Woman faces death in Sudan for apostasy


Christian woman sentenced to death for refusing to convert to Islam after being raised as a Christian.


A heavily pregnant Christian woman in Sudan has been sentenced to hang for not being raised as a Muslim. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was convicted on charges of apostasy, or the abandonment of religion, by a court in Khartoum. Following her conviction on Sunday, she was given three days to recant her faith or face a possible death sentence.

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.



Categories: Africa, Sudan

12 replies

  1. There is no punishment for apostasy in Islam, see:


    In earlier chapters we have given numerous references from the Holy Quran and the history of Islam to expose the fallacy that Islam prescribes any corporal punishment for those who renounce Islam as their faith. We examined at length the most common arguments presented by the advocates of death for apostasy, namely the report of Ikramah and the incident of zakat in Hazrat Abu Bakr’s time. Some other arguments are examined in this chapter.

    It is difficult to assess whether the concept of coercion in Islam had its birth on Islamic soil or was the child of the orientalists’ imagination and was later on transferred to the lap of Islam. Having examined this in the light of Islamic history, I honestly believe that the idea first took root in the Islamic world itself and that it is wrong of us to blame the orientalists for having initiated it. They picked it up from the Muslims: before the orientalists were even born, the idea seems to have been present in medieval Islamic thought. It originated in the late Umayyad dynasty. Throughout the Abbaside period, the idea continued to flourish and was further strengthened because the Abbaside sovereigns wanted to use force not only against the enemies of Islam but also against their own people. A license for this was not infrequently sought from Muslim scholars under their influence. The concept has therefore arisen from the conduct and policies of the post-Khalifat-i-Rashida1 Muslim governments of Baghdad.

    Looking on from the outside, Western scholars believed that this was an Islamic teaching, but the fact was that it was not Islamic at all. It was the basis of the behavior of some Muslim governments. We should remember that the idea had its birth in an age when all over the world the use of force for the spread of influence and ideology was a common feature and no exception was taken to this.

    It is clear that the allegation that Islam advocates the use of force for the spread of its ideology does not originate from a study of the sources of Islamic teachings but from a study of the conduct of some Muslim states. Now that a new era has dawned in which all the Islamic literature and traditions are available to us and the Holy Quran has been translated into so many languages—when Western scholars have direct access to the sources of Islamic teachings—their persistence in making the allegation is unjustified. They should go to the sources and study the teachings of the Holy Quran, the traditions and the conduct of the Holy Prophet, Muhammadsa, himself.

    This work is an attempt to examine the whole issue, not in the light of how Muslims of a certain era behaved, but in the light of the fundamental teachings of the Holy Quran and the exposition of those teachings by the words of the Holy Prophetssa and by his conduct.

    The tendency to judge teachings by the conduct of their followers has often misled people about the original teachings. It is universally observed that after a while all religions lose their influence on the conduct of their adherents. For illustrations of this, study the behavior of the Buddhists of today or of earlier eras, study the behavior of the Hindu governments, and so on and so forth; it often has no relationship whatsoever with the original teachings. In particular, politics must not be confused with religion; political behavior of a nation should not be treated as a mirror reflecting the teachings of the religion which its people are supposed to follow.

    It is against this background that we examine the arguments presented by the advocates of death as a Punishment for Apostasy.

    Definition of an Apostate

    The Holy Quran states:

    They will not stop fighting you until they turn you back from your faith, if they can. The works of those from among you who turn back from their faith and die in a state of disbelief shall be vain in this world and the next. These are the inmates of the fire, therin shall they abide. (2. 218)

    This means that whoever, out of fear of the sword (or the pain of punishment), decides to abjure Islam has a fundamental right to do so but no one else has the right to declare him to be an apostate. The right to declare himself to bean apostate lies only with him. Nowhere in the Holy Quran has this right been granted to others. That is to say, one is free to renounce one’s own religion but has no right to impose renunciation of religion on others. According to Islamic teachings, an apostate, therefore, cannot be manufactured by religious scholars or the clergy or any non-tolerant individual or government.

