A Christian Sentenced to Death in Sudan for Apostasy and the Muslim Times’ Response

Epigraph:

Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor will He guide them to the way. (Al Quran 4:138)

By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy – the abandonment of her religious faith – after she married a Christian man, according to BBC.

Amnesty International condemned the sentence, handed down by a judge in Khartoum, as “appalling and abhorrent”.

Local media report the sentence on the woman, who is pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by ‘Islamic law.’

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death,” the judge told the woman, AFP reports.

We, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, believe that there is no worldly punishment for apostasy according to the Holy Quran. A whole thesis can be written on this subject with scores of Quranic references. One of these has been quoted as epigraph and let me quote four more here:

There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al Quran 2:257)

And:

O ye who believe! whoso among you turns back from his religion, then let it be known that in his stead Allah will soon bring a people whom He will love and who will love Him, and who will be kind and humble towards believers, hard and firm against disbelievers. They will strive in the cause of Allah and will not fear the reproach of a faultfinder. That is Allah’s grace; He bestows it upon whomsoever He pleases; and Allah is Bountiful, All- Knowing. (Al Quran 5:55)

Disbelief or apostasy is discussed on dozens of occasions in the Quran, yet no worldly punishment is prescribed:

And whoever rejects the faith, his work has doubtless come to naught, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (Al Quran 5:6)

Several times the Holy Quran describes the Holy Prophet Muhammad, as an admonishes only and that the final judgment rests with Allah and not with any human being:

Admonish, therefore, for thou art but an admonisher;  thou hast no authority to compel them.  But whoever turns away and disbelieves, Allah will punish him with the greatest punishment.  Unto Us surely is their return, then, surely, it is for Us to call them to account.  (Al Quran 88:22-27)

Several other references are quoted in a short article: Did Prophet Muhammad teach death for apostasy and blasphemy?

In the past centuries in medieval times, when the world was polarized and divided into Islamic world and Christendom, a change of religion, invariably carried political tones and smelled of rebellion and anarchy.

Hence the medieval world in both the Muslim and the Christian camps practiced ideas of apostasy and religious affiliation became a proxy for political affiliation and lack there of.  Here, I do not want to dwell on Crusades or Inquisitions in the medieval world, I will just suggest a Wikipedia article, about Thirty Years’ War, between the Protestants and the Catholics, 1618–1648.  A detailed study of this time frame brings to focus the nature of the medieval world.

For a more graphic account of the sixteenth century Europe, let me suggest a beautifully written book, Out of the Flames – The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar.

On October 27, 1553 Michael Servetus was burned at the stake as a heretic, for he did not believe in Trinity. John Calvin, a famous and influential Protestant reformer of the time, also demanded that every single copy of his latest book Christianismi Restitutio be destroyed.

Fortunately 3 copies of this book have survived. The Goldstones have tracked them down, and told the stories of the books travels from 1553 to the present day – the people who owned them, the places they went to, and where they are located now and in so doing, has laid out for us the social and religious milieu of the sixteenth century Europe.

freedom-from-religion

In our global village in the twenty first century, if a Muslim is not allowed to convert to Christianity in the so called Muslim countries and vice versa in the West, then what sort of religious freedom is that.  Additionally, what is the worth for a faith that is accepted under duress?  There is a different name for that.  It is not called ‘faith,’ it is called ‘hypocrisy.’  Do the Muslims in Sudan stand for that?  I hope not!

Freedom of religion means that we should not legislate in the sphere of ‘man relation to God.’  Rational laws are needed in the sphere of ‘man relation to man,’ for example, against murder, rape, theft and slander, for smooth functioning of societies.  Every time religious zealots try to intrude into ‘man relation to God,’ in one disguise or the other, hell breaks loose in human affairs and we are witnessing a small sample of that in this case from Sudan.

