Friday, 23 October 2009

Apostasy in Islam; The Discussion

”LondonSpirit vs. Ibn Kammuna”

Written by Contributing Editor Ibn Kammuna


In a previous article I published about apostasy in Islam, it was clear to me that the Islamic punishment for apostates is to kill them. I believe that I showed that this punishment is in fact prescribed in the Qur’an as well as in the Hadith. In fact, in the aforementioned article, I mentioned that many Muslim scholars that enjoy a wide respect amongst Muslims (i.e. Maududi) do in fact prescribe killing apostates. They do that relying on the Qur’an and the Hadith references.

One interesting comment to my article came from a Muslim by the name of LondonSpirit. I do appreciate his comment. I believe dialogue is important between people who have different views. Below, I’ll be quoting him verbatim, and responding to his accusations. A summary of his claims is that nowhere in the Qur’an we have a teaching telling Muslims to kill apostates. A second claim of his is that Hadith is not a reliable source in Islam, and so, we can’t use the Hadith to deduce any Islamic teachings. I have to admit here that LondonSpirit was not very clear, at least to me, as how much of the Hadith he rejects and why. It may be that he rejects all the Hadith (i.e. like the “Qur’aniyoon” group; a group that rejects all Hadith, and rely on the Qur’anic teachings alone) but I can’t tell for sure.

Comment From LondonSpirit

IBN KAMMUNA you have showed two verses from the Qur’an about killing apostate. Can i just relate to your comments as to why you have chosen this specific verse and not mentioned the verses before and after. As if you did you would know what this verses actually mean. Lets start with 4:89 we will go one verse before an one verse after
[4:88] Why should you divide yourselves into two groups regarding hypocrites (among you)? GOD is the one who condemned them because of their own behavior. Do you want to guide those who are sent astray by GOD? Whomever GOD sends astray, you can never find a way to guide them.
[4:89] They wish that you disbelieve as they have disbelieved, then you become equal. Do not consider them friends, unless they mobilize along with you in the cause of GOD. If they turn against you, you shall fight them, and you may kill them when you encounter them in war. You shall not accept them as friends, or allies.
[4:90] Exempted are those who join people with whom you have signed a peace treaty, and those who come to you wishing not to fight you, nor fight their relatives. Had GOD willed, He could have permitted them to fight against you. Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then GOD gives you no excuse to fight them.
[4:91] You will find others who wish to make peace with you, and also with their people. However, as soon as war erupts, they fight against you. Unless these people leave you alone, offer you peace, and stop fighting you, you may fight them when you encounter them. Against these, we give you a clear authorization.

You checked tafsir wrong because if you read 4:88 it clearly is talking about hypocrites. these people say they belive but they didnt. Than they waged war. So in 4:89 and than authroization was given to kill those people who fight you.

And than if you read 4:90 it is saying it is forbiddon to touch those people who has signed a peace treaty

So IBN KAMMUNA you can clearly see from the verses that it has got absolutely nothing to do with people who leave islam.

Ibn Kammuna’s Reply

Let us first use some authentic sources in translating the Qur’an. I’ll put below the translated verses as mentioned in the three reliable tranlsations widely accepted:


YUSUFALI: Why should ye be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? Allah hath upset them for their (evil) deeds. Would ye guide those whom Allah hath thrown out of the Way? For those whom Allah hath thrown out of the Way, never shalt thou find the Way.
PICKTHAL: What aileth you that ye are become two parties regarding the hypocrites, when Allah cast them back (to disbelief because of what they earned? Seek ye to guide him whom Allah hath sent astray? He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him thou (O Muhammad) canst not find a road.
SHAKIR: What is the matter with you, then, that you have become two parties about the hypocrites, while Allah has made them return (to unbelief) for what they have earned? Do you wish to guide him whom Allah has caused to err? And whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall by no means find a way for him.

Ibn Kammuna’s Notes: Please note that verse 88 above tells you who the meant hypocrites are. They are people who became Muslims at one time, then left the faith. Now isn’t that what an apostate is. An apostate is what is meant by hypocrite in the above verse. I have underlined and bolded parts of the above verse to show the reader that this is in fact the case.

