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THE PUNISHMENT OF THE APOSTATE ACCORDING TO ISLAMIC LAW

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE APOSTATE ACCORDING TO ISLAMIC LAW

Author(s):

Date Published: 
Sunday, 20 November, 1994
Summary: 

A. The Proof from the Qur'an for the Commandment to Execute the Apostate

Here I wish briefly to offer proof that will quiet the doubt in the hearts of those who, for lack of sources of information, may think that perhaps the punishment of death did not exist in Islam but was added at a later time by the "mawlawis" (religious leaders) on their own.

God Most High declares in the Qur'an:

 

But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief -- Lo! they have no binding oaths in order that they may desist. (9:11,12)[1]

The following is the occasion for the revelation of this verse: During the pilgrimage (hajj) in A.H. 9 God Most High ordered a proclamation of an immunity. By virtue of this proclamation all those who, up to that time, were fighting against God and His Apostle and were attempting to obstruct the way of God's religion through all kinds of excesses and false covenants, were granted from that time a maximum respite of four months. During this period they were to ponder their own situation. If they wanted to accept Islam, they could accept it and they would be forgiven. If they wanted to leave the country, they could leave. Within this fixed period nothing would hinder them from leaving. Thereafter those remaining, who would neither accept Islam nor leave the country, would be dealt with by the sword. In this connection it was said: "If they repent and uphold the practice of prayer and almsgiving, then they are your brothers in religion. If after this, however, they break their covenant, then war should be waged against the leaders of kufr (infidelity). Here "covenant breaking" in no way can be construed to mean "breaking of political covenants". Rather, the context clearly determines its meaning to be "confessing Islam and then renouncing it". Thereafter the meaning of "fight the heads of disbelief" (9:11,12) can only mean that war should be waged against the leaders instigating apostasy.[2]