5, Apostasy in Islam


Apostasy is the abandonment of a religion.

In Islam, a Muslim is not allowed to leave and embrace other religions. The  official penalty for committing apostasy in Islam is death by beheading. Let’s examine how horrific this religion is.

If a Muslim abandons Islam (irtidad) he/she becomes an apostate (murtad). Sunni and Shia Muslim jurisprudence schools of Hanafites, Malikites, Shafi’ites, Hanbalites and Jafaris agree that it is obligatory to kill a person whose apostasy against Islam is proven. The Ency. of Islam says it plainly, “In Fikh (jurisprudence), there is unanimity that the apostate must be put to death.” This ruling has been the accepted Islamic law for the last 1400 years.

The matters which constitute apostasy are divided into four categories:
(a) Apostasy in beliefs, such as associating others with Allah or by affirming that Allah has a son.
(b) Apostasy in words, such as insulting Allah or the Messenger.
(c) Apostasy in actions, such as throwing the Qur’an into a filthy place. Worshippings idol or to the sun or moon.
(d) Apostasy by omission, such as not doing any of the rituals of Islam, or turning away from following it altogether.

Qur’an 4:89 “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever you find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

Qur;an 4:89 “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So do not make friends with them, till they emigrate in the way of Allah. But if they turn back (from Islam), seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and do not take anyone of them as a friend or as a helper.”

Qur’an 5:33 “The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief (i.e Apostasy) in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.”

Q5:54 “O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He wills. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.”

Q8:21-24 “Remind them; you are surely a reminder. But whoever turns away and becomes a disbeliever; God will punish him with the greatest punishment.

Q3:85 “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).”

Q9:12 “And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease.”

Q9:66 “Make no excuses. You became disbelievers (by mocking at Allah and His Messenger) after you had professed Faith. If We forgive some of you (who repent and believe), We shall punish others (who carry on their hypocrisy), because they were guilty.”

Q3:56 “For those who reject faith and disbelieve, I will punish them with terrible pain in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will not have anyone to help.”

Q9:74 “They swear by God that they said nothing, but they indeed said the word of unbelief and disbelieved after they had embraced Islam, and plotted what they could not attain. And not they were resentful except that Allah had enriched them and His Messenger of His Bounty. So if they repent, it is better for them, and if they turn away God will punish them with a grievous penalty in this life and in the Hereafter. They shall have none on earth to protect or help them.

Q2:217 “(Muhammad), they ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Tell them that it is a great sin. However, creating an obstacle in the way of God, disbelief in Him and the Sacred Mosque, and driving away the neighbors of the Sacred Mosque is an even greater sin in the sight of God: Disbelief in God is worse than committing murder. (The pagans) still try to fight you to make you give up your religion. The deeds in this life of those of you who give up their religion and who die disbelievers will be made void and in the life hereafter. These people will be the dwellers of Hell wherein they will remain forever.”

Q16:106 – Anyone who after accepting faith in God, speaks unbelief, except under compulsion while their heart remaining firm in faith, yes those who open their breast to unbelief, on them is punishment from God, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty.

Q88:21-24 “So remind. You are only a reminder. You have no control over them. But whoever turns away and disbelieves, God will punish him with the greatest punishment, to us they will all return.

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 9, Book 83, Hadith 17
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 for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 260
Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ Hadith doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 9, Book 89, Hadith 271
Narrated Abu Musa: A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu’adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, “What is wrong with this (man)?” Abu Musa replied, “He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism.” Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle.

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith 57
Narrated Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 1, Book 4, Hadith 234
Narrated Abu Qilaba: Anas said, “Some people of ‘Ukl or ‘Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, they were put in ‘Al-Harra’ and when they asked for water, no water was given to them.” Abu Qilaba said, “Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle.”

-Apostates can be killed anywhere by anyone including Jews and Christians. There is a reward as well = Paradise
Sahih Bukhari – Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith 64
Narrated Ali: Whenever I tell you a narration from Allah’s Apostle, by Allah, I would rather fall down from the sky than ascribe a false statement to him, but if I tell you something between me and you (not a Hadith) then it was indeed a trick (i.e., I may say things just to cheat my enemy). No doubt I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, where-ever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.”

Sahih Muslim – Book 16, Hadith 4152
Abdullah (b. Mas’ūd) reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: It is not permissible to take the life of a Muslim who bears testimony (to the fact) that there is no god but Allah, and I am the Messenger of Allah, but in one of the three cases: the married adulterer, a life for a life, and the deserter of his Din (Islam), abandoning the community.

