The Book of Prof Shad.docx

Are those who were not merely renegades from the

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are those who were not merely renegades from the faith but also in active opposition to the Muslims, having joined the warring disbelievers’ camp. Their case would fall within the purview of verse 33 of Surah al-Ma’idah 69 (which prescribes the death penalty for those who wage war against God). If there still are some doubts about the Noble Prophet’s attitude towards apostasy, reference may be made to the Treaty of Hudaybiyah signed by the Prophet to permit converts to depart freely to join the non- Muslim community. The Treaty also contained a clause that if someone from Madinah defects from Islam and seeks protection in Makkah, the Quraish would not return him. 70 However, in the era after the demise of the Noble Prophet, new interpretations took hold. The Caliphs and the jurists interpreted the Qur’anic verses and the hadith to imply that punishment for apostasy was mandatory in Islam. They made no distinction between peaceful conversions and violent defections. However, they disagreed on whether the punishment for apostasy was death or a lesser penalty. Some jurists also distinguished between male and female apostates, reserving the harsher penalty for males. 65 S A Rahman, supra , 54, 55, 61, 65, 66, 67, 71, 72, 73, 76. Professor Heffening in his article on “Murtadd” in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (1932) says that “there are traditions according to which even the Prophet forgave apostates,” and he cites al-Nasai ( Tahrim al-Dam , Bab 14, 15), Abu Dawud ( Al- Hudud , Bab 1), Ibn Hanbal (I, 247) and Tafsir al-Tabari (III, 223). 66 Sharh al-Zayla’i ala Kanz al-Daqa’iq , 111, 285. Quoted in S A Rahman, supra , 55 67 Mohamed S El-Ewa, Punishment in Islamic Law , American Trust Publication, 1982, pp. 51-53 68 S A Rahman, supra , 77 69 S A Rahman, supra , 61 70 S A Rahman, supra, 72 64
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These juristic views are difficult to reconcile with the Holy Qur’an’s exquisite message of religious tolerance. A stream cannot be higher than its source. The fiqh (juristic opinion) cannot override the syariah (revealed law). The syariah is revealed, sacred, eternal and universal. The figh is mundane, temporal, based on social norms and subject to change. A few Muslim governments like Saudi and Afghanistan have legislated death for apostasy. But the majority of Muslim nations leave the matter at advising and counseling. They rest their laws on the view of scholars who interpret Prophet Muhammad’s hadith to refer to situations when apostasy was combined with rebellion against the state. A belligerent murtad is punishable but not one that defects peacefully. The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Shaikh Muhammed Sayyed Tantawi is of the view that “action should not be taken against apostates on the basis that they renounced Islam. Only when they insult Islam or try to destroy the religion, one should act against them”. 71 Historical dimension : Till the early 1980’s, Muslim Enactments in several states recognized apostasy by imposing a simple registration requirement on all who entered the faith and all who exited from it. But in the eighties with Islamisation catching on, the unilateral right to register a renunciation was repealed.
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