Saturday, 19 June 2010

What Went Wrong In Islam — An Excellent Analysis, Part II

”A discussion on a Turkish website”

Continues from Part I

Three institutions have deflected the trajectory of Mohammed's original message: the law, the empire, and the tribe. Let us take apostasy as an example. The Qur’an condemns the apostate to damnation but imposes no earthly penalty. The death penalty arose later, in the law. It was the traditions of the Prophet, known as the Sunna, developed and codified later during a drive for the Islamicization of the early Islamic empire, that required putting the apostate to death. A primary tradition relied upon for this view attributes to Mohammed the statement, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him."

Most traditions, however, including the one just cited, inflict the death sentence because the apostate
waged war on Islam. Indeed, the primary justification for the execution of the apostate is that in the early days of Islam, apostasy and treason were in fact synonymous.
“War was perennial in Arabia. It never stopped. To reject the leader of another tribe, to give up on a coalition, was in effect to go to war against him. “

Even during Jesus time war was perennial, but it didn’t prevent him to bless even his enemies. The argument put forward by Dr. Forte is very very weak and not dign of his title.

There was no such thing as neutrality. There were truces, but there was never permanent neutrality. It is reported, for example, that immediately after the death of Mohammed, many tribes apostatized. They said in effect, "The leader whom we were following is gone, so let's go back to our own leaders." And they rebelled against Muslim rule. The first caliph, Abu Bakr, ordered such rebels to be killed.

Many scholars argue that the tradition that all apostates had to be killed had its origin during these wars of rebellion and not during Mohammed's time. In fact, many argue that these traditions in which Mohammed affirmed the killing of apostates were apocryphal, made up later to justify what the empire had been doing. In fact, most of these traditions do not have a sound isnad, or chain of authority. Muslims knew that there were tens of thousands of fabricated traditions in the 8th and 9th centuries during the ideological battles between the legalists and other parties in the Islamic empire. And so the method of authenticating what were sound traditions developed. Those traditions that could be regarded with authority possessed a clear, unbroken chain of transmission by reputable Muslims reaching back to the Prophet. In Islam, as in most ancient methods of adjudication, authority was the method of determining truth, not objective forensic evidence. If the witness were moral, the witness had to be believed. You can impugn the witness's character, but you don't impugn the testimony. The testimony is accepted. So if one could find a sound isnad, one had to accept its authority. (Of course, one could fabricate the transmissions as well as the substance of the tradition, but that problem was not, to my knowledge, systematically addressed in Islamic tradition.)

But there are breaks in some of the isnads. That tradition is then called weak, or not sound. Most, if not all, of the traditions regarding Mohammed's assertions of apostasy as a capital offense are either apocryphal, according to Western and some Muslim scholars, or have weak isnads and need not be believed. In one of the most exhaustive studies of the classical sources of Islamic law, S.A. Rahman, a Pakistani jurist of renown, argued that all references in the Qur’an to apostasy tied retaliation to rebellion, not merely falling from faith. Rahman argued that most other verses and sound traditions indicate an undeviating view that changes in belief were left to God to punish, and that it was forbidden to compel any person to join or rejoin any religion.

Whatever the source for the sentence of apostasy, most jurists of the Sharia came to regard the crime as one of neither rebellion nor unbelief, but merely a falling away from Islam. They were, after all, religious judges, and they came up with these rules a century or two after Mohammed's death. And so the religious judge would import authoritative actions into a religious mold. No distinction was made between the apostate who converts to one of the protected religions and one who falls into polytheism or unbelief. All apostates were denominated as unbelievers. No connection with rebellion was required. All that was needed was some evidence of disbelief, and unless recantation occurred relatively quickly, death was imposed.

For the Maliki school, it was the act of falling away from the religion of Islam that mattered. The law had no regard for conversion from one non-Islamic faith to another. But for the more casuistical Shafii school, any act of apostasy was fatal, even from say Judaism to Christianity.

