Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws: Islam or Hislam?

How anti-Qur’anic rulings lead to negative misconceptions about Islam.

In January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him.

As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.

The Quran shows us that even though God’s prophets were mocked and threatened, they never killed their accusers for hurting their “religious sentiments.” In fact, the Quran opposes any laws that restrain freedom of speech or would have someone killed over differences in belief. Rather, Quran 73:10 says, “Be patient over what they say, and leave them graciously.”

So how did these blasphemy and apostasy laws come to be associated with Islam?

The blasphemy and apostasy laws are found in the Hadeeth, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad, which were compiled two-three centuries after his death. Muslims know that no Hadeeth should contradict the Quran if they are to be accepted, given their subjective nature and reliance on the Quran for authenticity.

But early scholars intentionally overlooked this to protect the interests of clergymen and political leaders. These oppressive laws allow them to exercise complete control over people, punishing anyone who threatens their position by declaring them apostates — enemies of Islam. To so many clergymen, religion is nothing but a means to gain power and control people. To keep out competition and force their monopoly, they invent laws in the name of God so “consumers” have no choice but to keep buying their “product.” Or face persecution.

Religious leaders like Tahir-ul-Qadri, a staunch proponent of blasphemy laws, rule people by fear. Add to that the fact that the average Muslim is unaware of the Quran’s teachings, which makes them likely to believe whatever the clergy tells them about Islam. Of these leaders, the Qur’an asks us to be weary: “O You who have believed! A great many religious leaders: rabbis, priests, monks, Mullahs, yogis, and mystics devour the wealth of people in falsehood, and bar them from the path of God” (Quran 9:34).

So what exactly does the Quran say about blasphemy and apostasy?

Quite frankly, blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an. Not in the traditional sense, but because they violate the very instructions the scripture gives regarding freedom of belief.

Regarding apostasy, in Quran 2:256 God says, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith. The right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces false authorities and becomes at peace with God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Knower.”

In a similar vein, verse 109:6 instructs adherents to end a debate by saying: “To you, your belief system. And to me, mine.”

If all that isn’t convincing enough, Quran 10:99 should seal the deal: “If your Lord willed, all who are on earth, would have believed (by not providing free will). Would you then, compel people to become believers?”

When it comes to blasphemy, I often hear some version of, “Hold on. If someone mocks my religion, it prompts me to act violently. You see, it makes me very emotional.”

But this statement only shows an ignorance of the Quran, which says in verse 6:68, “When you see them engaged in vain discourse about Our verses, turn away from them unless they engage in a different subject. If Satan ever makes you forget (i.e. your mind gets engrossed in their discourse,) then as soon as you recollect, no longer sit in the company of the people who confound the truth with falsehood.”

Here, Muslims are instructed to engage with these people if they change the topic. Certainly that means we’re not to have enmity towards them, let alone kill them!

And, again, Quran 28:55 instructs, “Whenever they (believers) hear vain talk of ridicule, they withdraw from it decently and say, ‘“To us our deeds and to you yours; Peace be upon you, we do not seek to join the ignorant.”

Those verses are practically shouting freedom of expression at the top of their lungs! Islam is a very progressive path to God, one in which differences in opinions and beliefs are accepted, not punished (Quran 39:18). On the other hand, blasphemy and apostasy laws lead to negative misconceptions about Islam being an oppressive faith.

But what are we Muslims to do? By not voicing our disapproval, we stand for these anti-Quranic laws and call them Islam. Is that not like setting your own house on fire? There is not a single verse that encourages Muslims to act violently toward those who leave Islam, or even mock the Quran. After all, shouldn’t truth be able to defend itself on its own merit? What good is a forced belief?

We can even take it a step further by noting how rejecters treated the prophets.

Of Prophet Nooh: “They said, ‘If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned’” (Quran 26:116).

Prophet Ibrahim’s father said, ”Do you dislike my gods, O Abraham? If you cease not, I will certainly cause you to be stoned to death! Now get away from me for good” (Quran 19:46). Similarly, the priesthood said of Ibrahim, “Burn him alive and uphold your gods if you are going to take any action” (Quran 21:68).

Regarding Prophet Musa, “[Pharaoh] said, ‘If you take a god/authority other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’” (Quran 26:29). To Musa’s followers, Pharaoh also said, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all” (Quran 26:49).”

These verses should reveal to us a different perspective: all prophets were seen as blasphemers and apostates to the prevalent religion of their time. To condone the oppressive laws of religious leaders today is to support ill treatment of the prophets. After all, you would’ve done the same!

