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The Death Penalty in the Koran

November 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Now, I want to talk about the death penalty in the Koran. There is really only one crime for which the death penalty is permitted in the Koran and if one were study the other teachings of the Koran, one would see that the Koran does not recommend the death penalty.

First of all, I want to reiterate that the death penalty shortens a person’s life and provides him with less time to repent and reform himself. Everyone must die. The Bible teaches this. (Ecclesiastes 3:2,20; 8:8; II Samuel 14:14; Romans 5:12; Hebrews 9:27) The Koran also teaches this.

Wheresoever ye may be, death will overtake you, even though ye were in lofty towers. (Koran 4:78, Pickthall)

Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned. (Koran 21:35, Pickthall)

So, death is an unavoidable fact of our existence and we usually do not think that we are the next ones to meet death. It may come unexpectedly or we might anticipate it knowing when it will occur.

Another thing I want to clarify before talking about the death penalty is that some passages in the Koran that are often cited as implementations of the death penalty are not the death penalty at all. They must be understood in the context of military battles. Military battles produce death, but people do not die in them because they have committed some crime. Here are the war passages of what I am speaking:

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil). (Koran 2:193,194, Pickthall)

The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. (Koran 5:33, Pickthall)

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain. (Koran 47:4, Pickthall)

The passage in Koran 2:193,194 is talking about a war fought in self-defense. The Muslims were fighting against those who were fighting against them. (Koran 2:190) In Koran 5:33, it tells about the consequences those who fight against God and Muhammad will experience. It is talking about a military war fought against the Muslims in order to stop them from worshiping one God. Those who want to force polytheism on people by means of war are striving after corruption in the land. Idolatry and the spreading of idolatry were punishable by death in the Torah. (Exodus 22:20; 13:1-10; 17:2-7) They were classified by the Koran, therefore, as “corruption in the earth.” (Koran 5:32) The New Testament abrogated the death penalty for these sins. (I Corinthians 5:9-11; I John 2:19) The Koran also teaches that those who start wars are trying to make corruption in the land.

The Jews say: Allah’s hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters. (Koran 5:64, Pickthall)

So, another way that the enemies of God were striving after corruption in the land was by “lighting a fire of war.” The consequences that those people will experience are that they will be killed, that is, in battle or crucified. Crucifixion was a pagan practice. The Roman pagans practiced it. They crucified Jesus and two thieves. (Matthew 27:27-38; Luke 23:33) The Egyptian pagans also practiced it. (Koran 7:123,124; 12:41; 20:71; 26:49) It seems more likely that those who would be crucified would be crucified by their own pagan people for failure to achieve victory in a military campaign against the Muslims. Their hands and feet would be cut off on opposite sides is either a punishment that the pagans would inflict on their own people for failing to defeat the Muslims in battle or they would lose their hands in feet in battle because people fought with swords in ancient times. Being expelled out of the land would occur because the Muslims would drive them out of the land during the battle.

Koran 47:4 is not talking about a penalty for committing a crime. It is talking about a military battle. Muhammad told the Muslims to smite the necks of the polytheists with a sword. He could have been using hyperbole, but even if it is literal, he is talking about fighting in a military battle. Beheading as a form of criminal punishment does not occur anywhere in the Koran.

I have already shown in my previous blog post, “The Death Penalty in the Torah and Koran 5:32” that the Torah’s death penalty for the commission of certain sins has been abrogated by New Testament teaching. Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of Orthodox Christians. (Koran 29:46) Therefore, he also accepted the abrogations of the Torah’s death penalty for commission of those sins classified by Koran 5:32 as “corruption in the earth.” He also accepted what St. Paul said in Romans 12 about vengeance.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19, NKJV)

Now, I am going to explain the passages in the Koran which prescribe a penalty for murderers. First, let us look at this passage in Koran 2.

O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered — the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment. And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous. (Koran 2:178,179, Sahih International)

One thing that this passaged  cannot possibly mean is that someone is allowed to murder another person’s relative if someone murdered his. It does not mean that one can murder a slave belonging to another person if someone murdered his slave. It does not mean that one can murder another person’s female relative (wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc.), if someone murdered his female relative. This would obviously be unjust. Everyone is responsible for his own actions.

Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burdens if one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related. Thou canst but admonish such as fear their Lord unseen and establish regular Prayer. And whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul; and the destination (of all) is to Allah. (Koran 35:18, Yusuf Ali)

Whoso doeth right, it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong, it is against it. And afterward unto your Lord ye will be brought back. (Koran 45:15, Pickthall)

Punishments must be just and equitable.

If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient. (Koran 16:126, Pickthall)

There is no justice in punishing another person for someone else’s crimes. The passage in Koran 2 is talking about blood money. The murderer should pay blood money to the heir or heirs of the murder victim. The amount varies according to whether the victim is a free man, a slave, or a female. The amount of the blood money is not specified. If the heir of the murder victim overlooks the offense, then the murderer still must pay the heir a suitable amount.

(I do not want to talk about slavery and women’s rights in this blog post. I have already done that in previous blogs.)

The next passage is in Koran 5.

Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah’s Scripture as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And barter not My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers. And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (Koran 5:44,45, Pickthall)

The “eye for an eye” law was abrogated by Jesus.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38,39, NKJV)

The Koran tells us to obey Jesus. In the Koran, Jesus says:

And (I come) confirming that which was before Me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey Me. (Koran 3:50, Pickthall)

The Koran says that the Gospel is a “guidance to mankind” (Koran 3:3,4) and in it are “light and guidance.” (Koran 5:46) Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of Orthodox Christians. (Koran 29:46) Therefore, he accepted the entire New Testament.

St. Paul said:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21, NKJV)

The Koran says:

Such as persevere in seeking their Lord’s Countenance and are regular in prayer and spend of that which We bestow upon them secretly and openly, and overcome evil with good. Theirs will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home. (Koran 13:22, Pickthall)

and:

The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. (Koran 41:34, Pickthall)

The words that are key in understanding what this passage in Koran 5 is saying are these:

But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. (Koran 5:45, Pickthall)

The “eye for an eye” law permits one to seek justice, but the better choice is to forgive and overlook.

In Sirach, a book accepted as Holy Scripture by Orthodox Christians, and therefore, also accepted as Holy Scripture by Muhammad, it says:

He that revengeth shall find vengeance from the Lord, and He will surely keep his sins [in remembrance.] Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest. (Sirach 28:1,2, KJV)

(There was no Protestant Reformation in the 7th century. Therefore, Muhammad accepted the Book of Sirach as Holy Scripture.)

The next passage is from chapter 17 of the Koran.

And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped. (Koran 17:33, Pickthall)

This is the “eye for an eye” law in another place in the Koran. One who seeks to avenge the death of a loved one is forbidden to “commit excess in slaying.” The last part of Koran 16:126 needs to be looked at more closely.

But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient. (Koran 16:126, Pickthall)

The better choice is to endure patiently, not seek vengeance. The Koran says:

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Sahih International)

It also says:

Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Koran 24:22, Yusuf Ali)

O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive — then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 64:14, Sahih International)

The Koran, like the Bible, teaches that forgiveness from God is contingent upon us forgiving others.

The Koran says:

And We have not created the heavens and earth and that between them except in truth. And indeed, the Hour is coming; so forgive with gracious forgiveness. (Koran 15:85, Sahih International)

Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. (Koran 45:14, Pickthall)

The Koran teaches that one of the good deeds that those who will inherit Paradise do is that of forgiving others.

And obey Allah and the messenger, that ye may find mercy. And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil); those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good; and those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins — Who forgiveth sins save Allah only? – and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever — a bountiful reward for workers! (Koran 3:132-136, Pickthall)

Now whatever ye have been given is but a passing comfort for the life of the world, and that which Allah hath is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord, and those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wroth, forgive, and those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them, and those who, when great wrong is done to them, defend themselves, the guerdon of an ill-deed is an ill the like thereof. But whosoever pardoneth and amendeth, his wage is the affair of Allah. Lo! He loveth not wrong-doers. (Koran 42:36-40, Pickthall)