As in other areas of Islamic law, probative evidence relies upon the bona fides of the witnesses more than upon the substance of the act that constitute apostasy. According to Abu Zakariyya Yahiya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (1233-78) of the
Shafii school, "witnesses need not recount in all their details the facts that constitute apostasy; they may confine themselves to affirming that the guilty person is an apostate." The punishment for an apostate is death; traditionally by beheading, although crucifixion and immolation have also been employed. For some jurists, the apostate must be given a period of time in which to recant and return to Islam; most schools require that the apostate be exhorted to repent. But the Shia will not accept the recantation of an apostate who was born a Muslim. The Hanafi school recommends three days of imprisonment before execution, although neither the delay nor the requirement to try to dissuade the apostate before killing him is mandatory. The Maliki school (dominant in Egypt), which is normally stricter than the Hanafi school, will in this case allow up to ten days for recantation. Although the Hanafi school does not condemn the female apostate to death, jurists in the Maliki and Shafi schools do.

Under most schools of Islamic law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali, Shia Jaafari), the apostate is an outlaw. The Hanafis are explicit: any person killing an apostate is himself immune to prosecution and immune from retaliation. In addition, the apostate loses all civil entitlement. His marriage becomes a nullity, and he has no rights to inherit. In 1995 in Egypt, for example, a court declared Nasr Abu Zeid, a professor of Arabic literature and Islamic studies at Cairo University, an apostate, and he and his wife had to flee to France. He and his wife escaped to France because they knew the fate of with the novelist Farag Fouda, whom the ulama of Al-Azhar university had declared to be an apostate. Certain that he was going to be assassinated, Fouda was in fact murdered in 1992. His killers announced "All we did was carry out the appropriate Islamic punishment in light of the accusation leveled by Al-Azhar's ulama.".

Here is where the religious law can become pernicious. One of the most signal reforms of Mohammed was to get rid of self-help vengeance between the tribes. In seventh-century Arabia, if a member of one tribe were killed or harmed by a member of another tribe, the tribe of the victim could retaliate at will. This led to unending feuds. Mohammed decreed that there would no longer be retaliation allowed until the guilt of the malefactor was proven to an impartial third party. And then, retaliation was allowed only in the most egregious circumstances, where there was what we would call malice afore thought. In all other circumstances, there could only be compensation. Self-help was no longer allowed. This is a fundamental legal principle of any ordered society.

“But the legal jurists, in turning apostasy from an act of treason to an act of unbelief, allowed self-help vengeance to return to Muslim society. They undid one of the most important reforms of Mohammed. This has been filtered into the tribal culture that has always remained within Islam. The act of apostasy became an offense against the honor of the clan or the family. And since the law allowed acts of private vengeance in such cases, there was a return to the very kind of violent act that Mohammed originally decreed out of Muslim society.”

Such a cultural practice leaves non-Muslims paralyzed. On a trip I made to a moderate Muslim country, I visited non-Muslim religious leaders and asked them what happens if a Muslim wishes to convert to Christianity. They were all upset by that question. One religious leader told me, "Well, there are many reasons why a man might want to convert to Christianity, none of them genuine. It might be a psychological reason, it might be he's unstable, etc." It is not just that it is politically embarrassing for a Christian leader that someone might want to become a Christian. If his family should find out, and he cannot be gotten out of the country, his family will kill him.

So apostasy has been brought into tribal cultures, which sadly to many Westerners seems to give the lie to the Qur’anic verse that there shall be no compulsion in religion. Such actions, in my view, distort the genuine heart of Islam. But it shows how far from the original principles the culture has come because of what the legal community did to it, what the empire's needs were, and how “tribalism has distorted the religion's spiritual message.”

After all beeing said and against all evidences it seems to me that that the spiritual message of Islam must be a ghost.

Another example is the treatment of religious minorities. When Mohammed conquered a religious minority, he gave them safe conduct and the right to continue their religious practices on payment of tribute. There was nothing unusual about that. Tribute was the normal method of acknowledgment of a superior ruler over an inferior people. Even during the middle period of the Islamic empire, when the Byzantine Empire had a brief resurgence, the caliph paid tribute to the Byzantine emperor. And then afterwards, the Byzantine Empire generally paid tribute to the caliph.

