he is going to punish them in the Day of Judgment. The first verse has an indirect inference about apostasy, but nonetheless is used by Muslims as a basis for punishing apostates
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, 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: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Sura 5:33
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. Sura 3:90
Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty. Sura 16:106
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 nor guide them on the way. Sura 4:137
In the Hadith
Ibn Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever changes his (Islamic) religion, kill him.” Al-Bukhary (number 6922)
Abd-Allah ibn Masood said: The Messenger of Allah said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, except in one of three cases: a soul (in case of murder); a married person who commits adultery; and one who leaves his religion and separates from the main body of Muslims.” Sahih Al Bukhary number 6484 and Sahih Muslim number 1676
How Does Islam Deal with Apostates?
An Apostate in Islam is a Muslim who rejects Islam after being either born into it or after embracing it as a convert from some other religion. An apostate is looked upon as worse than an infidel who has never professed faith in Allah and Mohammad as his prophet or in any way practiced Islam.
Apostasy in Islam is equal to treason. In Islam, politics and religion are inseparably intertwined. A famous fundamental expression in Islam says it all, “Islam is a religion and a state.” It is obvious that treason within Islam has spiritual and cultural dimensions. It does not write-off the public rejection of its fundamentals as merely private matters of personal preference in regard to religion. Such actions are viewed as bad influences on Islamic societies as a whole that could escalate into widespread seditions. That is why they deal with it so harshly.
Apostasy within Islam can encompass thoughts of the heart, words spoken and deeds. An example of apostasy of the heart would be most anything that might indicate disbelief in the supremacy of Allah. Associations with any deities such as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and claims that such possess divinity that parallels that of Allah would be apostasy by the heart. Apostasy of the tongue would be any words that question the authenticity of the Quran and the tenets of Islam. Serious infractions such as praying to idols, treating the Quran in a casual/disrespectful manner and ceasing to recite one’s 5 daily prayer sessions can be quickly deemed as apostasy by deeds.
There are a few types of situations in which Muslims would not be counted as liable for rejecting the faith. Ignorant mistakes, misunderstandings about Sharia Law and instances of coercion to renounce Islam would fall into this category. The principle of Al Taqeyya makes the provision that any Muslim, who renounces Allah and/or his prophet Mohammad to preserve his own life, is not guilty of apostasy. Such is solely permitted in situations wherein the Muslim was giving lip service as opposed to the true feelings of his heart. (See Sura 16:106)
Islam has two forms of apostasy; the ordinary and the extreme. The ordinary pertains to situations in which the perpetrators did not intend to bring harm and insults to Islam. Under such circumstances most schools of Muslim jurisprudence would give the guilty person three days to express repentance. Those who fail to do so can incur severe punishments including imprisonment, torture and execution. Those who are charged with extreme apostasy aren’t given opportunities to express repentance. There is no waiting period for anyone who is indicted for purposely attempting to bring harm or insults to Islam, the Quran, and Mohammad. We have heard of people executed by family members, Islamic city councils and through the auspices of National Religious-State Islamic governments. In recent years there have been reports of the aforementioned executions from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Afghanistan. Unquestionably, some have been carried out secretly in Western democracies.
The various sects within Islam normally have similar policies about the severity of verdicts for female apostates as they would for men. The only difference would be that Shafiites, Malikites and Hanbalites would punish the woman exactly as they punish the man; she would be given 3 days to repent or be executed. However, the Hanafites would be more lenient. They would permit a woman to serve out her sentence through life in prison until she either comes to repentance or dies.
This article has stated the truth about what Islam teaches about apostasy. It has said things that you will never hear about from moderate Muslims. Many inquiring souls in the West venture into Islam. Such people naively think that there is no harm in trying it out to see whether or not it is a religion that suits them. They presume it’s easy in and easy out. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Islamists are very deceptive about the matter. They claim that there is freedom of religion in Islam. When you press them on the issue they say that people are free to join Islam or not. But, do people have the same freedom to leave Islam, if they later discovered that this is not what they wanted? The answer is clear; people have the right to either reject or accept Islam when it’s initially presented but it is practically impossible to get out of Islam without putting one’s own life at risks.
Falling for the Muslim activists’ deceptively persuasive sales pitches to experiment with Islam by becoming a Muslim can be disastrous. Two similarly pronounced Arabic words explain it all. In Arabic it is said that the right to accept Islam is Makfoula, (meaning: guaranteed.) The “K” in that word is pronounced exactly like the English “K” from the tongue and frontal area of the mouth. There is another word, Makkfoula, that is used for those who want to exit Islam. It means denial to do so. The double “KK” is pronounced in Arabic from the throat. That word is closely akin to the Arabic word used for closing a door shut. That is precisely what happens to anyone who is either born a Muslim or naively converts to become one and then attempts to leave the faith. The door is closed and locked behind them, so that they cannot leave without being indicted for the crime of apostasy.
There is no easy in and easy out policy with Islam. Let all beware. It’s like a steel trap; once you’re in, there is no getting out.