Killing Muslims “Apostates:” What Would Mohammed Do?

March 29, 2006

By Randall Terry

A mysterious world exists behind the “Crescent Curtain;” a world in which a Muslim’s conversion to Christianity is viewed as a treasonous act against God, the state, and the community – punishable by death.

Now that the potential death sentence of the Afghani — Mr. Abdul Rahman — is not imminent, the question we must ask is this: was the Afghani prosecutor’s goal of executing Mr. Rahman an accurate reflection of Islamic jurisprudence? Or to put the question in a historical context; “What would Mohammed do with those who forsake Islam?”

As horrifying as it is, Mohammed would have called for Mr. Rahman’s death. I will prove it shortly. But first let me explain the Islamic framework in which this makes sense – at least to the Islamic mind.

In order to understand Islam – and how Muslims treat hostages, or women, or Muslim’s who leave Islam for another religion, we must focus on four things:

1) The Koran; 2) The Hadith; 3) The Sunna; and 4) The Shari’a. Let us quickly define our terms.

The Koran (also transliterated into English as “Quran”) is the Islamic holy book, the rough equivalent of the Old Testament for Judaism, and the Bible for Christianity.

The Hadith and the Sunna are the sayings and deeds (respectively) of Mohammed that are not in the Koran. They are often called “The Traditions of the Prophet.” These are sacred writings, but they are not in the Koran.

The Shari’a is Islamic law. Islamic law touches on virtually every aspect of religious, political, criminal, military, familial and social life. Broadly speaking, the Shari’a is the sum total of the Koran, the Hadith and the Sunna. To develop Islamic Law, ancient Islamic scholars took the Koran — together with the sayings and deeds (the Hadith and the Sunna) of Mohammed; they then created a fairly airtight system of Islamic law that has existed for over 1000 years. For example — the Saudi Arabian Constitution actually says: “Government in Saudi Arabia derives power from the Holy Koran and the Prophet’s tradition.” (Article 7, Constitution of Saudi Arabia) Other Islamic nations have similar declarations in their Constitutions.

The Example of Mohammed

To understand Islam, we must understand the life and traditions of Mohammed. Obviously, the Koran is critical in the development of Islamic law. But in many ways – as the Saudi Constitution implies — it is “The Traditions of the Prophet” — the sayings and deeds of Mohammed — that provide the example of how the Koran is lived out and applied to culture and law. If the Koran provides the bricks, Mohammed’s sayings and deeds are the mortar for Islamic law.

Why? Because Muslims believe that Mohammed was the best example of a life totally surrendered to Allah. Hence, if one wants to be a good Muslim, he or she should mimic the life of Mohammed; if a ruler wants to rule a nation in a manner that pleases Allah, he should rule following the example of Islam’s first political, military, and religious ruler – Mohammed.

In that light, understanding the life of Mohammed – not merely reading the Koran — is the most important key to understanding the entire Islamic world; and it is precisely this key that has been entirely missed or ignored by the Western world.

There are literally thousands of Hadith and Sunna; little records and vignettes of things that Mohammed said or did while he was alive.

The Hadith and the Sunna form a completely different body of literature than the Koran. The Koran is the holy book of Islam; in the Islamic scheme, it contains nothing but the words of God. By contrast, the Hadith and the Sunna are not the words of God, but they are a record of the words and the deeds of Mohammed. Mohammed is heralded as God’s Prophet, His Apostle, His Messenger — the most noble soul that has ever graced the world. If you have read the Koran, good; but it is the Hadith and Sunna of Mohammed that give flesh and bone to the writings of the Koran.

And since Mohammed dealt with a multitude of political, criminal, religious, military, economic and familial issues during his life — and since there is a fairly extensive record of Mohammed’s sentiments on those issues – it is the Quran together with the words and deeds of Mohammed that provide the foundation for Islamic law and culture.