When the Islamic armies had first conquered Syria, the Holy Land, and Egypt, they came with no historic tradition of imperial rule. The first empire, after the four caliphs who succeeded Mohammed, was the Umayyad Empire (661-750), which had its capital in Damascus, a Byzantine city. At the start, the Muslim conquerors were in effect garrison troops. Virtually the entire population was non-Muslim. In fact, in the first few decades of the Umayyad Empire, the court language was Greek, not Arabic.

Now the Byzantines had already invented the idea of what to do to a heretical sect (short of persecution). They would permit it to exist on payment of tribute. The Umayyad Empire simply adopted the Byzantine practice. Then when the Abbasids took over from the Umayyads in 750, they moved their capital to Baghdad, which had been part of Persia. The Abbasids absorbed the Persian Sassanid imperial structure. The Persians, who were Zoroastrians, had, under the Parthians (till around the year 250), been very tolerant of other religions. But under the Sassanids, who had succeeded the Parthians, deviant sects were persecuted. The Sassainids would allow some sects to exist, provided they paid a higher tax than did the Zoroastrians. This practice was absorbed by the Abbasid Empire and developed into the law of the dhimmi (Christians and Jews, but later including Zoroastrians, Hindus, Sabians). The practice was codified into the law that the jurists were developing at the same time. It was a contemporaneous development, not something from the Qur’an or from the Prophet.

The dhimmi were allowed to exist and practice their own religion on payment of a jizyah, which originally meant tribute but became much higher than the normal zakat that the Muslim had to pay. (The zakat itself was originally a voluntary tithing, but the empire turned it into a permanent tax, for empires know a good tax scheme when they see it.) This differentiation put great pressure upon the dhimmi to convert, because most people maintain their religion as a matter of social norm, not as a matter of personal belief. This differentiation between the zakat and the jizyah, as well as a later differentiation in property taxes, derived from the Sassanid Empire and became part of the Islamic rule regarding the dhimmi.”

“But if you take Mohammed's original premise, which is that a subject religion can continue to practice so long as they recognize the legitimacy of the state over it, there's nothing contrary to that in modern religious freedom”.
...but the Doctor in this case hasn’t still understood that in Islam state and religion is the same!!! Has the well-travelled Doctor been in Egypt for example and seen the situation of the Copts, or the situation of the Orthodox Church in Turkey?

With the dhimmi under imperial rule, ratified authoritatively by the Sharia, as a subject religion, tribalism adds the mental construct of intolerance of the other, and the results are the kind of massacres against dhimmis that have always punctuated Islamic history over the centuries. It need not have been so. But it became ratified by the law through the structure of empire and acted upon through the lens of tribalism.

As most moderate and reformist Muslims readily agree, none of these untoward practices of Muslim civilization are required by the spiritual message of the Prophet. Looking past the present-day violence of radical Muslims, we see that, in the long run, the great struggle within Islam is to return to its spiritual roots undeflected by empire, tribe, or rigid legal norms. In sum, moderate and reformist thinkers in Islam are seeking to return to the spiritual trajectory established by the Prophet.

Yes, what we Muslims need is to return to the spiritual trajectory established by the Prophet. And we have to do this not because the West is calling for it, but because we need it. Some of things we attach our selves to as God's will are simply not so. We should be wise enough to denounce them and reclaim the tolerant, humane and gracious essence of Islam.

Although I have to admit that this article shows some goodwill, what actually Dr Forte writes, has nothing to do with Islam. What he is trying to hide is the reality of what actually Islam is. Everything else is self illusin!

Source: -


What Went Wrong In Islam — An Excellent Analysis, Part I

”A discussion on a Turkish website”

The original post is on italics; my comments are on bold

This are comments on an article posted on the following site:

“For long, I have been arguing that the bigoted or violent religious interpretations we see in the Islamic world are results of not the Koran, but of the post-Koranic traditions that arose in the early centuries of the Islamic civilization. In other words, I have been claiming that the original message of the Koran, which was tolerant, humane and gracious, was overshadowed over time.”