The better choice is to forgive and not to seek vengeance. The Koran says:

Those who listen to the Word, then follow the best thereof, those are they whom Allah has guided, and those, they are the men of understanding. (Koran 39:18)

and:

And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive. (Koran 39:55, Sahih International)

The Koran gives permissible options, but it tells us to make the best choice. It even tells us what is the best choice. Forgiving and overlooking is better than seeking vengeance. This does not mean that justice within society cannot be meted out to the murderer. The government authorities are responsible for administering justice in the case of murder. (Romans 13:1-4; Koran 2:247; 3:26; 4:59,83)

There is no death penalty for adultery or fornication in the Koran. The death penalty for these sins was abrogated by Jesus. (John 8:2-12) Those who are stoning to death people for having committed these sins are not following Jesus’ example and are, therefore, “walking in darkness.” (Read John 8:12.)

It is absurd to think that the Koran teaches that such people should be stoned to death. Look at this verse:

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. Ye (proceed) one from another; so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct. And if when they are honourably married they commit lewdness they shall incur the half of the punishment (prescribed) for free women (in that case). This is for him among you who feareth to commit sin. But to have patience would be better for you. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

If a man marries a believing slave girl and she commits lewdness, that is, adultery, she “shall incur the half of the punishment for free women.”

How do you stone someone half to death?

Then, there is this verse:

The adulterer shall not marry save an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress none shall marry save an adulterer or an idolater. All that is forbidden unto believers. (Koran 24:3, Pickthall)

If the adulterer and the aduteress have been stoned to death, how can they marry each other?

The Old Testament death penalty for adultery and fornication has been abrogated by New Testament teaching. I have already talked about this in my previous blog, “The Death Penalty in the Torah and Koran 5:32.”

I have already said that the New Testament punishment within the Christian community is disfellowship. (I Corinthians 5:9-11) The Christian man is supposed to divorce his wife if she has committed adultery. (Proverbs 18:23, LXX; I Corinthians 6:15) The Koran also prescribes divorce in such cases.

O Prophet, when you [Muslims] divorce women, divorce them for [the commencement of] their waiting period and keep count of the waiting period, and fear Allah , your Lord. Do not turn them out of their [husbands’] houses, nor should they [themselves] leave [during that period] unless they are committing a clear immorality. And those are the limits [set by] Allah. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah has certainly wronged himself. You know not; perhaps Allah will bring about after that a [different] matter. (Koran 65:1, Sahih International)

Christian women should divorce their husbands if they have committed adultery. There is gender equality in the Church. (Galatians 3:28) The Koran, likewise, teaches gender equality.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

The Koran prescribes flogging before believers as the punishment for adultery and fornication. (Koran 24:2,5-9) I think that the purpose of the flogging is to shame the people who have committed these sexual sins, not to cause bodily harm. (Koran 16:126) The only way that one could have four witnesses is if four people were watching them have sex. People do not usually have sex in public. Koran 24:2 is really talking about committing adultery or fornication in public.

There is no death penalty in the Koran for apostasy. If there were, this would seem to be absurd in light of what this verse says:

Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way. (Koran 4:137, Pickthall)

Someone believes, then disbelieves. Then, after that person has been beheaded or stoned to death, he believes again. Then, he disbelieves, and then increases in disbelief. So, now he must be beheaded or stoned to death again. This is an absurdity.

In the Koran, the only punishment for apostasy is the punishment that the apostate gets from God on the Day of Judgment. I believe that this punishment is really self-inflicted. (Koran 41:46; 45:15)

There is no death penalty for blasphemy in the Koran. I have already demonstrated that the death penalty for blasphemy has been abrogated by New Testament teaching in the previous blog post.

The Koran says:

Allah would explain to you and guide you by the examples of those who were before you, and would turn to you in mercy. Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 4:26, Pickthall)

And verily We have sent down for you revelations that make plain, and the example of those who passed away before you. An admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (Koran 24:34, Pickthall)

St. Paul told us to follow his example. (I Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17)

St. Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan for blaspheming. I think that means that he excommunicated them.

Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (I Timothy 1:20, NKJV)

That is the punishment for blasphemy, not the death penalty.

