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Punishment for apostates

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sharif110

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If a person from an Islamic country committed Apostasy of Islam abroad, and returns as a non-Muslim citizen, would they still be committing a crime?

 

Alsalamu Alaykum

I would rather start my responding by a verse of the Quran in this regard;

 

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وَمَن يَرْتَدِدْ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُولَـئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ  وَأُولَـئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ.

And whoever of you turns away from his religion and dies faithless—they are the ones whose works have failed in this world and the Hereafter. They shall be the inmates of the Fire, and they shall remain in it [forever]. [The Qur'ān 2:217][1]

 

 
 

 

At the very beginning, we shall know about the kinds of apostasy or the differences between apostates, then Islamic rules in accordance with every one of them would be expressed.

 

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The punishment prescribed by the shari`ah for apostasy is death. Even the terms used by the shari`ah for apostates give the idea of treason to this whole phenomenon. "Murtad" means apostate. Murtad can be of two types: fitri and milli.

(1) "Murtad Fitri" means a person who is born of a Muslim parent and then he rejects Islam. "Fitrah" means creation. The term "murtad fitri" implies that the person has apostate from the faith in which he was born.

(2) "Murtad Milli" means a person who converted to Islam and then later on he rejects Islam. Milli is from millat which means religion. The term "murtad milli" implies that the person has apostatized from his religion and the Muslim community.

In the first case, the apostasy is like the treason against God; whereas in the second case, the apostasy is like the treason against the Muslim community. Probably, that is why the Sh`iah jurisprudence deals with these two kinds of murtads differently:

• A former kāfir who became a Muslim and then apostates (murtad milli), he is given a second chance: if he repents, then he is not to be killed; but if he does not repent, then he is to be killed.

• But one who is born as a Muslim and then apostates (murtad fitri), he is to be killed even if he repents. It is important to understand that in case a murtad fitri repents, Allāh may accept his repentance and he may be forgiven in the hereafter, but he still has to go through the punishment prescribed for his treason in this world.

This punishment is only applicable in case of apostasy by men; in case of women, the punishment is not death but life imprisonment. And if such a woman repents, then her repentance is accepted and the punishment is lifted.

Read more about “apostasy in Islam” in;

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/apostacy-islam-sayyid-muhammad-rizvi

http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/fa4761

  1.    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.qarai/2:217

 

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actually this punishment witch is said, is for a kind of apostasy witch is social announcement not for any kind of it even secretly.

so in Islam every social punishment for sins is a kind of penalty for others to not obey. ultimately there is no any compulsion in religion but if it is announced publicly even for one another the Muslims should punish him.

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It's an interesting view, which seems close to the one I've seen some Sunnis give. For example:

 

I would dispute this part though:

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They will claim that today apostasy generally takes place because many Muslims encounter doubts or tough questions about their creed, and their reason to leave Islam is generally their claim to having received unsatisfying responses to crucial questions.

I would argue that many people today are leaving Islam because they simply don't like it, and it doesn't fit in with the lifestyle they would like to live. Or it contradicts the worldview they've adopted (for example feminists). Questions could then be asked in many case about to which extent they were ever 'real' Muslims in the first place, but I think there are probably more people who leave Islam due to following their desires rather than because there was some theological issue that they couldn't get a good response to. Plenty of people do however try to justify their apostasy after the fact by appealing to theological issues (often to convince themselves that they've made the right decision), but I don't know if that's usually the principal motivating factor in the first place.

Aside from that, the logic here seem a bit tenuous to me:

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Now this same method is used on the verse: There is no compulsion in religion. They will argue, that since there was no compulsion for one to enter into the religion to begin with, how can there be any compulsion to force them back into the religion later on? Remember though, all these scholars are talking about an apostate who left Islam due to theological doubts, and not someone who intends on waging war or attacking Muslims or an Islamic state. They all would agree that the latter - who is a combatant at that point - should be killed.

The fact that there is no compulsion to begin with doesn't mean that there has to be no compulsion later on. There are plenty of instances like that in life, where there is no compulsion to do something in the first place, but once in it's not so easy to leave (joining the army could be one such example). And, although it doesn't necessarily invalidate the argument, it is slightly amusing to see an argument that many liberal lay Muslims have been making for a while now being repeated by scholars. I'm sure you are just simplifying a more complex argument, but at essence it seems to be quite a simplistic one.