It must be clear that the author actually has never read the Qur’an. He must be really naive or machiavellic. Has he never asked himself that if the “later traditions” were antithetic to the Qur’an they would have been set aside? It seems that he is admitting that the Qur’an must be a very weak book if it allows to be mishandled and misinterpreted in that way. It seems as well that he ignores something very important: the very accordeance of the Sunna, that is constitued by Qur’an + Hadiths (+Sira). The Qur’an by itself is sometimes very very complicated, unclear and difficult to read and understand (btw does the Qur’an not state that the truth comes out clearly???). This is the reason why it needs to be partnered by the Hadiths and the Sira.

Don’t fool yourself. David Forte is not able to read and not even to see the reality. He thinks that he has to apply logic and reason to something that goes against it, and as well against humanity. He cannot accept that there is a world religion that (unique in this sense) has a well developed warfare doctrine. His point of view disqualifies himself as scholar and will be matter of derision not only in western academic circles but as well in Islamic ones.

I have just came accross an excellent analysis of this devolution in a piece by David Forte, Professor of Law at Cleveland State University. The piece, titled "Islam's Trajectory," is probably the best article I have ever read by a Western scholar on this topic. After giving examples of the bigoted approach towards apostasy in contemporary Islamic world — such as the notorious case of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who converted to Christianity and was threatened by execution by the legal authorities in that country — Dr. Forte explains that this is barbaric intolerance is completely contradictory to the Koran and the original message of Prophet Muhammad. That message, according to him, was distorted for political means and by political actors. "Three institutions have deflected the trajectory of Mohammed's original message", he says "the law, the empire, and the tribe."

Oh! Dr. Forte has foud out that barbaric intolerance is COMPLETELY contradictory to the original Qur’anic message: I’ll give you some examples why according to the most authoritative traditions of Islam, Muhammad understood terror to be one of God's distinctives favors upon him, making him superior to other prophets.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror, and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand." Abu Huraira added: Allah's Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220)

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror (in the hearts of enemies): spoils have been made lawful to me: the earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship; I have been sent to all mankind and the line of prophets is closed with me. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1062, 1063, 1066, 1067)

The QUR’AN declares:
Soon shall We cast TERROR into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers! (3:151)

Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil TERROR into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them." This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment. (8:12-13)

They shall have a curse on them: whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain (without mercy) (33:61)). (Actually the verse slain is (without mercy) is the translation of “Quttilu Taqtila” that actually meanso cut the throat of”!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better (of the godly): they will never frustrate (them). Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike TERROR into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (8:59-60)

And Allah turned back the Unbelievers for (all) their fury: no advantage did they gain; and enough is Allah for the believers in their fight. And Allah is full of Strength, able to enforce His Will. And those of the People of the Book who aided them - Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast TERROR into their hearts. (So that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners. And He made you heirs of their lands, their houses, and their goods, and of a land which ye had not frequented (before). And Allah has power over all things. (33:25-27)

It is He Who got out the Unbelievers among the People of the Book from their homes at the first gathering (of the forces). Little did ye think that they would get out: And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allah! But the (Wrath of) Allah came to them from quarters from which they little expected (it), and cast TERROR into their hearts, so that they destroyed their dwellings by their own hands and the hands of the Believers, take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)! (59:2)

That is because they resisted Allah and His Messenger: And if any one resists Allah, verily, Allah is severe in punishment. (59:4)

Of a truth ye are stronger (than they) because of the TERROR in their hearts, (sent) by Allah. This is because they are men devoid of understanding. (59:13)

Reading those verses it becomes clear that even though it is Allah who casts the terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, he does so by the action of the Muslims: ...
smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them ... Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies ... some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners ... destroyed their dwellings by the hands of the Believers. (9:5)

Allah commands deeds of terror by the believers against the unbelievers as the means of creating the emotion of terror in their hearts. The only reason needed for action is that
"they resisted Allah and His Messenger".