And that’s the most ironic part. If a messenger were to come today, these clergymen and their ardent followers would utter the same threats to him. They have fabricated their own laws in the name of God, so when you ask them to reform, they either consider you a blasphemer or an apostate and have a fatwa issued to kill you.  That’s the scary thing about truth: it doesn’t warrant aggression but is always met with it.

This is not a matter of interpretation, as some would call it. The Quran condemns forced belief in numerous verses. Rather, this is a matter of giving preference to the Hadeeth over the Quran to justify bigotry and extremism in the name of Islam. Having said that, it’s up to you whether you want to rethink your stance or keep blindly following what you have been taught — whether you want to follow Islam or Hislam. Because unlike misguided religious fanatics, sincere believers never force their beliefs on others.

What’s the Golden Rule, again? “Any secondary source on Islam that goes against the Quran should be rejected.”

Often said, but seldom followed.

 

The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author.

Image courtesy of Cezary Piwowarski.

Ro Waseem
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  • Khairul Izzat

    agree agree agree. 100% agree!

  • muslimiq

    Great piece Ro. Hit the nail on the head.

  • Shafiqah Othman Hamzah

    This is great! Love how you added in that blasphemy laws were created given the political context of the time. I think it says a lot about the implementation of blasphemy laws in our current time as well.

  • Tony

    “As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.”

    I trust you have a better reason than your faith demands it.

    • Sam

      Why?

  • shuaib

    its realy thought provoking

  • Gul

    excellent true meaning of the Quran, our Nation in darkness, need educating to strive against blasphemy Laws added in Sharia…

  • mikelorrey

    Very well written and referenced. The west needs to see more of this, as does the muslim world.

  • killertofu88

    Good article…but why identify him as a “progressive” Muslim? We don’t need to call ourselves progressive or moderate Muslims if we’re actually following Islam. Progressives, just like the hard-liners, change Islam to fit their own whims and desires.

    • Mahmud

      Perhaps because you aren’t following Islam. If the apostasy law was so bad, why were members of Bani Israel killed for worshipping the calf? It’s a consensus of the Ummah and this Ummah does not gather upon error.

      If someone says, your reaction is the same as the disbelievers in the Quran, the difference is that disbelievers followed the religion of disbelief and Muslims follow the religion of truth. Therefore Muslims have a right to the apostasy law and disbelievers do not.

      • Rashid.M

        “If the apostasy law was so bad, why were members of Bani Israel killed for worshipping the calf?”

        Not because of any man-made blasphemy legislation. If God promises punishment for blasphemers, it hardly means that Muslims should pre-empt that Godly punishment by applying it, through subjective interpretation, on others themselves. By that logic, God’s promised punishment for disbelievers should be pre-empted by Muslims as well – i.e. anyone not willing to become Muslim (as defined by?) should be punished by Muslims (which ones?) for not believing. How nonsensical.

        “…the difference is that disbelievers followed the religion of disbelief and Muslims follow the religion of truth. Therefore Muslims have a right to the apostasy law and disbelievers do not.”

        But who will decide who is a disbeliever? (other than God). And who will decide who is and isn’t a Muslim? (other than God). And who will decide what is and isn’t blasphemy? (other than God). The use of the term ‘Ummah’ masks the reality that blasphemy laws have mostly been applied by persons professing to be Muslim upon other persons also professing to be Muslim. They have been used as an instrument to attack others because of personal disputes, to harness political support through rabble rousing a majority against a minority, and as an expression of outright religious bigotry. The so called “Muslim right to the apostasy law” over “disbelievers” is nothing more than an attack and clear contradiction of the Islamic principle of freedom of religion.

        • Mahmud

          1) “Not because of any man-made blasphemy legislation. If God promises punishment for blasphemers, it hardly means that Muslims should pre-empt that Godly punishment by applying it, through subjective interpretation, on others themselves. By that logic, God’s promised punishment for disbelievers should be pre-empted by Muslims as well – i.e. anyone not willing to become Muslim (as defined by?) should be punished by Muslims (which ones?) for not believing. How nonsensical.”

          The only nonsense is coming from you. The apostasy law isn’t man made-it’s from Allah. And in case you didn’t know, the Muslims of Bani Israel WERE commanded to attack the ones who apostatized. So you clearly know nothing.

          Allah promised punishment for blasphemers in the akhirah and commanded us to execute them in this life. Whether you believe or disbelieve, it won’t harm us Rashid.