So, there is only one death penalty allowed in the Koran, that is, the death penalty for murder. The death penalty is supposed to be administered to the murderer by the murder victim’s heir. However, if one does avenge the death of his or her loved one by executing a murderer, he or she is not making the best choice. The other option is to forgive the murderer. That is the best choice. The Koran says to follow the best revelations in it. (Koran 39:18,55) If someone forgives the murderer, the murderer should voluntarily pay blood money to the heir or heirs. (Koran 2:178,256) The government authorities are responsible for administering justice. (Romans 13:1-4; Koran 2:247; 3:26) It is necessary for them to do that in order to preserve the social order.

 

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Apostasy and a False Hadith

May 31, 2017 Leave a comment

It is very unfortunate that there are many Muslims and predominantly Muslim countries who actually think that they have a moral mandate to put to death anyone who leaves Islam. The Koran and the Bible do not teach this. There are hadiths that do teach that, unfortunately. Those hadiths are based on hearsay reports and no intelligent person should think that the Islamic prophet actually commanded anyone to kill an apostate from Islam.

In the Old Testament, there is a passage in Deuteronomy which commands the Israelites to put to death by stoning those who apostatize from the monotheistic religion taught in the Torah and worship other gods.

And if there should be found in any one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God gives thee, a man or a woman who shall do that which is evil before the Lord thy God, so as to transgress His covenant, and they should go and serve other gods, and worship them, the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven, which He commanded thee not to do, and it be told thee, and thou shalt have enquired diligently, and, behold, the thing really took place, this abomination has been done in Israel; then shalt thou bring out that man, or that woman, and ye shall stone them with stones, and they shall die. He shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses; a man who is put to death shall not be put to death for one witness. And the hand of the witnesses shall be upon him among the first to put him to death, and the hand of the people at the last; so shalt thou remove the evil one from among yourselves. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7, LXX)

The other peoples among whom the ancient Israelites were traveling when they were on their way to the land of Canaan were polytheists. Those who abandoned Abrahamic monotheism ended up accepting one of the polytheistic religions of the indigenous peoples in that part of the world. The first one to cast a stone at an apostate was supposed to be one of the witnesses. So, if the witness was bearing false witness against his neighbor — a violation of one of the Ten Commandments — he would also be guilty of murder as well. If anyone escapes the judgment of man for the commission of murder, he will most definitely not escape the judgment of God. (Genesis 9:5,6; Deuteronomy 32:35,43)

In the New Testament, apostates were not killed. The Christians disfellowshipped them.

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. (I Corinthians 5:11, NKJV)

This verse in the New Testament abrogates the commandment in Deuteronomy 17:2-7. In the Koran, it says:

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (Koran 2:106, Yusuf Ali)

The commandment to disfellowship apostates is better than the one to kill them. By disfellowshipping them, the Christian community is able to nonverbally express their disapproval of the apostates’ practice of idolatry and hope that they eventually repent and return to the worship of the one Triune God.

Christians often just allowed the apostates and heretics to leave the Christian community on their own.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (I John 2:19, NKJV)

No one was killed for committing apostasy in the first century. By the way, the author of I John was a rightly guided Muslim (Matthew 10:2; Koran 3:52) and a messenger of Allah. He also wrote the Gospel according to St. John, two more epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

The Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.

And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. (Koran 5:48, Pickthall)

As for that which We inspire in thee of the Scripture, it is the Truth confirming that which was (revealed) before it. Lo! Allah is indeed Observer, Seer of His slaves. (Koran 35:31, Pickthall)

Muhammad did not receive any new revelations. He received confirming ones — revelations which confirmed what the messengers before him had already taught.

Nothing is said to thee that was not said to the messengers before thee: that thy Lord has at His Command (all) forgiveness as well as a most Grievous Penalty. (Koran 41:43, Yusuf Ali)

Muhammad was not an innovation among the messengers.

Say: I am no new thing among the messengers (of Allah), nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that which is inspired in me, and I am but a plain warner. (Koran 46:9, Pickthall)

He accepted the Scriptures of the Orthodox Christians.