Such an approach to "conflict management" is nothing to be ashamed about according to Islamic understanding, but it is a basis for pride. It is one reason for the superiority of Muhammad over all other prophets.

Actually here some other nice and gentlemen verses from the QUR’AN:

“And fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah those who fight you.” (2:190)
Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s” (2:193)

“So fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing.” (2:244)

Those who are believers fight (yuqaatiloona) in the way of Allah, and the unbelievers fight in the idols’ way. So fight (qaatiloo) the friends of Satan; surely the guile of Satan is ever feeble.” (4:76)

“Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely.” (8:39)

But if they break their oaths after their covenant and thrust at your religion, then fight (qaatiloo) the leaders of unbelief.” (9:12)

Fight (qaatiloo) those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.” (9:29)

O believers, fight (qaatiloo) the unbelievers (kuffaar) who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness (ghilza).” (9:123)

And slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come upon them” (2:191)

But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then if they fight you, slay them (aqtuloohum) — such is the recompense of unbelievers.” (2:191)

then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you find them” (4:89)

If they withdraw not from you, and offer you peace, and restrain their hands, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come on them; against them we have given you a clear authority.” (4:91)

Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay (aqtuloo) the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush.” (9:5)

So let them fight (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah who sell the present life for the world to come; and whosoever fights (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah and is slain, or conquers, we shall bring him a mighty wage.” (4:74)

When you meet the unbelievers, smite (darba) their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads.” (47:4)

Since I very much agree with Dr. Forte's view, and deem it highly crucial, I directly quote much of his article. Yes, here is a good summary of how things went wrong in Islamic jurisdiction:

As we take the Qur’an, as most moderate educated Muslims interpret it, we find the following: Christians and Jews are respected as Abrahamic brothers in faith and will enjoy the favor of God on the last day. There is no compulsion in faith for any person. A person who abjures Islam will suffer God's disapproval, but may not be harmed in this world. Non-Muslims can practice their religion and receive protection upon the payment of tribute, the standard mechanism for a subject population in ancient imperial times.

Related to the respect towards the people from the Book please consider this:
do not take them as friends, al-Ma'idah 5:51

irreconcilable enemies, al-Baqarah 2:113
labeled as fools, Sahih Bukhari 1.392
denied good things of life, an-Nisa' 4:160 reasons for, an-Nisa' 4:161
do not take Jews and Christians for friends, al-Ma'idah 5:51
- good deeds of ancestors don't count,
al-Baqarah 2:136
- hurting themselves by their misinterpretations,
al-Ma'idah 5:64
- ignorant (ummiun) and does not know Scripture, but foolish stories,
al-Baqarah 2:78
- most hostile to Muslims,
al-Ma'idah 5:82
- pervert after understanding Scriptures,
al-Baqarah 2:75
- slaying prophets,
al-Baqarah 2:61; Âl 'Imran 3:21,112,181,183; an-Nisa' 4:155,157; al-Ma'idah 5:70
- distort meanings of all revelations,
al-Baqarah 2:75; an-Nisa' 4:46; al-Ma'idah 5:13,41
- warning to,
an-Nisa' 4:47
- write scripture with own hands,
al-Baqarah 2:79.
- some turned into apes for:
breaking the sabbath,
al-Baqarah 2:65
- pride,
al-A`raf 7:166
some turned into pigs and monkeys, al-Ma'idah 5:60
some people turned into pigs and monkeys till the Day of Resurrection, Sahih Bukhari 7.494.

And related to the “always returning psychedelic hymn” that there is no compulsion into religio, consider this: 2;256 is a Meccan sura, and Muhammad, being in a disadvantaged position, had sought to persuade the non-Muslims to Islam. At Medina, however, the attitude of Muhammad and the Qur'an hardened, and it was sanctioned that conversion through force is necessary. Morover the verse (if you read carefully) is beeing said from Mohamed towards a tribe of jews that took with demselves muslim childs in order not to be slained. So it is intented to the jews not to try to turn the children out of their faith and not the contrary. Anyway, this is an abrogaed verse as you might know. (everyone that tries to foolish you by citing 2:256 has and will never understand anythong of Islam.

