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Islam, Apostasy And Blasphemy

Apostasy and blasphemy are regarded as extremely serious offences by adherents of all faiths. Many governments in the West have repealed blasphemy laws, whereas some Muslim govts have instituted the death penalty, or other forms of severe punishment, for these "crimes". 
The Message of Islam rests upon a simple concept: La Ilaha Illa-Llah, there is no god except Allah (or, "there is none worthy of worship except Allah"). The unity and uniqueness of The Creator is at the heart of the Judaic, Christian and Islamic Revelations. An extremely important precept underpins this fundamental truth, which is - "There shall be no coercion in matters of FaithQ2:256
Thus, humankind may choose to believe in God - Who Wills to remain in the Realm Unseen - or they may not. Faith is negated if it is an outcome of force or compulsion. Free will excercises its right when expression as well inclination is permitted to manifest itself without hindrance and obstacle.
Satan may be described as the ultimate apostate and blasphemer for his stubborn rebellion against, and disobedience to, the Command of his Creator. Yet, inspite of this act of open defiance - and his stated intention of misguiding as well as misleading humankind - God grants him respite to do whatever he wants. Whilst Satan's final destination is a fiery one, he is, nevertheless given the freedom to fulfil his evil design. 
Part 1: Apostasy 
Sahih Al-Bukhari: "Book Of Apostates" Number, 2171
Narrated 'Abdullah (rda) - "The Prophet (pbuh) said, "The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that La ILaha Illa-Llah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, cannot be shed except in three cases.
1) Life for life (in cases of international murders without right; ie., in Al-Qisaas - the Law of Equality in Punishment)
2) A married person who commits adultery
3) The one who turns renegade from Islam (apostate) and leaves the group of Muslims (by innovating heresy, new ideas and new things etc., in the Islamic religion)
The Muwatta Of Imam Muhammad: "Modes Of Conduct" Part 17, Number 4
Maalik informed us - " 'Abd Ar-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Ibn 'Abdin Al-Qaariyy informed us that his father said, "A man came to 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (rda) from Abu Musa. He ('Umar) asked him about people and he told him. Then he asked, "Have you any unusual news?" He answered, "Yes, a man became a Kaafir after his Islam." He asked, " What did you do with him?" He said, " We drew him near and struck off his head" 'Umar said, " Why did you not imprison him in a house for three (days) and feed him every day a loaf of bread, and encourage him to turn in tawbah, so that he might repent and return to the Command of Allah? O Allah, I did not command it, I was not present, and I was not pleased with it when it reached me."

The second Tradition contradicts the first: more importantly any reports which clearly conflict with the Qur'an must be rejected -

Surah 3 Al-'Imran Verses 86-90
How would Allah bestow HIS Guidance upon people who have resolved to deny the truth after having attained to faith, and having borne witness that this Apostle is true, and (after) all evidence of the truth has come to them? For, Allah does not guide such evildoing folk.
Their requital shall be rejection by Allah, and by the Angels, and by all (righteous) men.
In this state shall they abide;
(and) neither will their suffering be lightened, nor will they be granted respite.
But excepted shall be they that afterwards repent and put themselves to rights: for, behold, Allah is Much-Forgiving, Most Gracious.
Verily, as for those who are bent on denying the truth after having attained to faith, and then grow (ever more stubborn) in their refusal to acknowledge the truth, their repentance (of other sins) shall not be accepted: for it is they who have truly gone astray.
Surah 4 An-Nisaa, Verses 137-138
Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the truth, and again come to believe, and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of the truth - Allah will not forgive them, nor will HE Guide them in any way.
Announce you to such hypocrites that grievous suffering awaits them.
Surah 5 Al-Maa'idah, Verse 54
O you who have attained to faith! If you ever abandon your faith, Allah will in time bring forth (in your stead) people whom HE loves and who love HIM - humble towards the believers, proud towards all who deny the truth. (People) who strive hard in Allah's cause, and do not fear to be censured by anyone who might censure them: such is Allah's favour, which HE grants to whom HE Wills. And Allah is Infinite, All-Knowing.
Please also see Surah 16, Verses 106-109 and Surah 47, Verse 22.

The above Verses make absolutely no mention of any punishment apostasy. To summarize the Statements issued by Allah SWT -
1) Apostates will not be in reciept of HIS Guidance;
2) they will be rejected by HIM;
3) their repentance will not be accepted, on account of their obstinacy;
4) their suffering - in the Hereafter - will not be lessened.
5) Those who deliberately and consciously abandon their Faith will be replaced, over the course of time, by believers who are beloved to the Creator, whilst HE is their Beloved.
Part 2: Blasphemy
Sunnan Abu Dawud, Number 38:4348.
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas - A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet (peace be upon him) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (peace be upon him) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was informed about it.
He assembled the people and said - I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up.