          2) “But who will decide who is a disbeliever? (other than God). And who will decide who is and isn’t a Muslim? (other than God). And who will decide what is and isn’t blasphemy? (other than God)”

          We decide who disbelievers are based on our court judgements. Just like we judge who murderers are. If someone enters Judaism, Christianity or some other falsehood, he is a disbeliever. If we let this deen become a free for all so that your ilk could poison it, this deen would not spread very far. Alhamdulilah we have the command of Allah and His Messenger and the ways of the Sahaba RA to rid us of renegades. God judges, we act upon what we have been commanded. God commanded us to judge who disbelievers are therefore we judge according to what he commanded.

          3) “The so called “Muslim right to the apostasy law” over “disbelievers” is nothing more than an attack and clear contradiction of the Islamic principle of freedom of religion.”

          It’s not at all. Your imaginary principles have no bearing on this deen. If you disbelieve, no matter what deviation you try to insert into Islam you will never succeed. You can mislead man after man and that will only add burden to your burdens. And if you disbelieve under Shariah law you will be brought to court and executed-that’s just a fact and a command from Allah and His Messenger. It’s your own problem and burden to bear if you cannot accept it.

          • Rashid.M

            >>”The only nonsense is coming from you. The apostasy law isn’t man made-it’s from Allah. And in case you didn’t know, the Muslims of Bani Israel WERE commanded to attack the ones who apostatized. So you clearly know nothing.”

            I’m not sure which ‘apostasy law’ you’re speaking of. The blasphemy laws of Pakistan are entirely man made. They weren’t revealed by Allah to anyone. When were the calf worshippers of Bani Israel killed by others for apostasy? A reference from the Quran would be useful to back up your assertion.

            The Quran mentions their admonishment by Moses(as):

            “And when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people, you have indeed wronged yourselves by taking the calf for worship; turn thee therefore to your Maker, and kill your evil desires, that is best for you in the sight of your Maker’”. – Holy Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah 2:58

            The Quran mentions God’s forgiveness of them:

            “The People of the Book ask thee to bring down upon them a Book from Heaven. They asked Moses a greater thing than this. They said, ‘Show us Allah openly’. Thereupon a destructive punishment overtook them because of their transgression. Then they took the calf for worship after clear Signs had come to them, but We pardoned even that. And We gave Moses manifest authority.” – Holy Quran, Surah Al-Nisa 4:154

            And the Quran mentions the banishment by Moses(as) of Samiri who had led the others astray in the calf worship:

            “Moses said , ‘Begone then! It shall be thine all this life to say to everyone, ‘Touch me not,’ and there is a promise of punishment for thee which shall not fail to be fulfilled about thee”. – Holy Quran, Surah Ta Ha 20:98

            >>”Allah promised punishment for blasphemers in the akhirah and commanded us to execute them in this life. Whether you believe or disbelieve, it won’t harm us Rashid”

            I have no desire to harm you. The issue is your desire to harm anyone you deem to be blaspheming. And the immediate issue in this discourse is the lack of any references on your part for this alleged commandment by Allah to execute blasphemers.

            >>”We decide who disbelievers are based on our court judgements. Just like we judge who murderers are”

            Actually murderers are judged according to criminal law and evidence – something you have so far failed to provide. And you still haven’t answered who the “we” and “our” are that you speak of. Do all Muslims (of whatever school or sect) have a right to accuse any other Muslim of blasphemy? Or is this right reserved only for those ‘you’ deem to be Muslim – i.e. not those ‘so called’ Muslims whose beliefs differ and therefore might be so offended by ‘your’ beliefs as to consider them blasphemous?

            In essence your argument runs like this: We will decide what the true religion is; therefore we will decide who is Muslim; therefore we will decide what is blasphemous and offensive; therefore we will decide who can be killed for violating this. Does that about sum it up?

            >>”…. if you disbelieve under Shariah law you will be brought to court and executed-that’s just a fact and a command from Allah and His Messenger. It’s your own problem and burden to bear if you cannot accept it.”

            My reason for not accepting it is because it has no basis in Islam. Because the Quran explicitly provides freedom of conscience (2:257) and relates how that which you propose has always been the way of the opponents of truth. The way of those who are so insecure and afraid of people exercising free will and abandoning them, that they demand acceptance of ‘their truth’ by means of force and by threats of violence. My reason for not accepting it is because it does not create more pious persons (force never does) but rather only silences through oppression, and encourages the creation of those who Allah most dislikes – hypocrites. It is not the way to Islam but the way to injustice in the name of Islam. In the end peaceful teachings will win. Force and violence will not. And having to bear it in the meantime will not be enough to change my mind.

