Barnabas Fund - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
Muslim Leader Argues For Tolerance For A...

Email:

Muslim Leader Argues For Tolerance For Apostates From Islam

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Muslim Leader Argues For Tolerance For Apostates From Islam

The ongoing Lina Joy case in Malaysia (see last two communiques) and the recent trial for apostasy of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan has brought international attention to the issue of how Islam treats apostates. In both cases it has been notable that most Muslim scholars and leaders argued that a Muslim does not have the right to change his religion, and that leaving Islam should be punished with the death penalty. However, in a recent article a Muslim scholar, Dr Louay Safi, has argued that apostasy should be permitted.

Dr Louay Safi is based in America and is the executive director of the Islamic Society of North America's Leadership Development Centre. His article, "The Politics and Morality of Apostasy", attacks those scholars who argue that leaving Islam should be punishable by death. Dr Safi argues that "at the heart of the apparent conflict between Islamic traditions is a static and stagnant approach to understanding Islamic law. The conflict stems mainly from a literalist understanding of the revelatory sources, that is the Qur'an and the Sunnah (the Prophet tradition), and the body of Islamic jurispendence derived from them through exercise of juristic reasoning". Thus, scholars with literalist interpretations continue to argue that the punishment for apostasy and the role of Islamic shari'a law should be the same as it was during the classical period of early Islamic history. It is an essentially static model which cannot be changed to meet the demands of the modern world.

Dr Safi claims that this interpretation has taken hold across the Islamic world because autocratic rulers often align themselves to literalist scholars to "perpetuate a rigid and anti-reform agenda in Muslim societies." Dr Safi notes that scholars who are prepared to reject the literalist interpretation are being marginalised in Muslim countries, and even in the West where governments tend to ignore Muslims who are seeking to make Islam a more tolerant religion.

Dr Safi argues that the Qur'an does not support the death penalty for apostasy. Rather, it is based upon two hadiths (statements attributed to Muhammad) and the precedent of Muslims fighting against Arab apostates in early Islamic history. Dr Safi feels that the hadith statements "cannot stand as credible evidence" because he thinks they contradict the Qur'an, which he interprets as arguing for individual religious freedom.

The conclusion that Dr Safi reaches is that it is vital that Muslim scholars reconsider their attitude towards religious freedom:

"Although medieval Christian Europe practiced coercion to force reverse conversions to Christianity, modern societies recognise the freedom of religion of all citizens. Muslims scholars have the obligation to reconsider modern reality and reject any attempt to revive historical claims rooted in classical jurisprudence that are clearly at odds with Qur'anic principles and Islamic spirit, and with modern society and international conventions and practices. It would be a tragedy, for both social peace in Muslim societies and world peace in an increasingly diverse global society, if religious communities embrace practices that limit freedom of religion and adopt measures that rely on coercion to maintain the integrity of religious communities."

It can only be hoped that other Muslim scholars and leaders follow Dr Safi's lead and show the courage to argue that converts from Islam should have the right to change their religion without facing fear of death or persecution. While reformers such as Dr Safi are currently isolated and marginalised, it is imperative that everything possible is done to support them.

 

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Muslim Leader Argues For Tolerance For Apostates From Islam

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

No related articles found

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Pray for a church in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, whose building has been confiscated by the authorities, who claim that the sales contract signed more than 14 years ago was invalid. The seizure of the building may be motivated by hostility to the congregation’s Christian activities, but the incentive could also be financial; the building now has a market value of around US$1 million. The State Property Fund, which originally owned it, has said the church will get back only the US$46,000 it paid 14 years ago. The church insists it has fulfilled the terms of the contract. Pray for the congregation, that their place of worship will be restored to them and that God will protect them from further harassment. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

    • Give thanks to the Lord that Barnabas Fund is able to help oppressed and persecuted Christian communities by providing grants to Christian students in higher education. Pray for those who have received this help in the past, that they will give a voice to their brothers and sisters and will help to resource, empower and protect them in the face of hostility. Ask that God’s sustaining grace will uphold those who are currently studying, often under severe pressure from the majority community, and pray that they may be equipped for spiritual leadership. Praise God for their dedication to His service, and ask Him to use them powerfully in their various vocations. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Almighty God, we pray that You will protect Your people in the Holy Land. We pray especially for the congregation of a church in Gaza City, whose church compound was attacked with a small explosive device on 26 February. We give You thanks that the church, school, nursery and pastor’s house were undamaged and that a fi re that was lit under the pastor’s car was extinguished when Christians came outside to investigate. We pray that the congregation may stand firm for You in the face of the threatening message that was written on the wall facing the church gate: “We’ll get you soon, O worshippers of the cross.” We ask that there will be no further attempt to attack this church or others in the area. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Taliban militants attempted to attack a Christian-run day-care centre in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 28 March, saying it was “a church used to convert Muslims to Christianity”. The attackers mistakenly targeted the next-door building, which houses workers on an agricultural and de-mining project, instead; two Afghan civilians, one a young girl, died in the crossfi re. All five Taliban bombers were also killed in the raid on the heavily-secured compound. The day-care centre that they were attempting to target, which is used by expatriates, is said to hold Christian worship services on certain days. Ask the Lord to change the hearts of those who plan and carry out terrorist attacks against Christians and other targets in Afghanistan; pray that they will turn instead to Him. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Jul 2014 00:00

    • “He was always a light for Christ and he had a love and commitment that he expressed for the Afghan people because of that love for Christ.” The widow of Dr Jerry Umanos, an American doctor who was shot dead at the Christian-run hospital where he worked in Kabul, Afghanistan, spoke of her husband’s faith and ministry. Two visiting American Christians, father and son Gary and John Gabel, were also killed on 24 April when an Afghan security guard opened fire on the staff he was meant to be protecting. Pray for comfort for the grieving families of the three men, and ask the Lord to safeguard the future of the hospital, which provides much-needed medical care and also trains Afghan doctors and nurses. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Jul 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Fund 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Fund & Barnabas Aid are registered trade marks