On Trial behind “The Crescent Curtain”

Let us fast-forward to today. Those who follow the news from persecuted Christians surviving behind the Crescent Curtain know the story all too well; if a Muslim converts to Christianity, he or she is risking their life. Many have stood trial; still more have simply been murdered by family members or zealots for leaving the Islamic faith.

As of today, 41 year old Afghani Abdul Rahman has escaped a trial for his life – surely due to international exposure and pressure. His celebrated crime was that he dared to forsake Islam, and embrace Christianity. Make no mistake — this type of injustice against “Muslims Apostates” (Muslims who convert to another religion) occurs throughout the Islamic world — as it has for hundreds of years.

Mr. Rahman is now free, hopefully in hiding; we pray he will escape the Mullahs and other devout Muslims that have vowed to kill him on sight, and that he can end his days peacefully in a nation that allows true freedom of religion. But the cases of many other Muslims turned Christian – or Muslims turned agnostic or atheist – do not have such an ending. Many are tried in court without the disdain and condemnation of the non-Muslim world; they are imprisoned or beaten or executed. Others simply become victims to “private proceedings” – resulting in tortures or murders or disappearances. Islamic prisons and shallow graves are littered with the ruined lives of ex-Muslims who dared to leave the peaceful fold of Islam.

Those of us who were born and raised in the Western democracies cannot conceive of such treatment due solely to someone’s religious convictions. The response from the judge and the prosecutor in the case are as bewildering as they are offensive to us.

The AP reported Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada as saying: “We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law…It is an attack on Islam.”

The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, originally offered to drop the charges against Rahman if he would simply return to Islam. Mr. Rahman refused the offer, and courageously maintained his Christian faith. Before dropping the charges, the prosecutor said: “He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was a Christian and would always remain one…We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty.” (Mar 19, 2006 Associated Press)

Why would the Judge say that Mr. Rahman becoming a Christian is an attack on Islam? Why does the prosecutor insist that he be put to death for his faith in Christ?

Mohammed Provides the Key

The judge and the prosecutor in Afghanistan are following the words of Mohammed himself. I know this is hard to believe — especially for those of us who have believed the mantra that “Islam is a religion of peace.”

Let us look at various Hadith — sayings of Mohammed – and then various Shari’a principles. Remember: the words of Mohammed form a foundational part of Islamic law. The Muslim mind believes that Mohammed’s example is stellar.

All of the following quotes come from the most respected selections of the hadith. The first narrative we will review deals with Mohammed’s fourth successor, Ali. Caliph Ali had executed some “apostates” and burnt them. The hadith says:

“Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ [i.e., only God can burn someone with fire in hell.] No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet [Mohammed] said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'” Volume 4, Book 52, Number 260

“I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'” Vol. 9, Book 84, Number 57

Why would other Muslims – strangers to Mr. Rahman – threaten to murder him? Because Mohammed ordered the death of “apostates,” and promised the killers a reward from God: “No doubt I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion [Islam] as an arrow goes out of the game. So, where-ever you find them, kill them, for who-ever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” Volume 9, Book 84, Number 64 Sahih Bukhari

Mohammed’s close friend and third successor, Uthman, gave this account of killing apostates (ironically when his own life was in danger.) “They are threatening to kill me now. We said: ‘Allah will be sufficient for you against them, Commander of the Faithful!’ He asked: ‘Why kill me? I heard the Apostle of Allah say: It is not lawful to kill a man who is a Muslim except for one of the three reasons: Kufr (disbelief) after accepting Islam, fornication after marriage, or wrongfully killing someone…’” Book 39, Number 4487 Sahih Muslim

Mohammed personally ordered the execution of a man who had once followed him, but then “apostatized.” He died by multiple sword gashes while he was clutching the curtain of the “sacred mosque” in Mecca. (See details in “The Life of the Prophet Mohammed” Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, Pages 402-403)

What follows next are quotations from the book, “The Penalties for Apostasy and Islam.” This book, written by a devout Muslim, gathers the delineated penalties for apostasy from all four major schools of the Shari’a.

