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Simon Cottee

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    Apostasy is a sin in Islam. The Quran, though it doesn't mandate a worldly punishment for apostasy, threatens eternal torture and damnation for Muslims who leave the faith. The four leading classical schools of Islamic law on which the sharia is based - the ShafiHanbaliMaliki and Hanafi - go even further, stipulating that the punishment for unrepentant apostasy .

    "She was hysterical," Aisha says of her mother's response. There was a lot of shouting and crying. Then, later, according to Aisha, her mother said, calmly: "Well, you can leave the religion, but it would mean losing us." She also told Aisha, as she remembers it, that "if you decide to come out and tell everyone about it then you had better face the consequences, because the ruling on apostasy in sharia is death. If anyone decides to carry that out, I won't stop them."

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