And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (Koran 29:46, Pickthall)

I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. (Koran 42:15, Pickthall)

So, Muhammad accepted I Corinthians 5:11 and I John 2:19 as Holy Scripture. He never commanded anyone to put to death an apostate.

Furthermore, in the Koran it says that Muhammad followed the Koran.

I but follow what is revealed to me. (Koran 6:50, Yusuf Ali)

I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. (Koran 7:203, Shakir)

I only follow what is revealed to me. (Koran 10:15, Sahih International)

I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner. (Koran 46:9, Sahih International)

The Koran says that Muhammad was not supposed to be a compeller or controller over his ummah (community).

We are Best Aware of what they say, and thou (O Muhammad) art in no wise a compeller over them. But warn by the Qur’an him who feareth My threat. (Koran 50:45, Pickthall)

So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder. You are not over them a controller. (Koran 88:21,22, Sahih International)

There are two passages in the Koran about apostasy. The first one is in the Fourth Surah.

Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way. (Koran 4:137, Pickthall)

It is very unreasonable to believe based on this verse that the Islamic prophet actually commanded his followers to kill apostates. The apostate described in this verse would have been stoned to death twice. He would have had to have been resurrected after the first stoning so that he could be stoned to death once more. No capital punishment for apostates is mentioned in this verse. The punishment is that God will never pardon him. That is to say, he receives eternal damnation at the Last Judgment. Also, God will never guide him “unto a way.” He is allowed to continue on in his error, much the same way as many atheists and agnostics do today.

The next passage pertaining to apostasy is in the 16th Surah.

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief – save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith – but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: on them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom. That is because they have chosen the life of the world rather than the Hereafter, and because Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk. Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes Allah hath sealed. And such are the heedless. Assuredly in the Hereafter they are the losers. (Koran 16:106-109, Pickthall)

The punishment that apostates receive is in the Hereafter — the afterlife. There is no commandment in these verses to kill an apostate.

Muhammad died in 632 A.D. In the ninth century, a collection of hadiths was compiled. It is called Sunan an-Nasa’i. The compiler of these hadiths was born in 829 and died in 915. Here is a hadith from this collection which falsely states that Muhammad told his followers to kill apostates.

It was narrated from ‘Ikrimah: “Some people apostatized after accepting Islam, and ‘Ali burned them with fire. Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘If it had been me, I would not have burned them; the Messenger of Allah said: ‘No one should be punished with the punishment of Allah.’ If it had been me, I would have killed them; the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 4060)

Based on the teachings of the Koran and the Bible, it is highly unlikely that the Islamic prophet ever told anyone, “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.”

The hearsay  hadiths contain falsehood. The Koran and the Bible which the Koran confirms contain truth. The Koran says:

That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood and because those who believe follow the truth from their Lord. (Koran 47:3, Pickthall)

One can either follow falsehood — those hearsay hadiths — or the truth. Here is another passage of Scripture which Muhammad accepted.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV)

Let us obey the Koran and the Bible and “follow the truth from our Lord.” Ignore those hearsay hadiths. They really cannot be trusted. As-salamu alaykum.

Apostasy in the Bible and the Koran

June 19, 2016 Leave a comment

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion. One may leave his religion and adopt another one or one may have no religion at all. One’s religious beliefs and practices are a matter of one’s own personal choice. Article 18 of this internationally accepted document says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. (Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

This concept of freedom of religion is found in the Koran as well as in the Bible. In the Koran, it says:

There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower. Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein. (Koran 2:256,257, Pickthall)

and:

Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place! (Koran 18:30, Pickthall)

The Bible, likewise, permits one to choose whether he wants to worship and serve God or not. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses set before the children of Israel a choice. He told them that their choice had benefits or consequences depending on what they choose.