Let us move to verse 89


YUSUFALI: 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 ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;-
PICKTHAL: They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them,
SHAKIR: They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.

Ibn Kammuna’s Notes:Please note that verse 89 is a natural continuation of 88. It is talking about hypocrites, which we already found out that those are the apostates (see analysis of verse 88). Now, what does verse 89 tell us? It is telling the Muslims not to befriend the apostates (hypocrites) in any form or fashion. Not only that, but it is clearly telling the Muslims that if the apostates do not come back to the garden of faith, then the Muslims will have to “kill them wherever ye find them”. I have bolded and underlined the part of the verse that is a clear divine command to kill apostates no matter where they are found.

At this point, it is clear to me that the Qur’an prescribes the death penalty for apostates. Its right there in the above two verses. However, LondonSpirit mentions verses 90 and 91. This will have no bearing really on verses 88 and 89 which we already analyzed. But to be fair to him, let me put down verses 90 and 91.

YUSUFALI: Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them).
PICKTHAL: Except those who seek refuge with a people between whom and you there is a covenant, or (those who) come unto you because their hearts forbid them to make war on you or make war on their own folk. Had Allah willed He could have given them power over you so that assuredly they would have fought you. So, if they hold aloof from you and wage not war against you and offer you peace, Allah alloweth you no way against them.
SHAKIR: Except those who reach a people between whom and you there is an alliance, or who come to you, their hearts shrinking from fighting you or fighting their own people; and if Allah had pleased, He would have given them power over you, so that they should have certainly fought you; therefore if they withdraw from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not given you a way against them.

YUSUFALI: Others you will find that wish to gain your confidence as well as that of their people: Every time they are sent back to temptation, they succumb thereto: if they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: In their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them.
PICKTHAL: Ye will find others who desire that they should have security from you, and security from their own folk. So often as they are returned to hostility they are plunged therein. If they keep not aloof from you nor offer you peace nor hold their hands, then take them and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.
SHAKIR: You will find others who desire that they should be safe from you and secure from their own people; as often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong; therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority.

Ibn Kammuna’s Notes: Verse 90 is practicality ordained. Muhammad seems to have had some people leave his group and go back to their families/tribes. Those families/tribes were of considerable strength compared to the Muslims that Muhammad knew if he tries to kill those who left him and belonged to a strong group, he and his group would be in jeopardy. Verse 91 shows that Muhammad had some people who left the Muslim camp, but, for some reason, those individuals were not safe from their own tribe. So, Muhammad knows he is in a strong position against such individuals and threatens to kill them if they try to do “mischief” against the Muslims. Nowhere in those verses (90 and 91) I see a cancellation of the “divine” command of killing apostates (hypocrites).

It is clear to me that Muhammad is talking about individuals who were Muslims, then left Islam. Muhammad clearly wanted to kill them if he could. But some of those individuals belonged to a stronger tribes, so Muhammad takes a decision not to put himself and the Muslims in jeopardy on account of those individuals. However, the verses are clear. If Muhammad was able to have them killed, he will definitely kill them.

One last point before I move on: please note that verse 88 shows that the sole responsibility for those individual leaving Islam rests on Allah’s shoulders.“He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him thou (O Muhammad) canst not find a road.”This raises a major problem for any Muslim. If Allah leads one astray, shouldn’t Allah be the responsible party, and not the individual? Yet, Allah commands the killing of such individuals that He, Allah, led astray to begin with. How much of an idiot one has to be to believe such a Qur’anic verse? How much of an idiot one has to be to believe that such a verse is “divinely” revealed to Muhammad?

Moving along

LondonSpirit writes:

Now 002.217
YUSUFALI: They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: “Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members.” Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.

This has nothing to do with apostasy either. Firstly it is reffering to a satge of war. secondly if you read to wards the end it says

And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.

it is clearly just saying if you reject faith you will bear the fruits of heaven. It has no mention of anyone in this life killing these people. So again it has nothing to do with killing the people who leave islam.

Read the verses properly IBNKAMMUNA.

