Leaving Islam: do we have a choice?

Jesus respected His disciples' freedom of choice and gave them the option of leaving Him. After many of them left, Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" John 6:67 They could leave Jesus if they wanted to, whereas Muhammad commanded those who left his teachings to be put to death.

Apostates from Islam - murtadd in Arabic - persistently stare the death penalty in the face.

In 27  countries it is illegal to leave Islam where you face prosecution under the law.  Depending on the influence of Islamism and Sharia law, Sentences range from from fines, imprisonment, and beating  in countries like Malaysia, Morocco, Jordan and Oman. 

In 11 countries—Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen—apostasy is punishable by the death penalty. Other countries without apostasy laws, such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, use blasphemy and other religious protection laws to persecute apostates.

The UN: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 says:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

However, the Cairo Declaration on human Rights in Islam Article 22 says:

(a) “Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah.”

Article 22

(b) “Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah”

Article 24: “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”

Article 25: “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this declaration.”

Qur’an says:

“ They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper ” (4:89)

Qur’anic Abrogation

“Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256)

“But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, aseize them, beleaguer them, lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)…” (9:5)

Al-Ghazali, most influential Muslim after Muhammad, says:

“The meaning of ‘repentance’ of an apostate is his abandoning of his inner religion. The secret apostate does not give up his inner confessions when he professes the words of the shahada [the Muslim profession of faith]. He may be killed for his unbelief because we are convinced that he stays an unbeliever who sticks to his unbelief.”

Hadith says:

Muhammad said “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 9.84.57).

Apostasy law can include

•Questioning whether Allah exists

•Rejecting Muhammad

• Ridiculing or blaspheming Allah and Muhammad

• Damaging the Qur’an

Abul ala Mawdudi, Indian subcontinent scholar says: 

“To everyone acquainted with Islamic law it is no secret that according to Islam the punishment for a Muslim who turns to kufr is execution. Doubt about this matter first arose among Muslims during the final portion of the nineteenth century ... Otherwise, for the full twelve centuries prior to that time the total Muslim community remained unanimous about it.”

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim brotherhood says:

“If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment Islam wouldn’t exist today; Islam would have ended since the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him. So, opposing apostasy is what kept Islam to this day.”

Apostate women in Islam are required to be imprisoned, beaten everyday, three days to return, if not, to be beheaded.

A UK Convert to Christianity, Nissar Hussain, was attacked in the street. The police was unwilling to treat the violence as a hate crime. 

Meriam Ibrahim, a pregnant woman in Sudan was sentenced to death over her Christian faith in 2014. She gave birth in prison while chained. 

In a UK: Policy Exchange Poll (2007) it was found that 1 in 3 British Muslims believed that apostasy should be punishable by death. 79-86% of sharia supporting Muslims in Afghanistan, Egypt & Jordon believe apostates should be executed.

It is clear that apostasy law is a form of authoritarian domination. Wisdom in evangelism is a necessity whilst protecting those who left Islam. There is no doubt that under Islamic Law an apostate must be put to death. Despite the different schools of thought in Islam concerning the matter, to be viewed as apostate under Sharia is a grave dilemma to be in.