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 39, Hadith 4337
‘Ikrimah said: ‘Ali burned some people who retreated from Islam. When Ibn ‘Abbas was informed of it, he said: If it had been I, I would not have then burned, for the Messenger of Allah said: Do not inflict Allah’s punishment on anyone , but would have had killed them on account of the statement of the Messenger of Allah. The Apostle said: Kill those who change their religion. When ‘All was informed about it he said: How truly Ibn ‘Abbas said!

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 39, Hadith 4339
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: The Messenger of Allah said: The blood of a Muslim man who testifies that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle should not lawfully be shed except only for one of three reasons: a man who committed fornication after marriage, in which case he should be stoned; one who goes forth to fight with Allah and His Apostle, in which case he should be killed or crucified or exiled from the land; or one who commits murder for which he is killed.

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 38 (39), Hadith 4341
Narrated Mu’adh ibn Jabal: AbuMusa said: Mu’adh came to me when I was in the Yemen. A man who was Jew embraced Islam and then retreated from Islam. When Mu’adh came, he said: I will not come down from my mount until he is killed. He was then killed. One of them said: He was asked to repent before that.

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 39, Hadith 4342
Abu Burdah said: A man who turned back from Islam was brought to Abu Musa. He invited him to repent for twenty days or about so. Muadh then came and invited him (to embrace Islam) but he refused. So he was beheaded.

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 39, Hadith 4347
Jarir reported the prophet as saying: When a slave runs away and reverts to polytheism, he may lawfully be killed.

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 39, Hadith 4345
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: Abdullah ibn AbuSarh used to write (the revelation) for the Messenger of Allah. Satan made him slip, and he joined the infidels. The Messenger of Allah commanded to kill him on the day of Conquest (of Mecca). Uthman ibn Affan sought protection for him. The Messenger of Allah gave him protection.

Jami` at-Tirmidhi – Volume 3, Book 15, Hadith 1458
Narrated ‘Ikrimah: That ‘Ali burnt some people who apostasized from Islam. This news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, so he said: “If it were me I would have killed them according to the statement of Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever changes his religion then kill him.’ And I would not have burned them because the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of Allah.’ So this reached ‘Ali, and he said: “Ibn ‘Abbas has told the truth.”

Sunan an-Nasa’i – Book 37, Hadith 4053
It was narrated from ‘Aishah that: The Messenger of Allah said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim except in three cases: An adulterer who had been married, who should be stoned to death; a man who killed another man intentionally, who should be killed; and a man who left Islam and waged war against Allah, the Might and Sublime, and His Messenger, who should be killed, or crucified, or banished from the land.”

Sunan an-Nasa’i – Volume 5, Book 37, Hadith 4064 & 4069
Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: ‘Whoever changes his religion, kill him.'”

Muwatta Malik – Hadith 1410
Zaid b. Aslam reported that the Apostle declared that the man who leaves the fold of Islam should be executed.

Fatwa: Apostasy
The scholars of Islam are unanimously agreed that the verse “There is no compulsion in religion” [al-Baqarah 2:256] is not general in application and it does not include the apostate, according to scholarly consensus.
Ibn Hazm said: With regard to the words of Allah, may He be exalted, “There is no compulsion in religion” [al-Baqarah 2:256], that does not constitute evidence for them, because the entire ummah is agreed that this verse is not to be understood as it appears to mean; the ummah is unanimously agreed that the apostate who has turned away from his religion is to be compelled (to come back).

Fatwa: Apostasy
The punishment for apostasy from the religion of Islam is execution.
Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 21/234-231.

Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir – Volume 2, Page 168
The apostle of Allah entered through Adhakhir, [into Mecca], and prohibited fighting. He ordered six men and four women to be killed, they were (1) Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl, (2) Habbar Ibn al-Aswad, (3) Abd Allah Ibn Sa’d Ibn Abi Sarh, (4) Miqyas Ibn Sababah al-Laythi, (5) al-Huwayrith Ibn Nuqaydh, (6) Abd Abbah Ibn Hilal Ibn Khatal al-Adrami, (7) Hind Bint Utbah, (8) Sarah, the mawlat (enfranchised girl) of Amr Ibn Hashim, (9) Fartana and (10) Qaribah.

Murtad can be of two types: fitri and milli
1) “Murtad Fitri” was born a Muslim and later rejected Islam (Considered treason against God).
2) “Murtad Milli” has converted to Islam and later rejected Islam (Considered treason against Muslim Community).

Islamic Law schools’ views:
Hanafi – recommends three days of imprisonment before execution, although the delay before killing the Muslim apostate is not mandatory. Apostates who are men must be killed, states the Hanafi Sunni fiqh, while women must be held in solitary confinement and beaten every three days till they recant and return to Islam.
Maliki – allows up to ten days for recantation, after which the apostate must be killed. Both men and women apostates deserve death penalty according to the traditional view of Sunni Maliki fiqh.
Shafi’i – waiting period of three days is required to allow the Muslim apostate to repent and return to Islam. After the wait, execution is the traditional punishment for both men and women apostates.
Hanbali – waiting period not necessary, but may be granted. Execution is traditional recommended punishment for both genders of Muslim apostates.
Ja’fari – waiting period not necessary, but may be granted according to this Shia fiqh. Male apostate must be executed, states the Jafari fiqh, while a female apostate must be held in solitary confinement and beaten every day at the hours of the salah she repents and returns to Islam.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the most respected leaders of the Sunni world, recently said on Egyptian television, “If they [Muslims] had gotten rid of the punishment [often death] for apostasy, Islam would not exist today.”

2010 poll found that 76% of Pakistanis agree apostates are to be killed. In a country with a population of 172,800,000 (96% of whom are Muslim) that would be 126,074,880 individuals in a single country.

84% of Egyptians agree with the death penalty for apostates.

Wars of Apostasy/Ridda

Omission of duties

After the death of Muhammad, many Arab tribes revolted and apostatised from Islam. New Caliph Abu Bakr then launched a series of military campaigns knows as the “wars of Apostasy” against rebellious Arab tribes during 632 and 633 AD.

Military campaigns of Apostasy
The caliph Abu Bakr formed 11 main corps, each under its own commander. The 11 corps commanders and their assigned objectives were as follows:

1. Khalid Ibn Walid: Tulaiha bin Khuwailad Al-Asdee from Asad Tribe at Buzaakhah, then Malik bin Nuwaira, at Butah.
2. Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl: Confront Musaylima at Yamamah but not to get involved until more forces were built up.
3. Amr ibn al-As: The apostate tribes of Quza’a and Wadi’a in the area of Tabuk and Daumat-ul-Jandal.
4. Shurahbil bin Hasanah: Follow Ikrimah and await the Caliph’s instructions.
5. Khalid bin Saeed: Certain apostate tribes on the Syrian frontier.
6. Turaifa bin Hajiz: The apostate tribes of Hawazin and Bani Sulaim in the area east of Medina and Mecca.
7. Ala bin Al Hadhrami: The apostates in Bahrain.
8. Hudhaifa bin Mihsan: The apostates in Oman.
9. Arfaja bin Harthama: The apostates in Mahra.
10. Muhajir bin Abi Umayyah: The apostates in the Yemen, then the Kinda in Hadhramaut.
11. Suwaid bin Muqaran: The apostates in the coastal area north of the Yemen.

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 2, Book 24, Hadith 483
Narrated Abu Huraira: When Allah’s Messenger died and Abu Bakr became the caliph some Arabs renegade (reverted to disbelief) (Abu Bakr decided to declare war against them), `Umar, said to Abu Bakr, “How can you fight with these people although Allah’s Messenger said, ‘I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespassing the law (rights and conditions for which he will be punished justly), and his accounts will be with Allah.’ “Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the Zakat as Zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah’s orders) By Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah’s Messenger. I would fight with them for withholding it” Then `Umar said, “By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah opened Abu Bakr’s chest towards the decision (to fight) and I came to know that his decision was right.”

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 2, Book 24, Hadith 536
Narrated Abu Huraira: Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! If they (pay me the Zakat and) withhold even a she-kid which they used to pay during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger, I will fight with them for it.” `Umar said, “It was nothing but Allah Who opened Abu Bakr’s chest towards the decision to fight, and I came to know that his decision was right.”

Sahih Muslim – Book 1, Hadith 29
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that when the Messenger of Allah breathed his last and Abu Bakr was appointed as his successor (Caliph), those amongst the Arabs who wanted to become apostates became apostates. ‘Umar b. Khattab said to Abu Bakr: Why would you fight against the people, when the Messenger of Allah declared: I have been directed to fight against people so long as they do not say: There is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was granted full protection of his property and life on my behalf except for a right? His (other) affairs rest with Allah. Upon this Abu Bakr said: By Allah, I would definitely fight against him who severed prayer from Zakat, for it is the obligation upon the rich. By Allah, I would fight against them even to secure the cord (used for hobbling the feet of a camel) which they used to give to the Messenger of Allah (as zakat) but now they have withheld it. Umar b. Khattab remarked: By Allah, I found nothing but the fact that Allah had opened the heart of Abu Bakr for (perceiving the justification of) fighting (against those who refused to pay Zakat) and I fully recognized that the (stand of Abu Bakr) was right.

