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The Application of the Apostasy Law in t...

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The Application of the Apostasy Law in the World Today

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The Application of the Apostasy Law in the World Today

Article Index

The Application of the Apostas...

Muslim states and apostasy

State Case Studies

Individual case studies

Muslims deviating from orthodo...

Sectarian groups in Islam

Non-Muslims insulting Islam

Conclusion

References

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"We always remind those who want to convert to Islam that they enter through a door but there is no way out".[1]

Introduction[2]

Since modernization first emerged in the Muslim world following Western imperialism and its imposition of secular laws and education systems, there have been tensions between Muslim conservatives and liberal intellectuals. In contemporary Muslim societies it is Islamic fundamentalists (Islamists) who defend Islamic political culture against western incursions and who most vehemently oppose westernisation. While liberals try to modernize Islam, Islamists want to Islamise modernity, calling for a return to Islam's source texts and early political model, as well as demanding full implementation of Shari'ah in the state. Early reformers tried to reconcile Islam with modernity using the flexible principles of reason and the public good to reinterpret Shari'ah along modern lines. Contemporary liberals argue that Shari'ah laws are human interpretations of the eternally fixed principles of Islam, so they can be changed to fit modern contexts. It is only the basic principles that are immutable.

Islamists see Shari'ah itself as divinely inspired and unchangeable, valid for all times and places, and they attack the liberal position. In recent decades, as Islamists gained in strength, the arguments have shifted from the sphere of literary and media polemics to that of violence and legal prosecutions. Islamists now charge their opponents with apostasy (irtidad), blasphemy andunbelief (kufr), and heresy (ilhad) - all of which are crimes under Shari'ah that incur the death penalty.

Muslims and apostasy

For most contemporary Muslims across the spectrum of beliefs and ideologies, apostasy still carries shocking and dreadful associations as a most abhorrent sin. Even for modernists and secularists it carries negative connotations of betrayal of one's community and rejection of one's heritage. This attitude explains why so few Muslim voices are ever raised in defence of those accused of apostasy. Among the Muslim masses apostasy, like jihad, is still a popular notion that is bound to raise emotions and outbursts of violence and which can therefore be manipulated by those who see themselves as defenders of traditional Islam or by those who could benefit from the downfall of the accused. Theologically, in Islam this is one of the few sins God cannot forgive as it refuses Him and His mercy.[3]

In Islamic jurisprudence and tradition apostasy (irtidad) has always been linked to the concepts of unbelief, blasphemy and heresy (all combined under the term kufr), which are sometimes used interchangeably. In a sense kufr is the category while apostasy, blasphemy and heresy are its sub-categories. Legally, blasphemy is a ta'zir offence (where the judge has flexibility in determining the punishment),while apostasy is normally considered a hadd offence (where the punishment is seen as fixed by God).[4] All are regarded as severe crimes, but there is unanimous consensus that apostasy is punishable by death under Shari'ah hudud laws. In practice the death penalty is not often implemented, but depriving the apostates of all their civil rights is commonly practised. While apostasy, blasphemy and heresy are distinct terms in English, in Arabic kafir is often used to generally describe an apostate, a blasphemer or a heretic, and all three are closely linked in the minds of Muslims as interchangeable categories, which is why they are often combined in prosecutions in spite of the different categories of Shari'ah criminal law they fall under.[5]

While apostate (murtadd) usually refers to a Muslim who has officially converted to another faith, thus becoming a kafir, others who claim to be good Muslims can be accused of unbelief, blasphemy and heresy as well as of apostasy for various other causes, including scepticism, atheism, ascribing partners or associates to God, and not fully implementing Shari'ah. Some authorities list 300 different acts that could make a person a kafir,thus leaving the door wide open for denouncing other Muslims as infidels liable to the death penalty in a process known as takfir.[6]In many cases multiple charges of apostasy, blasphemy, unbelief, heresy and of insulting Islam and Muhammad are brought against the accused, thus giving the judges greater flexibility in deciding under which category to define the crime and to help ensure that the accused does get convicted for something. A feature of accusations of apostasy and blasphemy is the way they are often uncritically accepted as true by members of the police and of the criminal justice system, with little or no evidence required.[7]

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    • Father God, we pray for Meriam Ibrahim and her family in Sudan as they face a very uncertain future. We thank You that Meriam was cleared on appeal of the charges of adultery and apostasy that were laid against her and that she was spared from flogging and execution. But we pray that the new charges of forgery and false information relating to her travel documents will also be dismissed and that the family will be free to leave Sudan and begin a new life elsewhere. We pray that You will keep her safe in the meantime from those who have threatened her with death. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 28 minutes ago

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    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

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