And as to apostasy (irtidad or riddah), there has been much controversy among Muslims whether the male apostate is to be put to death. Many Muslim countries prescribed the death penalty for the apostate if he continues in it. A certain grace period may be given for the apostate to for him to repent, after which he may be executed. Death bed repentance is not allowed. The female apostate is to be kept in confinement until she recant or death. If one of a husband or wife apostatize, a divorce takes place and the wife is entitled to her dowry, but if both apostatize together, then the marriage is not dissolved, but Iman Zufar regards that the marriage is annulled. However, if later, one of them returns to Islam, then divorce is necessary (Hamilton, Hidayah, vol. ii. p. 183).

According to Abu Hanifah, a male apostate is disabled from selling or otherwise disposing of his property. But Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad differ from their master upon this point, and consider a male apostate to be as competent to excercise every right as if he were still in the faith. (Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, p. 16, citing Hamilton, Hidaya, vol. ii, p. 235)

If a boy under age apostatize, he is not to be put to death, but to be imprisoned until he come to full age, when, if he continue in the state of unbelief, he must be put to death. Neither lunatics nor drunkards are held to be responsible for their apostasy from Islam (Hidayah, vol. ii, 246). If a person upon compulsion become an apostate, his wife is not divorced, nor are his lands forfeited. If a person become a musalman upon compulsion, and afterwards apostatize, he is not to be put to death. (Hidayah, vol. iii, 467).

The will of a male apostate is not valid, but that of a female apostate is valid. (Hidayah, vol. iv, 537).

Narrated Abu Burda: .... The Prophet then sent Mu'adh bin Jabal after him and when Mu'adh reached him, he spread out a cushion for him and requested him to get down (and sit on the cushion). Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu'adh asked, "Who is this (man)?" Abu Muisa said, "He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism." Then Abu Muisa requested Mu'adh to sit down but Mu'adh said, "I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice. Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, "Then we discussed the night prayers and one of us said, 'I pray and sleep, and I hope that Allah will reward me for my sleep as well as for my prayers.'" (Sahih Bukhari 9.58, also Sahih Bukhari 9.271)

- Ali burnt them, but Muhammad said to kill him (with the sword).

Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people [hypocrites] 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.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' " (Sahih Bukhari 4.260)

When the desertion of the Hypocrites at Uhud nearly caused a diasaster to the Muslim cause, there was great feeling among the Muslims of Medina against them. One party wanted to put them to the sword; another to leave them alone. The actual policy pursued avoided both extremes, and was determined by these verses. It was clear that they were a danger to the Muslim community if they were admitted into its counsels, and in any case they were a source of demoralisation. But while every caution was used, no extreme measures were taken against them. On the contrary, they were given a chance of making good. If they made sacrifice for the cause ("flee from what is forbidden"), their conduct purged their previous cowardice, and their sincerity entitled them to be taken back. But if they deserted the Muslim community again, they were treated as enemies, with the additional penalty of desertion which is enforced by all nations actually at war." (Yusuf Ali's commentary on an-Nisa' 4:89)

Whoever turns back from his belief (irtada), openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find them, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard." (Al-Baidhawi, commentary on an-Nisa' 4:89, quoted by Samuel Zwemer, The Law of Apostasy in Islam, p.33f)