Aside from that, I don't quite understand why guidance would be less manifest to us now than it would have been in 8th century Kufa or Madina for example. If anything I would have imagined that people typically had less information back then than we do know. So the question is why the Imams (a) continued to narrate these extremely harsh narrations without this consideration for people who were simply 'doing taqleed'.

Speaking from the point of view of my own desires, I'll be honest and say I would like for this argument to work, and I think there is some substance to it. However, as of yet, I haven't been fully convinced.

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:bismillah:

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I would argue that many people today are leaving Islam because they simply don't like it, and it doesn't fit in with the lifestyle they would like to live. Or it contradicts the worldview they've adopted (for example feminists). Questions could then be asked in many case about to which extent they were ever 'real' Muslims in the first place, but I think there are probably more people who leave Islam due to following their desires rather than because there was some theological issue that they couldn't get a good response to. Plenty of people do however try to justify their apostasy after the fact by appealing to theological issues (often to convince themselves that they've made the right decision), but I don't know if that's usually the principal motivating factor in the first place.

I think the two reasons (following desires, or not being aware of the truth) are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Many people may be leaving because they want to accommodate for their desires, but there are external elements that encourage them to act on these desires, or make them believe that giving priority to these desires over what they consider to be true is the right decision to make (if they really do consider it to be the truth - which is really hard for me to accept, except in rare cases). Otherwise one can follow their desires and sin all they want, but still identify as a Muslim. The point you mentioned about what extent they were Muslims to begin with, that is what is important. Did they truly have certainty in their beliefs? We know that attaining true certainty is not easy (neither a criteria to be considered a Muslim). However if they didn't have certainty to begin with, and certain doubts and elements caused them to leave, can they be executed for such type of apostasy? How can we even truly determine who was certain or not. Perhaps this is why some scholars like author of al-Qawaneen (Mirza Qummi) completely rejected the application of Hudud during the occultation (because in court-law, there is a view that a judge can act upon his own personal knowledge of the matter and give a verdict based on that and if the Imam implements it, it can be fully justified). I have also seen Ayatullah Saanei refer to this view of Mirza Qummi in one of his responses.

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Aside from that, the logic here seem a bit tenuous to me:

The fact that there is no compulsion to begin with doesn't mean that there has to be no compulsion later on. There are plenty of instances like that in life, where there is no compulsion to do something in the first place, but once in it's not so easy to leave (joining the army could be one such example). And, although it doesn't necessarily invalidate the argument, it is slightly amusing to see an argument that many liberal lay Muslims have been making for a while now being repeated by scholars. I'm sure you are just simplifying a more complex argument, but at essence it seems to be quite a simplistic one.

The argument is actually not complex at all - it isn't meant to be. You will occasionally see it in works of deductive jurisprudence in various different chapters of Fiqh, when the correct premises are there and available to be utilized. The hujjiyyah (binding force) of this Qiyas (for those jurists who accept it - meaning there are a few who don't) actually goes back to hujjiyyah of Zuhur (the binding force of the prima-facie meaning of a text/statement). Meaning, the apparent meaning of the verse it self indicates these other instances and is inclusive of them.

The point about joining the army or other cases in life where there is no compulsion at first, but then there is later on, this would only apply in the case of apostasy if we can establish that there is compulsion later on. Otherwise, if the army doesn't come and make it a separate law, there really would be no reason to prevent a person from leaving the army after joining it.

These scholars will argue that we have already understood the narrations on this subject in a way that it doesn't prove the existence of any such compulsion after joining the religion. The Ayah (applying that Qiyas) also suggests otherwise. On top of all this, we have plenty of other accepted Fiqhi principles (amongst all jurists) that 1) mention that Hudud is not to be carried out when there is a doubt present (on whether the person should be executed or not - Jonathan Brown also referred to it in his recent article on stoning and hand-cutting, so Sunnis have the same principle. I was also overall surprised at the similarities both Shi'i and Sunni fiqh had on this topic in general), or 2) that we must do Ihtiyat when we have doubt on whether a certain person can be killed or not.

In cases of a person leaving Islam based on a theological doubt, they will argue that not only do they have evidence that the law doesn't apply on them (because the narrations don't concern them, and the ayah suggests there is no compulsion on them), but even if we were to say that we may be able to argue otherwise through the narrations (which mind you, include some weak traditions as well), that "may be able to" is not enough to carry out a death-penalty since it only results in doubt over the matter.

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Aside from that, I don't quite understand why guidance would be less manifest to us now than it would have been in 8th century Kufa or Madina for example. If anything I would have imagined that people typically had less information back then than we do know. So the question is why the Imams (a) continued to narrate these extremely harsh narrations without this consideration for people who were simply 'doing taqleed'.

