Praise be to Allaah.
We thank you for your confidence in us and for sending this
question to us, and we appreciate your being intrigued by our beliefs and
your eagerness to find out the answer. We welcome you as a visitor and
reader and learner.
What stood out from your letter is that you are impressed
with the religion of Islam. This is a good sign for us and for you. We are
happy for our religion to reach people like you who are seeking for the
truth. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us
that this religion would reach all places on this earth. It was narrated
that Tameem al-Daari said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘This matter (i.e., Islam) will
certainly reach everywhere that night and day reach, and Allaah will not
leave any house or tent [i.e., all dwellings, in towns and in the desert],
but Allaah will cause this religion to enter it, and some people will be
honoured because of it [by converting] and others will be humiliated because
of it [for refusing to embrace it], and they will be ruled by the Muslims,
an honour which Allaah will bestow on Islam and a humiliation which He will
inflict on kufr (disbelief).”
(Narrated by Ahmad, 16344; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in
al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 3).
In your case, your admiration for Islam will motivate you to
find out what this pure monotheistic religion teaches, and how it is in
accordance with sound human nature and common sense. We advise you to avoid
completely and preconceptions that may influence you and take your time in
reading about the teachings of the Islamic religion. Perhaps you could read
material on this site about Islam, such as questions no.
With regard to your question, “However, I find it difficult
to comprehend how a man can be sentenced to death for speaking. I would have
thought that we as humans do not have that right to make those decisions,
only god can” – what you say is correct, because no-one has the right to
condemn another person to death without evidence from the Book of Allaah and
the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
The ruling of execution because of a word that somebody
utters is what the Muslim scholars call al-riddah (apostasy). What is
apostasy and what constitutes apostasy? What is the ruling on the apostate
1 – Riddah (apostasy) refers to when a Muslim becomes a
disbeliever by saying a clear statement to that effect, or by uttering words
which imply that (i.e., which imply kufr or disbelief), or he does something
that implies that (i.e., an action which implies kufr or disbelief).
2 – What constitutes apostasy
The matters which constitute apostasy are divided into four
Apostasy in beliefs, such as
associating others with Allaah, denying Him, or denying an attribute which
is proven to be one of His attributes, or by affirming that Allaah has a
son. Whoever believes that is an apostate and a disbeliever.
Apostasy in words, such as
insulting Allaah or the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be
Apostasy in actions, such as
throwing the Qur’an into a filthy place, because doing that shows disrespect
towards the words of Allaah, so it is a sign that one does not believe.
Other such actions include prostrating to an idol or to the sun or moon.
Apostasy by omission, such as
not doing any of the rituals of Islam, or turning away from following it
3 – What is the ruling on the apostate?
If a Muslim apostatizes and meets the conditions of apostasy
– i.e., he is of sound mind, an adult and does that of his own free will –
then his blood may be shed with impunity. He is to be executed by the Muslim
ruler or by his deputy – such as the qaadi or judge, and he is not to not be
washed (after death, in preparation for burial), the funeral prayer is not
to be offered for him and he is not to be buried with the Muslims.
The evidence that the apostate is to be executed is the words
of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever
changes his religion, execute him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2794). What is
meant by religion here is Islam (i.e., whoever changes from Islam to another
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who bears witness
that there is no god except Allaah and that I am His Messenger, except in
one of three cases: a soul for a soul (i.e., in the case of murder); a
married man who commits adultery; and one who leaves his religion and splits
form the jamaa’ah (main group of Muslims).” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6878;
See al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 22/180.
Thus it will be clear to you that execution of the apostate
is something that is commanded by Allaah, when he commanded us to obey the
Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), as He says
(interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger
(Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority”
And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) has commanded us to execute the apostate as in the
hadeeth quoted above: “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.”
It may need some time for you to be convinced about this
matter, and for you to think about it. Perhaps you think that if a person
follows the truth and enters into it and embraces the one true religion
which Allaah has enjoined, then we allow him to leave it quite easily
whenever he wants and to utter the words of kufr (disbelief) that put him
outside of Islam, so he can reject Allaah, His Messenger, His Books and His
religion, and there is no punishment as deterrent, how will that affect him
and others who enter the religion?
Do you not see that this would make the one true religion,
that everyone should follow, like a shop or store which a person can enter
when he wants and leave when he wants, and it may encourage others to
forsake the truth.
Moreover, this is not someone who has never known the truth
and practiced it and worshipped in accordance with it; rather this is a
person who has known the truth, and practiced the religion and done the
rituals of worship, so the punishment is no greater than he deserves.
Moreover, such strong rulings as this are only applied to such a person
whose life is no longer considered to be useful, because he knew the truth
and followed the religion, then he left it and forsook it. What soul can be
more evil than the soul of such a person?
In conclusion, the answer is that Allaah is the One Who
revealed this religion and enjoined it. He is the One Who ruled that the one
who enters it and then leaves it is to be executed. This ruling does not
come from the Muslims’ ideas or suggestions. As this is the case, then we
must follow the ruling of Allaah so long as we are content to accept Him as
our Lord and God.
May Allaah help us and you to do that which He loves and
which pleases Him. We thank you once again.
Peace be upon those who follow true guidance.