2083 A European Declaration of Independence

August 2, 2011

2.34 Converts in the Muslim world

Filed under: Uncategorized — sitamnesty @ 09:25

Converts from Islam to Christianity are often hunted in the Muslim world, where virtually all religious authorities agree that such individuals deserve death. Muhammad himself commanded such a punishment: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, although there is some disagreement over whether the law applies only to men, or to women also.

At Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious and influential institution in the Islamic world, an Islamic manual certified as a reliable guide to Sunni Muslim orthodoxy states: “When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatises from Islam, he deserves to be killed.” Although the right to kill an apostate is reserved in Muslim law to the leader of the community and other Muslims can theoretically be punished for taking this duty upon themselves, in practice a Muslim who kills an apostate needs to pay no indemnity and perform no expiatory acts (as he must in other kinds of murder cases under classic Islamic law). This accommodation is made because killing an apostate “is killing someone who deserves to die.”

IslamOnline, a website manned by a team of Islam scholars headed by the internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, explains, “If a sane person who has reached puberty voluntarily apostatises from Islam, he deserves to be punished. In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph (or his representative) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.” And what if someone doesn’t wait for a caliph to appear and takes matters into his own hands? Although the killer is to be “disciplined” for “arrogating the caliph’s prerogative and encroaching upon his rights,” there is “no blood money for killing an apostate (or any expiation)” – in other words, no significant punishment for the killer.

An Afghan named Abdul Rahman knows all this well. In February 2006, he was arrested for the crime of leaving Islam for Christianity. The Afghan Constitution stipulates that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” Even after his arrest, Western analysts seem to have had trouble grasping the import of this provision. A “human rights expert” quoted by the Times of London summed up confusion widespread in Western countries: “The constitution says Islam is the religion of Afghanistan, yet it also mentions the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 specifically forbids this kind of recourse. It really highlights the problem the judiciary faces.”

But in fact there was contraction. The Constitution may declare its “respect” for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it also says that no law can contradict Islamic law. The Constitution’s definition of religious freedom is explicit: “The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam. Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law” [My emphasis].

The Islamic death penalty for apostasy is deeply ingrained in Islamic culture — which is one reason why it was Abdul Rahman’s own family that went to police to file a complaint about his conversion. Whatever triggered their action in 2006, they could be confident that the police would receive such a complaint with the utmost seriousness.

After an international outcry, Abdul Rahman was eventually spirited out of Afghanistan to relative safety in Italy. Despite the publicity, his case was hardly unique.




Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: