Punishment by death for apostasy from Islam is firmly rooted in Islam's foundational texts -- both the Koran (verses such as 2:217, 4:89, and their classical exegesis by renowned Koranic commentators such as Qurtubi, Baydawi, Ibn Kathir, and Suyuti) and the hadith (i.e., collections of the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as compiled by pious Muslim transmitters), as well as the sacred Islamic Law (the Shari'a). For example, Muhammad is reported to have said "Kill him who changes his religion," in hadith collections of both Bukhari and Abu Dawud. There is also a consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i), as well as Shi'ite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death. Averroes (d. 1198), the renowned philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist, provided this typical Muslim legal opinion on the punishment for apostasy:
"An apostate...is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet, ‘Slay those who change their din [religion]'...Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated as a condition...prior to his execution."
The contemporary (i.e., 1991) Al-Azhar (Cairo) Islamic Research Academy endorsed manual of Islamic Law, 'Umdat al-Salik (pp. 595-96) states:
"Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst.... When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory...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."
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