15 Behold, I have set before thee this day life and death, good and evil. 16 If thou wilt hearken to the commands of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His ordinances, and His judgments; then ye shall live, and shall be many in number, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all the land into which thou goest to inherit it. 17 But if thy heart change, and thou wilt not hearken, and thou shalt go astray and worship other gods, and serve them, 18 I declare to you this day, that ye shall utterly perish, and ye shall by no means live long upon the land, into which ye go over Jordan to inherit it. 19 I call both heaven and earth to witness this day against you, I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: choose thou life, that thou and thy seed may live; 20 to love the Lord thy God, to hearken to His voice, and cleave to Him; for this is thy life, and the length of thy days, that thou shouldest dwell upon the land, which the Lord sware to thy fathers, Abraam, and Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, LXX)

Jesus, in the Gospels, never told His followers to coerce someone into accepting the Gospel. These were His instructions regarding those who rejected His teachings:

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! (Matthew 10:14,15, NKJV)

Jesus basically told His disciples to leave them and stop talking to them. If they choose eternal damnation, that is their free choice to do so. In Revelation, it says that the Holy Spirit and the Church (the bride) invite people to eternal life, but the choice lies with “whosoever will” and is not a coerced decision. It is a free choice.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17, KJV)

However, there are those who leave the community of believers or who start practicing idolatry. There are instructions in the Old Testament regarding what to do to the idolaters. The punishment is stoning to death.

And if there should be found in any one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God gives thee, a man or a woman who shall do that which is evil before the Lord thy God, so as to transgress His covenant, and they should go and serve other gods, and worship them, the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven, which He commanded thee not to do, and it be told thee, and thou shalt have enquired diligently, and, behold, the thing really took place, this abomination has been done in Israel; then shalt thou bring out that man, or that woman, and ye shall stone them with stones, and they shall die. He shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses; a man who is put to death shall not be put to death for one witness. And the hand of the witnesses shall be upon him among the first to put him to death, and the hand of the people at the last; so shalt thou remove the evil one from among yourselves. (Deut. 17:2-7, LXX)

One must realize that this type of punishment was already being practiced for certain offenses in ancient times. What God was doing was simply regulating the already existing practice of stoning to death. The witnesses were to be the first to stone the idolater. So, if anyone bore false witness regarding someone practicing idolatry, he would in effect be guilty of murder. If his witness was true, then he would not be guilty of murder. He would simply be performing his duty to God and the community of believers.

Idolatry, however, continued to be practiced by some ancient Israelites without any punishment being inflicted upon the idolaters by other members of the community. (See Judges 2:13; I Samuel 7:3,4; II Chronicles 15:8.)

In the Gospels, we receive the commandment from Jesus not to pass judgment on others.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1,2, NKJV)

He told the Jews who wanted to stone a woman for adultery to let the one without sin cast the first stone.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7, NKJV)

Both in the Old and New Testaments there is the teaching that everyone is guilty of sin.

For there is not a man who will not sin. (I Kings 8:46, LXX)

For there is not a righteous man in the earth, who will do good, and not sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:21, LXX)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23, NKJV)

Even in the Koran, it says that we would all be guilty before God if it were not for His mercy. If God were not patient and forbearing towards us, no one on earth would be left alive.

If Allah were to take mankind to task for their wrong-doing, He would not leave hereon a living creature, but He reprieveth them to an appointed term, and when their term cometh they cannot put (it) off an hour nor (yet) advance (it). (Koran 16:61, Pickthall)

The sin of idolatry includes the sin of greed or covetousness. St. Paul calls a covetous man an idolater.

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5, NKJV)

Sins can be committed in one’s heart as well as outwardly. Even the Koran teaches this.

Forsake the outward sin, and the inward; surely the earners of sin shall be recompensed for what they have earned. (Koran 6:120, Arberry)

Therefore, since we all sin whether within our hearts or in deeds and words, no one is qualified to pass judgment on someone else and no one is qualified to cast the first stone at an idolater.

The practice of stoning people to death was abrogated by Jesus. (See John 8:7; Koran 2:106.)

In the New Testament, apostates were not stoned to death. They simply were disfellowshipped or else they were allowed to leave of their own accord.

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. (I Corinthians 5:11, NKJV)

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (I John 2:19, NKJV)

In the Koran, there is no punishment prescribed for apostates, except for the punishment awarded to them by God after they die.