To get all countries of the world to move affairs of state out of the sphere of ‘man relation to God,’ the Muslim Times has been stressing, separation of Mosque-Church and State in every country of the world, since its very inception four years ago and is constantly calling reader’s attention to every violation committed, by any country of world.  For a glimpse of our work, let me link a short article here, Solomonic wisdom needed to establish Separation of Mosque-Church-Synagogue and State, for greater details and collection of articles on this theme, click here.

You can also read scores of articles on the subject of refutation of punishment for apostasy, by searching the word, ‘apostasy,’ in the Muslim Times.

A few of them are linked here:

Blasphemy charges pervert Islam’s teachings

Pastor Nadarkhani, Islam and Punishment for Apostasy

An online Booklet: Murder in the Name of Allah

27 replies

  1. The judge relied on a Hadith which says anyone who changes his religion kill him. However, the authenticity of the Hadith and it’s narrator have been challenged. Dr. Hassan Alturabi , a leading Sudanese Muslim Scholar has repeatedly said that there is no worldly punishment for apostasy .

  2. Dear Dr. Shah; Kudos on your very informative, well referenced, column. Knowing where we have been should help us move forward to a better world and faith if we recognize the errors that occurred and alter our beliefs and behaviors accordingly. Unfortunately, that has not entirely happened.

    I am in complete agreement with your (and the Muslim Times) position regarding the complete separation of religion and state, as well as the forcible coercion of faith in the case of this poor woman.

    I cannot believe that “The God of us All” (To Whom I am eternally grateful for Blessings received) would countenance this execution. A very, very grave error is being made here.

    And it is not just this woman that will suffer for it. All of the Ummah will, too. It cannot be denied that this incident and other extremists such as Boko Haram have captured the world’s attention. That, along with the continuing verified reports of intolerance of faith in predominatly Muslim nations
    (especially the internecine violence within Islam)
    has created negative opinions, fear of, and, yes, judgements against Islam and all Muslims by a great many non-Muslims. All will pay for the actions of some and that is a sad thing.

    Yet, it is not the responsiblity of the non-Muslim world to stop these errors. That resides only within the Ummah… We cannot help you. I can only pray for you.

  3. Chapter 2:257
    “There should be no compulsion in religion…………”
    This is for those who are NOT yet confessed to Islam,
    real these should not be forced,but once you enter in Islamic monotheism it is not obligation to follow the religion commandments,it is “COMPULSORY”.
    Remember AHMADIYYA your not MUSLIM as you think,your “WRONG”.
    Such punishment of being sentenced to death to any “MURTAD” a person who was Muslim and go astray by joining to other non Islamic religion is also mentioned in the HOLLY QUR’AN,DO NOT “BLIND” THE UMMA.

  4. quote–The judge relied on a Hadith which says anyone who changes his religion kill him. However, the authenticity of the Hadith and it’s narrator have been challenged. Dr. Hassan Alturabi , a leading Sudanese Muslim Scholar has repeatedly said that there is no worldly punishment for apostasy .–unquote
    .
    See, those who believe in scholar Muslim, Bukhari etc through the book of Hadits, Allah or Prophet Muhammad commanded to kill apostasy as Bukhari said;
    .
    Anyone who changes his religion (out of Islam, apostasy) then kill. Wherever you meet them, then kill them. Because real people are killed they will get a reward at the Judgment Day “Bukhari
    .
    Anyone of you who saw heresy, apostasy, let is changing with your HANDS ( punish or kill), if not able, let the verbal, if not able to let the heart. However, such is weak as weak faith.
    HR.Muslim
    .
    They are following Islamic teaching from the book of Hadits ,second book beside Holy Al Quran.
    .
    What is wrong is that?
    .
    From my opinion, I do not believe that all Hadits Muslim and Bukhari are Sahee Hadits, There are many false hadits and violent Hadist.
    .
    For me apotasy Hadits are false Hadits,even those Hadits Muslim and Bukhari.
    .
    With love

  5. @ Abuu Aisha It’s people like you who are defaming true Islam as brought about by the Holy Prophet ( peace & blessings of Allah be upon him). Please don’t malign the name ‘ Aisha’.