The persons spoken of in this passage are the apostates, or those who 'turn from their religion'. A wrong impression exists among non-Muslims, and among some Muslims as well, that the Holy Qur'an requires those who apostatize from Islam to be put to death, but this is not true....As the plain words of the Qur'an show, what is stated here is that the opponents of Islam exerted themselves to their utmost to turn back the Muslims from their faith by cruel persecutions, and therefore if a Muslim actually went back to unbelief he would be a loser in this life as well as in the next, because the desertion of Islam would not only deprive him of the spiritual disadvantages which he could obtain by remaining a Muslim, but also of the physical advantages which must accrue to the Muslims through the triumph of Islam. And neither here not anywhere else in the Holy Qur'an is there even a hint at the infliction of capital or any other punishment on the apostate." (Maulvi Muhammad Ali, The Holy Qur'an, Arabic text with English translation and Commentary, Ahmadiyya Anjuman-i-Ishaat-i-Islam, Lahore 1920, pp.98-99. Ahmadiyya is declared a non-Muslim community by the government of Pakistan)

Many Muslims believe that the Qur'an does not prescribe the death penalty for apostasy, except when they fight against the believers (
an-Nisa' 4:90). Any former Muslim who engages in proselytizing to Muslims will be considered to be fighting against believers. Others believe that the penalty is that the apostate is no under Muslim protection or obligated to avenge his death. The hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim, however, states that "if they change religion (islam), kill them." And not “if they wage war on Islam” as stated in the article

Please, as to make a comparison with another world religion, how Jesus reacted to someone that didn’t want to follow him:

"Forbidden is the blood of a Muslim person except under one of three (conditions) - a married person who commits adultery, a person in return for another, and one who has left his religion, separating from the community" (Bukhari and Muslim) (this is one of the forty chosen by al-Nawawi in his well-known collection. In Muslim it is "one who has left Islam")

"Forbidden is the blood of a Muslim person except under one of three - a man who has rejected belief after accepting islam, or commits fornication after marriage (lit. after chastity or fortified protection), or kills someone without (just basis due to) another." (Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nissa'i, ibn Majah reporting from Uthman. Others include ibn Abbas and abu Huraira and Anas ibn Malik).

* Some scholars have stipulated that the mere abandoning of the 5 prayers is enough to constitute abandoning Islam
. (The Hadiths above from A Collection of Knowledge and Wisdoms in Explanation of 60 Hadith of the Collections of the Word, by Zein al-Deen Aby Faraj Abdul-Rahman bin Shihaab ul-Din ibn Ahmad bin Rajab al-Hanbali al-Baghdadi, 795AH)

In pre-Islamic Arabia, most women lived at the sufferance of their husbands and male relatives. Although some women achieved wealth on their own--Khadija, Mohammed's first wife, was such a woman--most Arabian women could not inherit wealth, the bride price was given to the father, they could be divorced at will or kept unavailable to other men during a period after divorce, and they could be beaten with impunity. Mohammed took Arabian society as far as it could go in his time. Women are to be recognized as sui generis of the law; they may own their own property; they get to keep the dower, which the husband may not interfere with, even if he is indebted. Wives must be maintained according to their station. They cannot be abused. At most they can be physically chastised so long as there is no physical harm.

Have you forgotten the “beating of, an-Nisa' 4:34. (Yussuf Ali: beat [lightly]). However, as is clear from the translation, "lightly" is ADDED by Yusuf Ali and not in the text.

And even that is not seen as the morally preferable option in Islam. Polygamy, unlimited before Mohammed, is limited to four wives, but only if each wife can be maintained equally. A man may not marry a second wife if he has fear of injustice to his first wife and every man, were he honest with himself, should fear that he might commit such an injustice.

Slavery has been the universal unexceptionable norm throughout human history until recent times(actually it would still be officially in KSA, were it not for the western world) In fact sex with slaves allowed, al-Mu'minum 23:1-7. In fact even Muhammad himself both owned slaves and traded in slaves ( In the Qur’an, the slave must be well treated. Muslims cannot be enslaved by other Muslims after battle, for debt, or for any other reason. Another international norm at the time was universally observed by Christian armies, Muslim armies, and Persian armies: a soldier taken in battle can be killed, enslaved, let loose, or kept for ransom. There was no dissent to this proposition. The Muslims, however, were told in the Qur’an not to harm subject populations, monks, or any innocent civilians. A child of a slave cannot be separated from its mother in Islam. Manumission is meritorious; it overcomes sin and is counted among the good deeds in the balance of life upon which attaining paradise is dependent.