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief – save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith – but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: on them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom. That is because they have chosen the life of the world rather than the Hereafter, and because Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk. Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes Allah hath sealed. And such are the heedless. Assuredly in the Hereafter they are the losers. (Koran 16:106-109, Pickthall)

The Bible, likewise, says that there are eternal consequences for apostates.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:4-8, KJV)

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” (II Peter 2:20-22, NASB)

The Koran says the apostate has “chosen the life of the world rather than the Hereafter.” The Bible says that the greedy Christian has abandoned the faith.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (I Tim 6:6-10, NASB)

Greed and covetousness which are forms of idolatry can result in a believer’s apostasy. St. Paul warned the Christians in the church in Corinth not to be deceived into thinking that one can enter the Kingdom of God without abandoning idolatry and covetousness.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10, NKJV)

People who want to continue in idolatry might receive a strong delusion from God so that they do not want to change their beliefs.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thessalonians 2:11,12, KJV)

The Koran, likewise, speaks about God sealing the hearts of unbelievers.

As for the disbelievers, Whether thou warn them or thou warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom. (Koran 2:6,7, Pickthall)

Satan, whom St. Paul calls “the god of this world,” is instrumental in blinding people to the truth of the Gospel.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (II Corinthians 4:3,4, NKJV)

So, since people who are disbelievers or apostates have become blinded to the truth, believe a lie due to a strong delusion that God has sent on them, and have sealed ears and hearts, one should leave the judgment of apostates to God and not inflict any temporal punishment on them.

Another passage in the Koran which deals with the subject of apostasy is in the Fourth Surah. It says:

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way. (Koran 4:136,137, Pickthall)

Here, it says that we should believe in God, His messenger, the Scripture which He has revealed to His messenger (the Koran), and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime, that is, the Bible. Furthermore, we must believe God’s angels, the other messengers of God (Moses, David, Solomon, St. John the Baptist, Jesus, etc.), and the Last Day. Otherwise, we will “wander far astray.”

Some Muslims want to stone apostates thinking that that is the true Islamic punishment for apostasy, but the whole idea is rendered absurd by Koran 4:137. If someone believes, then disbelieves, that person must be stoned according to their way of thinking. However, the verse says “then (again) believe” indicating that the apostate would still have to be alive after having been stoned to death. Then, the apostate disbelieves and increases in disbelief. The Koran says, “Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way.” No temporal punishment is indicated in these verses. They lack forgiveness from God. Therefore, the punishment for apostasy is from God on the Day of Judgment and not from man.

It says in the Koran that we should believe in God’s messengers. St. John the Baptist is one of God’s messengers. He is among the righteous.

And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them) was of the righteous. (Koran 6:85, Pickthall)

(And it was said unto his son): O John! Hold fast the Scripture. And We gave him wisdom when a child, and compassion from Our presence, and purity; and he was devout, and dutiful toward his parents. And he was not arrogant, rebellious. Peace on him the day he was born, and the day he dieth and the day he shall be raised alive! (Koran 19:12-15, Pickthall)

St. John the Baptist was a “prophet of the righteous.”

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (Koran 3:39, Pickthall)

St. John the Baptist said these very important words when Jesus came to him for baptism.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NKJV)

According to the Koran, St. John the Baptist is “a prophet of the righteous” and therefore a messenger of Allah. The Koran says that if we do not believe the messengers of Allah, we will “wander far astray.” St. John the Baptist said that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Therefore, it is important that we believe what St. John the Baptist said about Jesus. Otherwise, we will “wander far astray.”

I have pointed this out so that one can see that there is more than one way that one can become a disbeliever or an apostate. Here are a few videos about this subject of apostasy by some Muslim religious leaders and scholars.

There is another passage in the Koran that deals with the issue of apostasy. It is in the Fourth Surah.