          • Mahmud

            1) If you are a Quranist you are a kaffir so there is no point discussing this with you

            2) A kaffir rejects the ayat of Allah or disbelieves in any way

            3) The apostasy law IS part of the Shariah

            4) The followers of Musa alayhisalam who didn’t commit apostasy were commanded to attack those who did. This was AFTER those apostates repented. Their repentance was accepted as they took the punishment that was dealt to them. Your ignorant interpretation of la ikraha fid deen does not not affect this.

            5) It’s you who is an opponent of the truth. Apparently to you Allah is afraid because he threatens disbelievers with Jahannam? Musa alayhisalam was afraid because he commanded the non-apostates to kill the former apostates??

          • Rashid.M

            Ok so I guess you’re not going to provide any references (Quranic or otherwise) to back up your assertions? I’m particularly interested in any reference you can provide which upholds the validity of killing apostates, and therefore explains or invalidates the Quranic injunction for freedom of conscience.

            >>”We humans were given the power to judge based on what is apparent.”

            ….and still I await your explanation for who the “We” is you repeatedly speak of. If God gave the power to “humans”, then all humans have this right to judge. If you only mean Muslims in general, then Muslims in general should have the power to judge other Muslims like yourself and charge you with blasphemy if they are offended by your beliefs, speech or actions. If you mean only specific Muslims, then I ask again, who will decide who these specific Muslims are?

            >>”1) If you are a Quranist you are a kaffir so there is no point discussing this with you

            2) A kaffir rejects the ayat of Allah or disbelieves in any way”

            I am not a ‘Quranist’, i.e. rejecting all other than the Quran. I hold the Quran as primary and ultimate in authority and guidance. All else I use to explain and strengthen it, but never to supersede it. The originality, divinity and truth of the Quran is guaranteed by God. No such guarantee is given regarding humanly transmitted Hadith and practice (Sunnah). Therefore in any case of unresolvable contradiction, the Quran prevails.

            “Verily, We Ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian” (Al-Hijr, 15:10)

            It’s puzzling to me as to why you’ve bothered to engage in any conversation at all since your circular reasoning dictates that anyone who disagrees with your interpretation of Islam is a ‘kaffir’, and discussions with ‘kaffirs’ is pointless.

            >>”5) It’s you who is an opponent of the truth. Apparently to you Allah is afraid because he threatens disbelievers with Jahannam? Musa alayhisalam was afraid because he commanded the non-apostates to kill the former apostates??”

            No not what I said at all. I said those persons who rely on threats and violence to force people to either believe the ‘truth’, or to stay ‘Muslims like them’, are frightened by the idea of people exercising free will in belief, leaving their fold, and lessening their grip on control and power.

          • Mahmud

            “Ok so I guess you’re not going to provide any references (Quranic or otherwise) to back up your assertions? I’m particularly interested in any reference you can provide which upholds the validity of killing apostates, and therefore explains or invalidates the Quranic injunction for freedom of conscience.”

            The example of Bani Israel in the Quran is ONE example. Unfortunately, if I put a link here I think my comment will be put under moderation. However I can give you boatloads of evidence(if you are sincere) if you contact me by [email protected]. In any case, your misunderstanding of la ikraha fid deen isn’t doing you any favors. You can extrapolate whatever principle you fancy exists in the Quran, your whims do not make it a reality.

            “….and still I await your explanation for who the “We” is you repeatedly speak of. If God gave the power to “humans”, then all humans have this right to judge. If you only mean Muslims in general, then Muslims in general should have the power to judge other Muslims like yourself and charge you with blasphemy if they are offended by your beliefs, speech or actions. If you mean only specific Muslims, then I ask again, who will decide who these specific Muslims are?”

            It’s not heart surgery. If someone says “I believe it’s ok to have gay sex”, he is a disbeliever because he disbelieved to ayat of Allah aza wa jal. That’s just one example. He can be excused if he literally did not know of the ayat/just entered Islam and was fed false information and what not. There is a principle known as excusing due to ignorance. But in general, the decision is up to qadi’s(Islamic judges) who have years of scholarly credentials behind them. Someone can label another a kaffir but no ruling takes place until the case is brought before a judge.

            “It’s puzzling to me as to why you’ve bothered to engage in any conversation at all since your circular reasoning dictates that anyone who disagrees with your interpretation of Islam is a ‘kaffir’, and discussions with ‘kaffirs’ is pointless.”

