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Studies 16 October, 2011

Apostasy and the Freedom of Belief: A new Islamic perspective


The questions of apostasy and freedom of belief remain among the issues that have not been decided in the Muslim mind as of yet. These questions are of such importance and centrality in the lives of humans - socially, politically and legally - that they have been busying philosophers, thinkers, politicians, jurisprudents, jurists, and sociologists across the land of Islam and around the world. With this concern in mind, comes this specialized, philosophical, juridical and intellectual paper, which attempts to adopt a perspective of renewal, while being guided by the Book of the Lord and the Sunna of his Prophet, parting from the notion that philosophizing our religion is a duty, and that religiosity is philosophy.

One of the novel offerings of this work is clear evidence, leaving no room for doubt, that "there is no compulsion in religion", and that this is a general, determined, rational and legal rule that cannot be opposed or disputed, in whole or in part; for compulsion produces not religion, but hypocrisy and lies and deceit. Compulsion is a rot that erodes doctrines, since being forced to believe in a principle, whether as a tool for conversion or continued compliance, pushes men towards hypocrisy.

This paper also makes clear that the concept of apostasy in the age of the Prophet was mechanically linked to the opposition to Islam and battling it. At the time, the apostate did not remain in his home or mind the safety of his community, but rather joined the enemies of Islam. Based on that, the ruling of the execution of the apostate emerges from the fact that he was treated as an enemy soldier fighting in the enemies' ranks, and not due to his apostasy from Islam. As a result, applying such a rule (once we are aware of the context of its imposition) should solely be made in the case of the apostate who betrays the nation or fights against it; mere difference of opinion is the inevitable law of the Lord.

To read the full text, click on the image below.