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 9, Hadith 1551
Abu Hurairah said When the Messenger of Allah died and Abu Bakr was made his successor after him and certain Arab clans apostatized. Umar bin Al Khattab said to Abu Bakr How can you fight with the people until they say “There is no God but Allah” so whoever says “There is no God but Allah”, he has protected his property and his person from me except for what is due from him, and his reckoning is left to allah. Abu Bak replied I swear by Allah that I will certainly fight with those who make a distinction between prayer and zakat, for zakat is what is due from property. I swear by Allah that if they were to refuse me a rope of camel (or a female kid, according to another version) which they used to pay the Messenger of Allah, I will fight with them over the refusal of it. Umar bin Al Khattab said I swear by Allah, I clearly saw Allah had made Abu Bakr feel justified in tighting and I recognized that it was right. Abu Dawud said This tradition has been transmitted by Rabah bin Zaid from Ma’mar and Al Zaubaidi from Al Zuhri has “If they were to refuse me a female kid.” The version transmitted by ‘Anbasah from Yunus on the authority of Al Zuhri has “a female kid”.

Jami’ at-Tirmidhi – Book 38, Hadith 2607
Narrated Abu Hurairah: said: “When the Messenger of Allah died and Abu Bakr became the Khalifah after him, whoever disbelieved from the Arabs disbelieved, so Umar bin Al-Khattab said to Abu Bakr: ‘How will you fight the people while the Messenger of Allah has said: ‘I have been ordered to fight the people until they say La Ilaha Illallah, and if they say that, then their blood and wealth will be protected from me, except what it makes obligatory upon them, and their reckoning is with Allah?’ So Abu Bakr said: ‘By Allah I will fight whoever differentiates between Salat and Zakat. For indeed, Zakat is the right due upon wealth. And by Allah! If they withhold even (camel) tethers which they used to give to the Messenger of Allah I will fight them for withholding it.’ So Umar bin Al-Khattab said: ‘By Allah! I saw that Allah had opened Abu Bakr’s chest to fighting, so I knew that it was correct.'”

Sunan an-Nasa’i – Book 37, Hadith 3978
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “When the Messenger of Allah [SAW] died, and Abu Bakr (became Khalifah) after him, and the ‘Arabs reverted to Kufr, ‘Umar said: ‘O Abu Bakr, how can you fight the people when the Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: I have been commanded to fight the people until they say La ilaha illallah, and whoever says La ilaha illallah, his wealth and his life are safe from me, except for a right that is due, and his reckoning will be with Allah, the Mighty and Sublime?’ Abu Bakr said: ‘I will fight whoever separates Salah and Zakah, for Zakah is the compulsory right to be taken from wealth. By Allah, if they withhold from me a young goat that they used to give to the Messenger of Allah [SAW], I will fight them for withholding it.’ ‘Umar said: ‘By Allah, as soon as I saw that Allah has expanded the chest of Abu Bakr to fighting, I knew that it was the truth.'”

Muwatta Malik – Book 17, Hadith 31
Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, “If they withhold even a hobbling cord I will fight them over it.”

Tabari’s History – Volume 10, Pages 55-7
Abu Bakr’s letter to the apostates.
… So God guided with the truth whoever responded to Him, and the Apostle of God, with His permission, struck whoever turned his back to Him until he came to Islam, willingly or grudgingly.
… I have learned that some of you have turned back from your religion after you had acknowledged Islam and labored in it, out of negligence of God and ignorance of His command, and in compliance with the devil….
… I have sent you someone at the head of an army of the Muhajirun and the Ansar and those who follow (them) in good works. I ordered him not to fight anyone or to kill anyone until he has called him to the cause of God; so that those who respond to him and acknowledge (Him) and renounce (unbelief) and do good works, (my envoy) shall accept him and help him to (do right), but I have ordered him to fight those who deny (Him) for that reason. So he will not spare any one of them he can gain mastery over, (but may) burn them with fire, slaughter them by any means, and take women and children captive; nor shall he accept from anyone anything except Islam.


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