            Minor disagreements will always exist. Major disagreements are often kufr. Example of that is the permissibility of gay sex. And do you have a nasty nack of putting words in other people’s mouths? I don’t believe discussions with kaffirs are pointless. Where did I say that? It might be convenient to follow your sunnah of conversations and pretend you said a load of nonsense and then refute it. But I prefer honesty.

            “No not what I said at all. I said those persons who rely on threats and violence to force people to either believe the ‘truth’, or to stay ‘Muslims like them’, are frightened by the idea of people exercising free will in belief, leaving their fold, and lessening their grip on control and power.”

            The same classical argument used against Christians. Well, although they have abandoned the command of Allah and His Messenger, we do not. You can cast your aspersions on the motivations of those who follow Allah’s command. For sure, while some may be obeying Allah because He commanded them, others may be doing so for power, wealth and so on. Individual motivations are for Allah aza wa jal to judge. We Muslims judge based on what is apparent.

          • Rashid.M

            >>”The example of Bani Israel in the Quran is ONE example. Unfortunately, if I put a link here I think my comment will be put under moderation. However I can give you boatloads of evidence(if you are sincere) if you contact me by [email protected]. In any case, your misunderstanding of la ikraha fid deen isn’t doing you any favors. You can extrapolate whatever principle you fancy exists in the Quran, your whims do not make it a reality.”

            Sorry, not following you at all. How does the example of Bani Israel validate the Quranic injunction for freedom of conscience? And if it doesn’t, how do you reconcile the contradiction? The only “links” I’ve asked for are references from the Quran supported by hadith. If you have any of those, I’m sure they wont be moderated. You keep repeating that I’ve misunderstood la ikraha fid deen while not providing any explanations of it yourself. I’m not asking for favors – just a credible explanation.

            >>”…in general, the decision is up to qadi’s(Islamic judges) who have years of scholarly credentials behind them. Someone can label another a kaffir but no ruling takes place until the case is brought before a judge.”

            Again you haven’t addressed the question. Who will be allowed to appoint the judges? Who will not? What if one group of Muslims appoints a different set of judges to another group of Muslims, and each set of judges declare the other group and set to be kaffirs? Which set of judges will be correct? What if other groups then do the same? Where and, more importantly how, does it end?

            >>” And do you have a nasty nack(sic) of putting words in other people’s mouths? I don’t believe discussions with kaffirs are pointless. Where did I say that? It might be convenient to follow your sunnah of conversations and pretend you said a load of nonsense and then refute it. But I prefer honesty.”

            Glad to hear it, but I asked the question regarding you pointlessly engaging in discussions with kaffirs based on the following -

            You said: “If you are a Quranist you are a kaffir so there is no point discussing this with you”. The first part of your statement makes explicit that, according to you, all Quranists are kaffirs. The second part of your statement uses the conjunction ‘so’ to link being a kaffir with pointless discussion. If you are now saying that you meant only to say the first part and did not intend to use incorrect grammar to link it to the meaning of the second part, then I am happy to accept that was your intention. Not a big deal. But at least acknowledge that that’s what you wrote rather than accusing others of misspeaking for you.

            >>”We Muslims judge based on what is apparent.”
            At the risk of repeating myself again and again, who is the “We” you speak of?? If all Muslims can judge based on what is apparent to them, and different conclusions are reached, including about each other, which Muslims (all holding different conclusions) will have the right to declare blasphemy on the others and demand their punishment, including death? Which Muslims will not have this right?
            The truth is the only way to achieve this utopian Islamic society that you describe, is for the followers of one interpretation of Islam to forcibly purge their society of all other Muslims of differing interpretations. And this would be done by invoking upon them the labels of kaffirs, blasphemers and apostates. The belief in a right to punish disbelievers, apostates, blasphemers etc. is an implicit declaration of an exclusive right to judge the definitions of these terms, and to judge who falls within them. Such an ideology has more in common with medieval Christianity and fascism than the teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam.

          • Mahmud

            Ok, my bad about the Quranist part. What I mean to say is that a Quranist has bigger problems. It’s like arguing with a two-year old about multivariable calculus or arguing with a Christian about zakah. They aren’t at that level.

            “Sorry, not following you at all. How does the example of Bani Israel validate the Quranic injunction for freedom of conscience? And if it doesn’t, how do you reconcile the contradiction? The only “evidence” I’ve asked for is references from the Quran supported by hadith. If you have any of those, I’m sure they wont be moderated. You keep repeating that I’ve misunderstood la ikraha fid deen while not providing any explanations of it yourself. I’m not asking for favors – just a credible explanation.”