He sat before the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said - "Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her". Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood".
The Torah, Leviticus 24:16
"Whoever blasphemes the Name of the Lord is to be put to death; the whole community must stone him. If he blasphemes the Name, he is to be put to death, whether the foreign resident or the native.
Surah 3 Al-Imraan, Verse 94
And all who henceforth invent lies about Allah - it is they, they who are evildoers.
Surah 4 An-Nisaa, Verse 48
Verily, Allah does not forgive the ascribing of divinity to aught beside HIM, although HE forgives any lesser sin to whomsoever HE Wills: for he who ascribes divinity to aught beside Allah has indeed contrived an awesome sin.
Surah 6 Al-An'aam, Verse 10
And, indeed, (even) before your time have apostles been derided - but those who scoffed at them were (in the end) overwhelmed by the very thing which they were wont to deride.
Verses 33-34
Well do WE know that what such people say grieves you indeed: yet, behold, it is not you to whom they give the lie, but Allah's Messages do these evildoers deny.
And, indeed, (even) before your time have apostles been given the lie, and they endured with patience all those charges of falsehoods, and all the hurt done to them, till help came to them from US: for there is no power that could alter (the outcome of) Allah's promises. And some of the histories of those apostles have already come within your ken.
Surah 15 Al-Hijr, Verses 6-7
And yet, they (who deny the truth) say: "O you to whom this Reminder has been bestowed from on high: verily, you are mad!
Why do you not bring before us Angels, if you are a man of truth?"
Verse 11
and never came an apostle to them without their deriding him.
Surah 16 An-Nahl, Verse 126-128
Hence, if you have to respond to an attack (in argument) respond only to the extent of the attack levelled against you; but to bear yourselves with patience is indeed far better for (you, since Allah is with) those who are patient in adversity.
Endure then, with patience (all that they who deny the truth may say) always remembering that it is none but Allah who gives you the strength to endure adversity - and do not grieve over them, and neither be distressed by the false arguments which they devise:
for, verily, Allah is with those who are conscious of HIM and are doers of good withal!

Surah 23 Al-Mu'minun, Verse 70
Or do they say, "There is madnessin him"? Nay, he has brought them the truth - and the truth do most of them detest!
Surah 51 Adh-Dhaariyaat, Verse 52
(But) thus it is: never yet came any apostle to those who lived before their time but they said, "A sorcerer (is he), or a madman!"
The above Verse illustrates an abiding truth in respect of those who are determined to deny and reject Divine Revelations: they invariably attack the messenger in order to discredit the Message. This is the type of mentality which the Qur'an repeatedly mentions, instead of weighing with due care and attention the words and actions of the apostles, the deniers of truth accused them of being mad, or of being magicians and sorcerers, or of fabricating lies and forging the Scriptures to further their own evil agendas, or of being poets and soothsayers, or of copying texts from preceding Revelations.
The attitude of disbelievers has been a constant throughout the religious history of humankind. Prophets were not only verbally assaulted, but were also subjected to physical violence - some were also murdered. All of this the Final Revelations document. Yet, nowhere in the Qur'an is there any reference to retaliatory measures adopted by the Messengers, nor is there any evidence whatsover that they urged their compatriots and companions to launch attacks upon their detractors. On the contrary, both Prophets and believers were Commanded by Allah SWT to exercise patience in the face of adversity. Psychological, intellectual warfare were combatted by adhering to the task assigned by Allah SWT to the faithful - remain true to the Truth, convey HIS Message, be steadfast and persevere, and leave the rest to HIM. Not a single Law exists in the Qur'an which calls for the punishment of those who blaspheme against Allah SWT and HIS Messengers. Whilst believers are required to defend themselves if aggressors and oppressors wage wars against them, the best defence against verbal fisticuffs is and always has been beautiful patience.
Surah 3 Al-Imraan, Verse 186
You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who recieved the Scripture before you and from those who ascribe partners to Allah; but if you persevere patiently, and become pious then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs.
Part 3: The Majority View
Often, people adhere to views, practices or beliefs simply because they find the majority believing or doing the same things. Many are comforted by conforming to what they believe to be established facts or truths. Most do not examine, scrutinise or research conventional wisdom - they accept them without question. This silent quiescence in religious (indeed, in all areas of human life and endeavour) matters results in static societies, unbending, unmoving - neither progressing nor advancing, but fixed and closed.
The few who challenge the established order meet with the same fate as their exalted predeccessors (pbut) - they are declared liars, forgers, fabricators and sorcerers. Indeed, the language as well as the thought processes of disbelieving people remains unchanging. Nevertheless, it is important to question beliefs and practices not found in the Qur'an - regardless of whether great scholars have attached their names to them, and irrespective of how enamoured the masses may be of them:
Surah 6 Al-An-'aam, Verse 116
Now f you were to pay heed the majority of those (who live) on earth, they will but lead you astray from the path of Allah: they follow but (other people's) conjectures, and they themselves do nothing but guess.
In conlusion then, if scholars - strenghthened by the majority - or the Traditions, contradict or conflict with the Qur'an, they ought to be rejected -
Surah 4 An-Nisaa, Verse 82
Will they not, then, try to understand this Qur'an? Had it issued from any but Allah, they would surely have found in it many an inner contradiction!
Verse 87
Allah! La Ilaha Illa Huwa. Surely, HE Will gather you together on the Day of Resurrection about which there is no doubt. And whose Word could be truer than Allah's - Wa Man Asdaqu Min-Allahi Hadeethan?
Allahu 'Alam
Translations from:
"The Message Of The Qur'an" by Muhammad Asad

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