“In Muslim moral theology, one attains paradise according to the balance of good deeds over bad deeds.”

D. Forte here praises the sophisticated (eq. to complicated or confused) islamic theology, but he might have forgotten the issue of predestination: in fact:

Allah already decided who will enter Paradise and Hell,
al-A`raf 7:178-179
- deeds and predestination

Narrated 'Imran:I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Why should a doer (people) try to do good deeds?' The Prophet said, "Everybody will find easy to do such deeds as will lead him to his destined place for which he has been created.' (Sahih Bukhari 9.641also Sahih Bukhari 2.444 )

- versus Free Will,
Ibrahim 14:4; al-Mudathir 74:55-56; ad-Dahr 76:29-31; at-Takwir 81:27-29

** Muslims believed that Allah has decreed all things, good and evil from eternity, all that happens, whether obedience or disobedience, faith or infidelity, sickness or health, riches or poverty, life or death.

** History of this doctrine: ``When Muhammad died, this article was not yet included with the other five. About a century later, Muslim theologians argued much over it. One group, the Jabrites, plainly said that Allah decreed everything, good or bad, and that man had no choice to do anything except what Allah had willed for him. The Qadarite theologians did not agree. They said that evil and injustice cannot be blamed onto Allah, but were the result of man's own choice. But this raised another problem. If man chould choose to do right or wrong, then man also became a creator of actions, like Allah creates actions. No Muslim could agree to this.

A third group of Muslim theologians, the Ash'arites, agreed with the Jabrites that Allah had one will and could do as he please, either good or evil. But they wanted to allow for the fact that each man feels that he has the power to make his own choices. The Ash'arites concluded that, although Allah decrees for a man to do a thing, he also gives man the choice and desire to do it. In this way, each man becomes responsible for his own actions because he chose to do what Allah had decreed for him to do, even though he could do nothing else. This teaching is known by the Arabic word "kasb," which means "acquiring".

The conclusion of the Ash'arites that Allah had predetermined all things is what most Muslim theologians believe today. This explains why the Muslim so easily says, "Insha Allah," meaning "if Allah wills." It is the reason why the illness, accident, death, or good fortune are said to be from Allah. Belief in predestination gives Muslims great courage in times of terrible hardship or when everything seems to go wrong. The Muslim believes that his sufferings have come from Allah.

On the other hand, to soften the harshness of this belief in complete dependence on Allah and that man can do nothing to change his fate, many Muslims believe strongly in the protection of Qur'anic charms in this life and in the intercession of Muhammad and other "saints" in the Last Day.

Educated Muslims, who are trained in modern sciences, place more emphasis on human responsibility. They often believe that sickness or poverty, for example, are frequently the simple result of a man's ignorance or laziness. They prefer to believe that it is Allah's will for man to fight disease instead of simply accepting it as one's fate
.'' (Emory VanGerpen, Notes on Islam, 1975, pp.35-36)

There is no deathbed recantation. There can be a deathbed conversion that wipes out previous sins if one were not Muslim. But if one were a bad person all one's life, saying you're sorry on your deathbed is not going to do it. Islam has a sophisticated five-level sense of moral actions: there are some moral actions that are compulsory; others that are approved, that is , gain one moral credit; some actions are neutral; some are disapproved, what we call sins; and some are absolutely forbidden, which the state must proscribe. Manumission is approved. It gains a soul moral favor. But owning a slave is legal and morally neutral. It is permitted to enslave someone after a battle, but it is meritorious to manumit a slave.

So how did such a noble start come a cropper? How did tolerance become intolerance? How did protection become persecution? How did the dignity of women turn into indignity? How did limited war become massacre? It is not enough of an answer to say that there have always been bad Muslims and bad Christians and bad Jews. For the problem in Islam is that intolerance and indignity and the murder of a person because of his changed religious belief have gained authoritative sanction from some quarters.

Continues on Part II

Source: -