    The Holy Quran also states: ‘Surely, those who have turned away after guidance has been made manifest to them have been deceived by Satan who has beguiled them with false hopes.’ (47.26)

    Other Verses from the Holy Quran on Apostasy

    The Holy Quran says:

    O ye who believe, whoso from among you turns back from his religion let him remember that in place of such a person, Allah will soon bring a people whom He will love and who will love Him, who will be kind and considerate towards the believers and firm and unyielding towards the disbelievers. They will strive hard in the cause of Allah and will not at all take to heart the reproaches of fault finders. That is Allah’s grace; He bestows it upon whosoever He pleases. Allah is the Lord of vast bounty, All-Knowing. (5.55)

    Whoso disbelieves in Allah after he has believed, excepting the case of one who is forced to make a declaration of disbelief while his heart rests securely in faith, but one who opens his mind wide to disbelief; on him is Allah’s wrath and he shall have a grievous punishment. (16.107)

    Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve and thereafter go on increasing in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them, nor guide them to any way of deliverance. (4.138)

    Muhammad is but a Messenger; of a surety, all Messengers before him have passed away. If then, he dies or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? He who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah a whit. Allah will certainly reward the grateful. (3.145)

    No corporal punishment can be understood to have been mentioned by any stretch of imagination in the foregoing passages from the Holy Quran.

    Surah Al-Tauba

    In a desperate search for at least one verse in the Holy Quran which might lend support for death as a Punishment for Apostasy, recourse has been made to verses 12 and 13 of Chapter 9 (Surah AI-Tauba). We quote below verses 3–14 of that chapter. These speak for themselves and defy all attempts on the part of anyone who would have them understood differently:

    3. This is a public proclamation on the pan of Allah and His Messenger on the day of the Great Pilgrimage, that Allah is free of all obligation to the idolaters, and so is His Messenger. So now, having witnessed this Sign, if you will repent and make peace, it wilt be better for you; but if you hum away, then know that you cannot frustrate Allah’s design. Warn the disbelievers of a painful chastisement.

    4. Excepting those of them with whom you have a pact and who have not defaulted in any respect, nor supported anyone against you. Carry out the obligations you have assumed towards them till the end of their terms. Surely, Allah loves those who are mindful of their obligations.

    5. When the period of four months during which hostilities are suspended expires, without the idolaters having settled the terms of peace with you, resume fighting with them and kill them wherever you find them and make them prisoners and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. Then if they repent and observe prayers and pay the zakat, leave them alone. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.

    6. If any one of the idolaters seeks asylum with thee, grant him asylum so that he may hear the Word of Allah; then convey him to a place of security for him, for they are a people who lack knowledge.

    7. How could there be a guarantee for the idolaters on the part of Allah and His Messenger, except in favor of those with whom you entered into an express treaty at the Sacred Mosque? So long as they carry out their obligations the reunder, you must carry out your obligations. Surely, Allah loves those who are mindful of their obligations.

    8. How can there be a guarantee for the others who, if they were to prevail against you, would have no regard for any tie of kinship or pact in respect of you. They seek to please you with words, while their hearts repudiate them; most of them are perfidious.

    9. They have bartered the Sign of Allah for small gains and hindered people from His way. Evil indeed is that which they have done.

    10. They show no regard for any tie of kinship or any pact in respect of a believer. It is they who are the transgressors.

    11. If they repent and observe prayer and pay the zakat, then they are your brethren in faith. We expound our commandments for a people who know.

    12. But if they break faith after pledging it and ridicule your religion, then fight these leaders of disbelief that they may desist, for they have no regard for their pledged word.

    13. Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths, who plotted to turn out the Messenger from his home, and who were the first to start hostilities against you? Do you fear them? It is Allah Who is Most Worthy that you should fear Him, if you are believers.

    14. Fight them: Allah will punish them at your hands, and will humiliate them, and will help you to overcome them, and will relieve the minds of the believers of fear and distress.

    Those who deduce from verses 12 and 13 that the Punishment for Apostasy is death offer no explanation of the contradiction this creates with numerous other verses. These verses relate to the period after the migration from Mecca to Medina (see verse 3) when the Quraish of Mecca had embarked upon hostilities to wipe out Islam by force.