Why should ye be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? Allah hath upset them for their (evil) deeds. Would ye guide those whom Allah hath thrown out of the Way? For those whom Allah hath thrown out of the Way, never shalt thou find the Way. They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): but take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks; – except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you (to war against them). (Koran 4:88-90, Yusuf Ali)

Here, Muhammad tells the Muslims that the hypocrites whom God had upset because of their evil deeds should not be taken as friends until they repent and amend their ways (“flee in the way of Allah”). This is kind of like disfellowshipping as St. Paul said in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. (I Corinthians 5:11) It says that they will try to get the Muslims to “reject Faith, as they do,” but do not allow that to happen. Muhammad said that if they turn renegades, that is, start fighting against the Muslims, then “seize them and slay them wherever ye find them.” Here, killing those who reject faith is sanctioned only in self-defense in warfare. If the hypocrites or apostates join a group between whom and them there is “a treaty of peace,” the Muslims cannot fight them. If they approach the Muslims in peace “with hearts restraining them from fighting” the Muslims “as well as their own people,” then the Muslims are not allowed to fight against them. If they send the Muslims guarantees of peace, the Muslims are forbidden to fight against them. “Peace is better.” (Koran 4:128)

This passage is talking about killing apostates who have engaged in war against the Muslims. It is not talking about killing someone because of apostasy. God will judge the apostates at the Last Judgment after the resurrection of the dead.

According to Shabir Aly, a Muslim scholar, Koran 4:89 which I just cited in the passage above was used by ancient schools of fikh to justify the killing of apostates in Islam but he does not think that that verse is sanctioning that practice. (For those who are not familiar with Islam, the schools of fikh determine sharia law. There is more than one school of fikh. So, there is more than one version of sharia law.) Here are two videos where Shabir Aly talks about this passage and the subject of killing apostates.

Here is another lecture on this subject by a Muslim.

Despite these moderate voices on the subject of apostasy, there are still some who take a more hard-line extremist position on killing apostastes.

There is more than one view regarding the subject of killing apostates among the Muslims. I hope that the moderate view will prevail among the Muslims. We Christians do not kill those who apostatize from our religion.

One more thing to mention regarding this subject. I do not think that a Muslim who converts to Trinitarian monotheistic Christianity has really apostatized from Islam. In the Koran, Trinitarian monotheists are called “believers.” (Koran 30:2-5) There are Muslim commentators on the Koran who even acknowledge this fact. (Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall is one such example. Also read the annotations for Koran 30:2-5 in The Study Quran.) If a Muslim believes that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, would he not be believing what the Koran told him to believe? (Koran 3:39; 4:136,137; John 1:29) If he is baptized and receives communion with Christians, would he not be obeying the Koran? (Koran 3:84; 5:110,111; 43:63; John 3:3-5; 6:49-58; Matthew 26:26-29; 28:19,20; Mark 16:16; Luke 22:17-20; I Corinthians 11:23-26) So, I do not think that a Muslim has really apostatized after becoming a Christian.

To conclude, I would like to say that any forced belief is not a genuine belief. People need to be free to think and form opinions and beliefs without coercion. The Koran speaks about false faith. (Koran 2:8-12; 49:14-16) The Bible does also. (James 2:26) One does not acquire genuine faith through coercion. The Koran encourages people to gather evidence and use one’s mind when determining what to believe and what not to believe.

Bring your proof (of what ye state) if ye are truthful. (Koran 2:111, Pickthalll)

Most of them follow naught but conjecture. Assuredly conjecture can by no means take the place of truth. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. (Koran 10:37, Pickthall)

And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). (Koran 17:36, Yusuf Ali)

Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts. (Koran 22:46, Yusuf Ali)

And they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and lo! a guess can never take the place of the truth. (Koran 53:28, Pickthall)

A coercive belief system or religion is not only guilty of violating the 18th Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it also produces followers who are not genuinely sincere in the beliefs to which they are being required to subscribe. People need to be free to believe or disbelieve. Doubts concerning one’s faith can be healthy. People need to be able challenge beliefs. In this way, they can strengthen the ones they already have or grow in knowledge and wisdom. I never would have converted to Orthodox Christianity from Protestantism if I had never started challenging my long held Protestant beliefs. I was able to change my faith because I live in a country that permits people to change their faith. The radical Islamic extremists who want to coerce faith out of people and market their extreme versions of Islam are discouraging the use of reason and the establishment of facts gathered from research. Such things are encouraged by the Koran as the five verses cited above clearly show. Coerced religion is un-Islamic and I am an Orthodox Christian who can clearly see that.

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