  6. John 3:18

    Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

  7. John 11:25

    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

  8. @Abuu Aisha
    Can you give reference of the Quranic verse which tells you to kill the apostates?
    And if you cannot find that verse, please do not waste your time quoting any hadith on this subject. Because when Quran does not say it then those hadith which say this are all false!! They are against the Quran.
    Remember God said in the Quran, “La Ikraha fid deen”. This is an unqualified statement. It means no compulsion in any religious matters.
    If you think Islam is such a great religion then what are you afraid of. If few people leave their religion, what does it matter? Relax and use your common sense. Don’t be blood thirsty. May God help you to understand.

  9. Killing in the name of religion? Aren’t natural and accidental deaths enough to punch holes in our lives?

  10. Not only “la ikraha fid deen” no compulsion in religion, is in the Holy Qur’an but also “la kum deeno kum wa le ya deen” For you your Religion, and for me my Religion. It could not be clearer that you practice what you like and there is no compulsion. Anyone who goes astray, will himself or herself be answerable to his Creator. No one else has the right to punish anyone for their beliefs or lack of it.

  11. [The judge relied on a Hadith which says anyone who changes his religion kill him.]

    The above is a bad sentence and seems to be wrong by all means. Does it mean any one who changes his religion, kill him? If he changes his religion from Christian to Muslim then kill him?
    The words seem to be meaningless and cannot be from the prophet s.a.w.s.
    Abu Aisha is wrong. There is no punishment mentioned in Quran for apostasy. Hadith cannot overtake (or take charge of) the Quran. Quran says there is no compulsion in religion.
    But killing a person due to religious matter is maximum compulsion, so cannot punished.
    Also death is a capital punishment. Capital punishment cannot be awarded without express, clear directive of the Quran. And there is no directive at all to kill the apostate.
    Abu Aisha should know that it is only Islam which is providing freedom of belief. No other religion is doing that. So it would be foolish to deny freedom of faith for all people of the world.
    The Muslims, during early Islam fought wars against other states to establish freedom of faiths.
    Apostate is not the one whom people say “O you have become apostate.” It is the person who, of his own will says good bye to Islam. There is no punishment for such a person in this world just for the change of religion. Allah will decide about such a person. Men have no right even to blame or abuse any one who changes his faith.
    It is the Mullas who should improve their knowledge and try to guide the poor Muslims for a better way of life.
    Due to the bad deeds of the Mullas, Present day Muslims and Islam is in a very bad state. Mullas should improve their own state as well as the state of Muslims. Then nobody would leave islam. Presently, the fault lies on the bad religious leaders, not on the apostates.

  12. @ Ghulam Sarwar–

    quote–The words seem to be meaningless and cannot be from the prophet s.a.w.sunquote
    .
    Ghulam Sarwar, where do you stand for?

    You said; you believe in ancient scholars like scholar Muslim and Bukhari.or his hadits/.
    You said also, the laws of Allah good for all time.Can not be changed.Right?
    .
    Now you said this Hadits can not be from prophet (saw).
    Please be clear your statement.I will appreciate it.
    All love

  13. @ HUI—
    .
    quote- John 11:25
    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;unquote.
    .
    It means that those who follow God’s laws completely will live with God in Heaven, he will not die.
    .
    Be careful.. HUI.! It does not mean just believing Jesus and then go to Heaven and live with God there. But have to follow His teaching completely.
    It is not easy to get reward (Heaven)from God,have to work harder and obey all His laws. Do you agree that?
    .
    From Al Quran;
    Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allâh as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision- QS 3: (169).
    .
    Do not say of those who are slain in the way of Allah that they are dead. Instead, they are alive, but you do not perceive. QS 2; (154)
    .
    It is very clear that God said that Jesus, all prophets are still alive in Heaven or Paradise with God.
    .
    What do you think, HUI?