    The advocates of capital Punishment for Apostasy should remember that these verses refer to idolaters who have broken their pledges and ridicule religion; there is no mention of people renouncing their faith. They have broken their pledge after their firm commitment to it. Those who have become hostile to your religion are the first to initiate hostilities against you. The permission for you to fight them is restricted to their leaders whose covenants are worthless and false. The permission is given in order to stop them from entering into hostile acts against you.

    This is the true meaning of these verses which have been misconstrued by the advocates of capital punishment. There is not even the remotest reference to people who renounce their faith being forced to become Muslims. The same people are discussed in another part of the Holy Quran:

    It may be that Allah will bring about amity between you and those with whom you are at enmity. Allah has the power; Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. 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 that you make friends with those who have fought against you because of your religion and have driven you out of your homes and have aided others in driving you out. Whoso makes friends with them, those are the transgressors. (60.8–10)

    Temporary Disbelief

    Another verse of the Holy Quran states:

    A section of the people of the Book urge some from among themselves: why not affirm, in the early part of the day, belief in that which has been revealed unto the believers and repudiate it in the latter part of the day, perchance they may turn away from their faith. (3.73)

    The people of the Book mentioned in this verse are the Jews of Medina. Theirs was a Jewish tactic to create doubt among the Muslims in the hope that some of them might thereby by beguiled into repudiating Islam. How could it be possible for the Jews to have enacted this plan if death was a penalty for apostasy? Had anyone been executed for commuting this crime, that would have been a deterrent for others who would not follow in their footsteps.

    The advocates of the death penalty urge that this verse merely refers to a Jewish philosophy which was never put into practice by them. Even if it was merely a philosophy, this verses conclusive proof of there being no punishment in this world for apostasy because the Jews could never have conceived the idea had there been such a punishment. Moreover, it is wrong to say that the idea was a hypothetical case; the books of tradition mention that it was put into practice by twelve Jewish divines of Khaibar and Urainah.2(See also p.65)

    All commentaries agree that this chapter of the Holy Quran was revealed between the victory of Mecca and the demise of the Holy Prophetsa. This conclusively proves that the Jews put it into practice after Islam became firmly established in Arabia. How could the Jews ever think of such a suicidal and insane strategy if death was prescribed as a Punishment for Apostasy? How could they encourage Muslims to follow their faith by affirming it during the day and repudiating it at the end of the day if they knew that the Muslims would be executed for changing their faith?


    The advocates of capital Punishment for Apostasy misconstrue out of all proportion the traditions narrated about the Holy Prophetsa. Traditions lend no support to their thesis. On the contrary, there are many traditions which clearly show that there is no Punishment for Apostasy in this life.

    However, for the sake of completeness, we set out those traditions which are most often cited by advocates of capital Punishment for Apostasy.

    Abu Qalabah reports on the authority of Anas that the Holy Prophetsa told the people of Akal or Uraynah to go and stay among his she-camels outside Medina. These people killed the keeper of the camels and ran away with the herd. Although it is true that these people had become apostates, their punishment was not a result of their apostasy but of their murder of the keeper of the she-camels. (See also page 34.)
    Whereas Ibn Khatal, who was without doubt one of the four executed on the fall of Mecca, was an apostate, he had also committed the crime of murdering his traveling companion. His execution was, therefore, obviously ordered as a result of his having been convicted as a murderer. (See also page 66.)
    Another incident is that of Maqees b. Sababah who killed an Ansar in revenge for Hisham, his brother, who was accidentally killed during the campaign of Zeeqard. Thereafter, Maqees became an apostate. He was executed on account of the murder of the Ansar. (See also page 67.) In each one of the above incidents, the executed person had committed murder. The three people had also happened to renounce their faith, but how can anyone shut their eyes to the murders and attribute their executions to their acts of apostasy?
    The advocates of capital Punishment for Apostasy rely heavily on a tradition which mentions the execution of a woman for apostasy. This tradition is most unreliable, to say the least. The truth of the matter is that the Holy Prophetsa never ordered the execution of a woman on account of her apostasy. The well-known treatise of jurisprudence, Hedayah, sets out the following:

