Pastor Nadarkhani, Islam and Punishment for Apostasy

HuffingtonPost by Haris Zafar: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is currently on death row in Iran for the “crime” of converting to Christianity from Islam. The charges of his initial arrest in 2009 were for protesting, which were later changed to apostasy and evangelism. In Sept. 2010, an Iranian court verbally delivered a death sentence, which was then delivered in writing a month later by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal. After submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court the very next month, the third chamber of the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in June 2011 and the execution orders were given in Feb. 2012, which can be implemented at any time. Throughout the process, he was told his life would be spared if he recanted his belief in Christianity, which he refused to do.

This verdict clearly violates numerous human rights, which is why President Obama, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Amnesty International and the American Center for Law and Justice have all condemned this conviction and called for Nadarkhani’s release.

As a Muslim, however, I find this verdict’s religious violations equally troublesome. Far too many people — Muslim and non-Muslim — mistakenly believe Islam prohibits freedom of conscience and religion by prescribing punishments for matters like apostasy and blasphemy, whereas Islam’s Holy Scripture and Prophet do not support such punishments.

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2 replies

  1. Yes, I whole-heartedly agree. In fact, just a couple of days ago, I signed a petition for this man’s release and also wrote the reason why he should be given his freedom from the point of view of Islam and the Holy Qur’an.

    Nowhere in Islam’s entire history or in the Holy Book is this ridiculous punishment upheld. If anything, it’s just the opposite.

    Do these Iranians really read the Qur’an? I wonder. Don’t they read the verse where it says that when a person accepts Islam, then, recants, then again becomes a believer and again disbelieves; and dies as such – God will deal with him in the hereafter. Nowhere are mere humans given this mandate of meting out punishment on such people. Only He knows how to deal with them!

    And how would a person after disbelieving get the chance to become a believer again, if his life was cut short by blood thirsty nincompoops?

    Truly, the Promised Messiah (as) was urgently needed to bring back people from such ‘dark thinking ages’, yet they won’t believe. Alas, for them…!

  2. Punishment for Apostasy was the collective belief of Disbelievers against all prophets. According to disbelievers the prophets changed their religion so they were made aware of the consequences of leaving their original beliefs. They were threatend to be killed and exiled till the time they accepted the disbeliever’s faith.
    Following verse of the Holy Qur’an describes the background of punishment for Apostasy.
    And those who disbelieved said to their Messengers, ‘We will, surely, expel you from our land unless you return to our religion.’ Then their Lord sent unto them the revelation: ‘We will, surely, destroy the wrongdoers. [14:14]
    Therefore the apostasy punishment came from disbelievers for prophets and not from Muslims for Muslims leaving Islam. There are instances quoted in Ahadith where no punishment was prescribed for those who left Islam.
    Reference: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=411&region=UR

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