Ibn Kammuna’s Response:
I wish you would read my article more carefully. Go back to my article. The above verse is mentioned because Al Shafi’i (major figure in Islam, and founder of Sunni Islamic law) interprets the above verse as prescribing the death penalty for apostates. I never stated how I understood this verse in my previous article. The above verse “came down” to Muhammad after the first successful ambush by some of the Muslim pirates done to a Meccan commercial caravan at the Nakhla place (It is known as the Nakhla raid). It was done by the Muslims during a sacred month. You see, Arabs before Muhammad were decent Human beings. They respected the holy. They never attacked each other or fought during the sacred months. Then Muhammad and his pirates showed up. They were no more than a band of thieves and criminals. Muhammad organized them in a band/cult like system, and started looting and stealing other people’s fortunes. The Nakhla raid was the first successful one. Muhammad made a goodly amount of booty and money from that raid. But it was done during a sacred time, so Muhammad had to resort to a Qur’anic revelation to justify his evil deed. This is when the above verse came down telling Muhammad that it is okay to do such a robbery. Its okay. Enjoy the loot. You suffered more from the Meccans my dear son, Muhammad. Isn’t denying you access to the holy place in Mecca worse than killing and looting others? Oh, yes indeed my dear son Muhammad. This is the above verse in a nutshell my dear friend LondonSpirit. I have published an article on the Nakhla raid. I think reading it will help you better understand the above verse. Read it Here.

LondonSpirit writes:


YUSUFALI: But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practice regular charity,- they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand.

YUSUFALI: But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained

Have you even read this verse. What has it got to do with people who leave islam.

it is talking about the leaders who broke their oath of not to start war. It is gives authorization that if the leaders break the oath than you can attack the leaders.

Ibn Kammuna Writes:
Again, LondonSpirit, with all due respect, I wish you would read my article more carefully. I never stated what I believe the above verses say. Those are verses used by a Muslims scholar known for his depth of knowledge of the Qur’an; Maulana Maududi. Please note that Maududi is no small figure in Islam when it comes to understanding and interpreting the Qur’an. This is why I am using what he says, and letting the reader know what verses he relied on. Please go back to my article and see that this is in fact the case.

LondonSpirit Wrties:

IBNKAMMUNA you have failed to produce a single verse from the Qur’an in regards to killing an apostate. As a matter of fact there aint a single verse in the Qur’an that says we should kill people who leave islam. Its a known fact and even the person who you respect (ALI SINA) knows that.

Ibn Kammuna Writes:
I believe I did produce a single verse. I also showed that many pious knowledgeable Islamic scholars use multiple verses to deduce that the Qur’an does indeed prescribe the killing of apostates. I leave a final decision on the issue to the readers of this debate.

LondonSpirit Writes:

In regards to hadith these are all narrations. as you can see from the hadiths the prophet never ever said kill those who leave islam, these are actions of other people. Any way the hadiths can never be scientifically proven correct, therefore it is the Qur’an that it is to be followed. Not the hadith. The hadith is considered to be a sunnah not farz.

So mate you havent proved nothing on this forum.

Ibn Kammuna Writes:
What you say is no more than a cop out. You are trying to save Islam, and so reject the Hadith. Now, take the Qur’an to a people living in remote Island, and ask them to be Muslims and practice Islam. Do you think they can do it just relying on the Qur’an? Off course not. Many of the essential Islamic teachings as to when, why, how, where,..etc are found in the Hadith, not the Qur’an. I do realize that many Hadiths are not compatible with Human rights. Muslims who reject the Hadith know full well that Islam is incompatible with moral values and human rights, and so, they reject the Hadith.The problem is they are not Muslims anymore. There is just too much in the hadith that I daresay, you reject hadith, you reject Islam. Qur’an only Islam is a mirage.

One last thing LondonSpirit: you say ” the prophet never ever said kill those who leave islam.” I am just wondering if you know that Muhammad ordered the assassination of many people for even lesser crimes than apostasy. I wrote many articles on this matter. Here is a link to one of those articles. Please read it.

Don’t fool yourself LondonSpirit. Muhammad’s hands are saturated with the blood of the innocents.



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