I think the truth being more accessible or manifest then or today is worthy of discussion. I believe it was definitely easier to remain a Muslim then, than it is today. There were fewer doubts at that time, particularly over fundamental matters such as existence of God or the soul. If such doubts did come forth, their answers were much easier to give, because both parties still had some crucial areas in epistemology where they agreed. Today however, that is not the case. Plus there are narrations that also allude to this - including the discussion on the philosophy of the occultation of the Mahdi - and certain philosophical and mystical traditions will confirm this as well which talk about the fall of man.

You hardly find any instance from the lives of the Imams (other than Imam Ali - where our scholars have a huge dispute themselves on the reliability of those events) giving an order for the killing of an apostate (which did exist during the Abbasid dynasty, although uncommon) to their companions. I think at most you will find a handful of instances where they asked for an extremist Ghali to be killed, but that was really it.

One other argument I have seen being made is that if you look at our narrations from the Imams, you will find the usage of the word جحود. For example, the narration will say that if a person was a Muslim and then does ja-ha-da (جحد) against Allah, and the Prophet, they are considered an apostate and executed. One of the arguments that these scholars will make is that juhud literally means to reject something while one knows it to be correct and the truth. You can look at the classical dictionaries and you will find this definition there. Since we cannot really know whether a person actually did believe something to be true or not, these recent scholars contextualize this term with the given historical backdrop, and argue that this term it self implies a notion of aggression against Islam and Muslims. So if you look at the cases of apostasy during the Prophet's time, some of those may be good examples of juhud. For example, a person was a Muslim and believed in Islam, but for whatever reason killed another Muslim, and then ran back to his own tribe for protection (while knowing Islam is the true religion), and he would now be seen as someone who was an apostate.

By that equation, if one leaves Islam because they actually arrive at the conclusion that it is not the true religion, it would not be an instance of juhud and thus not apostasy. If they leave Islam based on research, yet still intend on waging war or are violent, you will have to apply the laws of muharaba - for example, instead of irtidad.

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For others reading, as I mentioned previously, this is just a presentation of the arguments of those jurists who argue against the application of this law. The discussion is purely theoretical and even if your own Marja' believes that the law is valid as it is, its application is pretty much inconceivable today given our circumstances.

Wassalam

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16 minutes ago, Ibn al-Hussain said:

:bismillah:

 

You hardly find any instance from the lives of the Imams (other than Imam Ali - where our scholars have a huge dispute themselves on the reliability of those events) giving an order for the killing of an apostate (which did exist during the Abbasid dynasty, although uncommon) to their companions. I think at most you will find a handful of instances where they asked for an extremist Ghali to be killed, but that was really it.

Wouldn't that have to do with Imam Ali (AS) having power, while the other Imams (AS) not having power?

Edited by E.L King
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30 minutes ago, E.L King said:

Wouldn't that have to do with Imam Ali (AS) having power, while the other Imams (AS) not having power?

Imam Ali being in power definitely had something to do with it - whether in reality or whether the events are fabricated. As I said, a lot of the narrations surrounding him are disputed and some scholars have deemed many of them fabricated by the 'Umayyads. However then you will have to justify on what basis did the Imams order the killing of some Ghullat, or whether this law of apostasy is even something that one needs to be in a position of power or a judge to carry out. In a narration the Imam says to 'Ammar al-Sabati, that the blood of a murtadd fitri is mubah (permissible to be spilled) for anyone who hears a statement from him which shows that he is an apostate.

Wasalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain
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18 minutes ago, Ibn al-Hussain said:

Imam Ali being in power definitely had something to do with it - whether in reality or whether the events are fabricated. As I said, a lot of the narrations surrounding him are disputed and some scholars have deemed many of them fabricated by the 'Umayyads. However then you will have to justify on what basis did the Imams order the killing of some Ghullat, or whether this law of apostasy is even something that one needs to be in a position of power or a judge to carry out. In a narration the Imam says to 'Ammar al-Sabati, that the blood of a murtadd fitri is mubah (permissible to be spilled) for anyone who hears a statement from him which shows that he is an apostate.

Wasalam

Another interesting point is that it seems some ulama tend to differentiate between general irtidad and someone committing something more specific, such as claiming Prophethood or committing blasphemy. 

But the hadith of Ammar Al-Sabati is interesting. 

Edited by E.L King
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