    All love

  14. Here is sura 4:89, Mushin Khan’s version “–SO TAKE NOT AULIYA'(PROTECTOR OR FRIENDS) FROM THEM, TILL THEY EMIGRATE IN THE WAY OF ALLAH(TO MUHAMMAD SAW), BUT IF THEY TURN THEIR BACK(FROM ISLAM), TAKE THEM AND KILL THEM WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM–“.
    Arberry “—THEN IF THEY TURN THEIR BACKS, TAKE THEM AND, SLAY THEM WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM–”
    Mahmud Yazid–“THEY WOULD HAVE YOU DISBELIEF AS THEY THEMSELVES HAVE DONE—-IF THEY DESERT YOU, SEIZE THEM AND PUT THEM TO DEATH WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM-“.
    There are many hadiths and scholarly works interpreting this verse to mean killing an apostate.
    The condemnation of this act on this blog is not because the quran has not sanctioned it. Rather because it is inhuman and reprehensible.

  15. What are the Muslim umma taken to mean in the presence of the innocent poelpe, May Allah in His Mercy forgive the misdoing of all.

  16. [The judge relied on a Hadith which says anyone who changes his religion kill him.]
    The above is a bad sentence and seems to be wrong by all means. Does it mean any one who changes his religion, kill him? If he changes his religion from Christian to Muslim then kill him?
    The words seem to be meaningless and cannot be from the prophet s.a.w.s.
    Abu Aisha is wrong. There is no punishment mentioned in Quran for apostasy. Hadith cannot overtake (or take charge of) the Quran. Quran says there is no compulsion in religion.
    But killing a person due to religious matter is maximum compulsion, so cannot punished.
    Also death is a capital punishment. Capital punishment cannot be awarded without express, clear directive of the Quran. And there is no directive at all to kill the apostate.
    Abu Aisha should know that it is only Islam which is providing freedom of belief. No other religion is doing that. So it would be foolish to deny freedom of faith for all people of the world.
    The Muslims, during early Islam fought wars against other states to establish freedom of faiths.
    Apostate is not the one whom people say “O you have become apostate.” It is the person who, of his own will says good bye to Islam. There is no punishment for such a person in this world just for the change of religion. Allah will decide about such a person. Men have no right even to blame or abuse any one who changes his faith.
    It is the Mullas who should improve their knowledge and try to guide the poor Muslims for a better way of life.
    Due to the bad deeds of the Mullas, Present day Muslims and Islam is in a very bad state. Mullas should improve their own state as well as the state of Muslims. Then nobody would leave islam. Presently, the fault lies on the bad religious leaders, not on the apostates. Thank you, what a nice point to be recon with.

  17. Reponse to Namelee’s misunderstanding of Islam, in the above comment:

    Allah does not forbid you to be kind and act equitably towards those who have not fought you because of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are equitable.

    Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:9-10)

  18. Namelee, the Koran is replete with verses that call for “apostates” to be killed. So no amount of twisting and turning on the Sudan matter can change this. What has to be changed is the mind set of muslims.
    Zia Shah, muslims love to bring in the Crusades (not started by Christians) and the Inquisition to show they are right about whatever they do in the name of the Koran. But Christianity has moved on from the middle ages. Islam is still struggling to get out of this maze.

  19. Zia,
    I gave you some of those verses in my response to your comment on mine. As usual you refused to post that comment. Now you are pretending not to know them by asking Ashok to supply what has already been provided.
    Muhammadans are quite a breed.

  20. @ Zia Shah–I love this verse— “Allah does not forbid you to be kind and act equitably towards those who have not fought you because of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are equitable.

    Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:9-10).”
    .
    Do you know what the real meaning of this verse.I bet you do.
    .
    I never hear this verse uttered by scholars at Mosque even I probably have already attended hundreds of Mosque around the world.
    .
    Do you know Zia that the main teaching of Bible is “love,compassion” as the first and second commandment of Allah.–LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOUR SELF–
    .
    The main teaching of Al Quran is Justice for all people regardless; his belief, not belief in God,as a atheist, black, White, Arab, non Arab, gay-lesbian etc all people.
    .
    Except those who hate and —have driven you out of your homes,—it means at war times..we have TO be careful to those enemies..
    .
    Zia Shah–Let us spread this verse often everywhere we have chance.
    .
    I would like ask your favor if You do not mind; as you know that TMT’s moderators still treat me unfairly. Moderators still delete some of writings, and still doing censor my article..–have to wait of moderation..
    .
    with all my love

  21. In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious Ever Merciful
    @Abuu Aisha
    Who has given Right to give verdict of “Not Muslims”
    If I do the same to you that you are not Muslim, will you become non Muslim???Holy Quran says, ” Let him live by dint of logic and let him die who dies by dint of logic” You are deprived of sound logic and you said to those who love Islam, practice Islam, propagate Islam and defend Islam on Every forum as not-Muslims??? Shame on you!!! Again Holy Quran says< "Ha-tuoo-burha-nakum in-kun-tum sad-e-qeen" Bring your logic if you are truthful. Please do not blame Allah and his Messenger. There is certainly not any verse of holy Quran in your favor and I do not know any hadith, if there be any please give full reference to that hadith. However I tel you that ummul-moumineen Hazrat Aisha (r.u.h.) said, "kholoqohoo AlQuran" So there can not be any hadith whose foundation is not in the Holy Quran.
    Let us stand fair and justice for all, what ever its gender be whatever his color or national origin be, whether he or she be believer or non believer Be JUST and FAIR to All.
    The position of Judge is a very dignified position, the person on that position should be mindful of the dignity of its position, but it seems that the Sudanese judge deprived of the dictate of Commonsense:
    First of all the girl in question raised as non-Muslim, just because her father was a Muslim,could she be called a Muslim girl who has changed her Religion? Could her becoming Christian be called apostasy? Not at All
    Even if she committed apostasy what right the judge has with her personal thinking or believing??? the Judge has nothing to do with her personal life.
    Secondly the Judge is forcing her to believe against her conscious she might be in error in thinking but against her mind and heart does not believe.
    Again the Judge think that his so called Religion is so frail that it could not survive on the dint of logic and for its survival some external force to be exerted????Islam is certainly not that frail. I myself will desist that frail religion who could only survive by external force and who could not win the mind and hearts of people.
    As earlier in some of my posts I have mentioned that The Islam is such a strong and beautiful Religion that it is secular in approach to other Religions,so much so Allah said in the Holy Quran even to the Holy Prophet of Islam "Lesta alaihim-bemo-saitir" mean you are not a policeman over them
    The Judge should mindful of the dignity of his rank and should not be a laughing stuff for the World. Allah may show him and guide him. Aameen
    Zarif Ahmad

  22. Almurshida,
    Asking if the verse in the quran means killing anyone who converts to muhammadanism, is a failure to understand that in muhammadanism the only religion recognized is islam. Converting to it is what the religion urges but leaving it is apostasy which is a capital offense. When Muhammad said ‘anyone who changes/leaves his deen’, he meant muhammadanism.
    No twisting or manipulation of the anti-apostasy verses in the quran to squeeze out a different meaning will change the fact that leaving islam is not tolerated. History has proved this to be the case.

  23. she was never a moslem. her father left them when she was a child. her parents were divorced. she is not a newly converted christian. she met her husband in her church. she did not convert after marrying him.

    • Namelee, you can make out from all the “explanations” being given how much of spin doctoring is going on to prove that leaving Islam is tolerated.
      This has been the case in other TMT boards too.

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