“All four imams (the founders of the four schools of Islamic law) — may Allah have mercy upon them — agree that the apostate whose fall from Islam is beyond doubt — may Allah forbid it — must be killed, and his blood must be spilled without reservation. The hypocrite and heretic (zindiq) who poses as a Muslim but has secretly remained an unbeliever must also be killed.”

The book continues: “If the apostate repents, or utters the two main articles of faith (al-shahadatain), or confesses faith in the oneness of Allah [i.e., he must deny the Trinity] he will be released. But if he does not repent, he is to be killed by the sword immediately. This punishment cannot be evaded, because apostasy is the most atrocious and severe form of blasphemy, and it deserves the cruelest judgment, which invalidates all of a Muslim’s previous deeds. Allah says: “And for those among you who allow themselves to be led astray from their religion, and who die as unbelievers, their works are invalid now and in eternity” (Sura al-Baqara 2:217)

The Koran states that Christians are infidels deserving of hell: “Infidels now are they who say, ‘God is the Messiah, son of Mary… whosoever shall join other gods with God [i.e., the Trinity], God shall forbid him the garden, and his abode shall be the fire…“ (Koran 5: 76-78) Mr. Rahman’s conversion means he believes in the Trinity; that Christ is God incarnate; and therefore that Mohammed is not “The Apostle of God. All this is a capital offense, punishable by death.

Simply stated: Those who seek to kill former Muslims are following the dictates of Mohammed. Whether we understand it or not, and whether we like it or not, Mohammed, and hence Islam today, know nothing of religious freedom. Do some research with Amnesty International or The Voice of the Martyrs, and see what life is like for Christians in Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, or Pakistan — a life of fear, persecution, and even death.

At some point we are going to have to debate the question: How can we view them as allies? How can we be allies with dictators and despots that would imprison our grandmothers, ravage our sisters, and murder our fathers?

Randall Terry has a B.A. (with a concentration in communications) from the State University of New York; a B.A. from Whitfield College School of Religion; and a three-year degree from Elim Bible Institute, majoring in The Bible (Old and New Testament). His theological and communications background provide a unique vantage point from which to study and discuss the religion, history, and sociology of Islam.

Randall Terry has spent nearly two years immersed in a study of Islam and Mohammed. His studies have included: beginning his Arabic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus Campus; college courses dealing with Islamic history and sociology; spending seven weeks studying historic sites in Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Greece; doing extensive research in Islamic primary sources for a lengthy project comparing Christ and Mohamed. Mr. Terry is the author of five published books; he is currently the President of the Society for Truth and Justice.

For more information on Islam go to: RandalTerry.com and click on articles.

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3 Responses to “Killing Muslims “Apostates:” What Would Mohammed Do?”

  1. oswald Says:

    perfect site good information, very nice news and etc… tnx

  2. sprittibee Says:

    Very informational. I have read some of the Koran, but was unable to find much of the ‘death to Christians’ information (you explained why very nicely in your post above). The short video footage I saw of the man you discuss in this post was very encouraging to me. My hope is that he is not killed, as you have said. It seemed to me that he was willing to face his penalty, however, if that was the outcome… and most amazingly had the look of complete peace and faith in God on his face – even in the midst of execution. It reminded me of a modern version of Fox’s Martyrs. It is hard for someone (even a Christian) to understand the peace of God in a situation like that until you are facing it. The Bible says:

    Mark 13:11
    Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

    Matthew 10:19
    But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say

    I think it is most amazing that this man could have peace through his trial… and even more amazing to me that anyone would feel so threatened by someone else’s religion that they would want to kill you for converting.

    Interesting to me in the Koran was the account of Moses and the rock he struck in the desert. Look both the Christian Bible and Koran over on that account and tell me the differences you see. I’d love to discuss it with you via email.


  3. […] for Rahman. (And, it should be noted that lots of Muslim clerics agreed with that death penalty.) Here’s an article on why Muslims agree with death for […]


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