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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.