            The ones who didn’t commit apostasy by worshipping the calf were commanded to attack and kill those who did worship the calf. If we had “freedom of religion” in your sense, then why were they killed for merely worshipping a golden cow?

            “Again you haven’t addressed the question. Who will be allowed to appoint the judges? Who will not? What if one group of Muslims appoints a different set of judges to another group of Muslims, and each set of judges declare the other group and set to be kaffirs? Which set of judges will be correct? What if other groups then do the same? Where and, more importantly how, does it end?”

            Ruler obviously appoints judges. Fourth sentence is incoherent. The judges who judge by the consensus of scholars are correct. The judges who judge a kaffir to be a kaffir are correct. It’s not brain surgery. Someone denying Allah and His Messenger in any way is a kaffir. It ends when Allah decrees it to end.

            “The truth is, the only way to achieve this utopian Islamic society that you describe, is for the followers of one interpretation of Islam to forcibly purge their society of all other Muslims of differing interpretations. And this would be done by invoking upon them the labels of kaffirs, blasphemers and apostates. The belief in a right to punish disbelievers, apostates, blasphemers etc. is an implicit declaration of an exclusive right to judge the definitions of these terms, and to judge who falls within them. Such an ideology has more in common with medieval Christianity and fascism than the teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam.”

            Faith wise, there is only one proper interpreatiion. We can’t have renegades claiming other prophets exist or that it’s ok to worship cows. The judges who have studied Islam have the right to judge who is a kaffir and who is a Muslim. This is 100% in line with the teachings of an-Nabi SAW and Islam.

            Now, your fanciful future imaginations don’t affect this reality.

            Imam Abdullah Hasan

            The notion that the punishment of apostasy nullifies or precludes the concept of freedom of religion that is mentioned in the Qur’an: The notion that sentencing of the Apostate to death breaches the Qur’anic spirit of ‘la ikraha fiddin’ is not quite tenable. The nafiy [negation] of ikrah [compulsion] has occurred in the general mode. The preposition used is [La], which is an indefinite composed negation that is from the modes of ‘umum [generality]. All of the usuliyyun agree to this [that being from the mode of ‘umum] other than al-Qarafi who disagrees in considering the indefinite negation which indicates to the general except in certain modes [siyaqat], however, the ‘umum [general statements] must indicate to a type from its genus, and this is qati’ and is agreed by all scholars. Therefore, here it indicates to the affirmation that it is not valid to coerce or compel a person to embrace Islam or to force a person to move from one religion to another. Hence the Mufassirun have deduced that ikrah of people to remain in the religion is not equal to as compelling someone to embrace Islam. This was explained by Shaykhul Islam Muhammad Tahir ibn ‘Ashur in at-tahrir wat-tanwir.

            None of the scholars of the past has understood these verses in the manner they have been purported by some. As far as we are aware, this understanding is in contrast to the principles of usul al-fiqh and the rules [Qawi’d] of the Arabic Language.

          • Mahmud

            “In essence your argument runs like this: We will decide what the true religion is; therefore we will decide who is Muslim; therefore we will decide what is blasphemous and offensive; therefore we will decide who can be killed for violating this. Does that about sum it up?”
            It sums it up in your imagination. We humans were given the power to judge based on what is apparent. There are two types of apostates-an open murtad and a hypocrite. The latter is not killed the former is because his kufr has become apparent. Allah and His Messenger explained to us what kufr is. Therefore we judge by it.

  • Mirza

    I am sure the writer doesn’t live in the land of the pure!

    • DannyEastVillage

      land of the pure? what land of the pure? is there a land of the pure? a lot of people think “their” country of “their” religion or what-have-you is the only right one. People have always said such silly things. Think you’re any different?

    • DannyEastVillage

      Which writer? The writer of the Qu’ran?

  • Larryinchicago

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a Christian but do not accept the stereotyping of Islam. I know that the extreme groups do not speak for the whole. However I have waited years to read an article like this. I am sure there must be me somewhere, but I have never come across one. we need to hear moderate Muslims speak up about these issues. So I hope you will continue… All of you… I hope you will inundate American society with your moderate views and condemnation of the extremes that you mentioned above. Please continue to speak and to put it into print everywhere you can, getting on air as much as possible… Because I am in an increasingly small minority of people that do not reject Islam based on the extreme and loud voices of those who harm it.