I feel many actually don’t understand apostasy and the way it is implemented in Islam. Even the Muslims themselves are not much aware of this and so when they do something which is barbaric with their half baked knowledge, it ends up before the world as Islam being a cruel religion. Whereas in reality it isn’t!
Before I get into the topic, let me clear one thing, Islam is not actually a religion per se, based on today’s terminology, but a way of life that which governs every aspect of our lives from socioeconomic conditions, physical & spiritual well-being to the environmental things surrounding us. Islam in itself is just like a state; a state which governs everything of our lives. This was what it meant when it was revealed by Allah through the prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). I do agree many utilized the name of this state to materialize their own personal gains and did things which were against Islam. Ultimately that led to the downfall and it was only 100 years ago that this state was replaced with a modern secular state and so things changed and people limited Islam to just worshipping of God and unfortunately even the majority of Muslims agreed to this thought process and limited Islam to just worship.
Now to make it easy to understand the topic, I would like to ask everyone what is the punishment for treason in any country, especially the secular states. It’s death penalty! Why? That’s because when a person becomes threat to their nation or state then eliminating him is the best choice, as claimed by those who made the secular state and also those who imbibed it and supported that. Ain’t we see that jingoism happening within our country and elsewhere as well, “kill them they are traitors”. Now the same people raise their voice against apostasy in Islam that it’s cruel and sham of a religion. Now that’s what is called as hypocrisy, isn’t it?
Sadly those people haven’t yet known the actual truth and so, I can only pity them. Anyhow I will try to explain what’s apostasy in Islam. Apostasy means Riddah in Arabic. Now who is an apostate? One who leaves the faith after accepting it by their own choice. In Arabic, the person is known as Murtad. How does one leave faith? By stopping to believe in Allah and His messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) or does an act of blasphemy. We must realize that one who does it in an individual level and in secret then there is no court which actually hunts people down for their levels of faith. But when a person openly does it and motivates others to leave Islam and makes them disbelieve in Allah and His messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) , then he or she becomes an open apostate.
And as I have said before, Islam is a state and so when any person happens to be a threat to this state then executing him is the punishment which is decreed by law. The same law is adopted across the globe by secular states so one should not have any objection regarding the law when they have agreed upon the same for their nations. Now punishment cannot be meted out by any random individual but a khalifa or Imam or leader. Now in today’s world that has come to an end, so those who have adopted Islam as to govern their states, their council of judges pass the judgement based on evidence and then the king decrees on it.
We must take a note here, that any individual sometimes out of confusion or their mental or emotional status can do an act that might make him/her apostate. So as per the rules, they are counseled first to understand what misconceptions they have and the scholars try to resolve that issue for them. If the person agrees to come back to faith, then he has to make a sound repentance to Allah and then return to follow the faith sincerely. But incase the person still persists, then and only then they will be executed but execution can be done only by the decree of a ruler. So any random person or a mob cannot go and execute a person. If they do, then that’s a clear violation and they will also be punished accordingly.
I hope I have made it clear now. So we must always see what we are following ourselves before accusing others about their faith especially when people do not have the actual knowledge of a faith and assume that to be true what others do in the name of religion, which may actually be quite far away from the actual religion.
May Allah make it easy for us to understand the precious gift of Islam and value it and implement it in our lives.
© Dr. Nisar Ahmad bin Ibrahim