    The Holy Prophetsa forbade the killing of women for apostasy, because the principle of punitive regulations is that in such cases the penalty should be left for the hereafter, as a penalty imposed in this life would contravene the purpose of apostasy, being a trial calling to account what pertains to God alone. This can be departed from only when the object in view is to restrain the person concerned from continuing hostilities (during times of war). As women, by their very nature, are not capable of fighting, a woman apostate cannot be punished in any case

    Old interpretation; Often we hear from scholars and clerics those who turns back from his faiths will be punished to death. This scholar or clerics follows the false hadits or ancient Arab tradition Hadits, not based on Al Quran.
    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.
    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
    Modren interpretation; Always based on Al Quran below, those who turns back from his faiths will not be punished. Allah will give people the freedom to choose his beliefs,and there is NO compulsion in Islam. As Alah said;
    O you who believe, if anyone from you turns back from his Faith, then Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble toward the believers, hard on the disbelievers, who fight in the way of Allah and are not afraid of the reproach of any critic. That is a grace of Allah. He confers it on whom He wills. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. QS 5: (54)
    Whoever rejects Faith, his effort will go to waste and, in the Hereafter, he will be among the losers.QS 5:5
    EXTREMIST MUSLIM believe in idol Muslim though the book of Hadits THAN ALLAH and Prophet said in Al Quran.
    Allah warned these extremist Muslim who believe in Scholars as idols,as Lord..
    They have taken their priests and their scholars (idols) for their Lords besides God Q S . 9:31.
    This verse is very clear,no doubt about it.
    Proved that Extremist Muslim lead people become musyik to believe idols that God. They go astray and kill innocent people, this is insane.
    We need to fix it urgently.
    With my love

  3. @ Rafiq A. Tschannen..
    You can see now clearly that Allah forbid to punish and kill apostasy. Religious freedom is really tenet or core of Islamic teaching.
    Extremist Muslim believe and follow,instead of Allah alone, but idol from the book of Hadits.
    We all know that the book of Hadits compiled hundreds year after prophet’s death. So Prophet did have chance to examine all hadits under his name.This is critical point.
    What I like to ask — Rafiq A. Tschannen—where do Muslim Ahmadiyah stand for ? Do you think the book of Hadits is still creditable—as the book of guidance for Muslim after Holy Al Quran? Thanks
    All love

  4. alatif, as I said before, it is not always black and white. It is not always all good or all bad. One has to have a nuance position about many things in life.

    Most husbands love their wives, but, sometimes they may not appreciate, what they want to do to their mothers. This is called a nuance position also described in an idiom as ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.’

    There are fabricated Hadith and then there are wonderful Hadiths.

    The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community follows a simple matrix or yard stick that those Hadiths that cannot be harmonized with the Quranic teachings have to be laid aside.

    Let me share with all readers, two very beautiful collections of Hadith:

    1. Gardens of the Righteous by Imam Nawawi, translated into English by Sir Zafrulla Khan.

    2. A Collection of Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad with Foreword by Mahatma Gandhi

  5. @ Zia Shah—-I am with you–quote-There are fabricated Hadith and then there are wonderful Hadiths.unquote.
    I still want you to make clear statement..in order do not make someone confused. The law should be clear,if the law is nor clear, perfect, people will be confused, misused, Right? This is what is happening now in Sudan, Middle east and Pakistan.
    If Government want to make a law , should be clear, no double interpretation–if a law is not clear, this law should be corrected, or should be withdrawn .
    The book of Hadits, you say that —There are fabricated Hadith—should be withdrawn from the book of Hadits, otherwise the bad / stupid Muslim/enemy of Muslim will use the false Hadits to justify his action to kill apostasy as we see now. they kill Muslim Ahmadiyah and Shia.Right?
    What do think Zia Shah–?
    with love

  6. First: Please keep the comments short. Writing full chapters in the comment section is not discussion.
    Second: The punishment of death for apostasy in Islam is based upon the unanimous decisions of the great scholars such as ALL SEVEN imams of fiqh including Imam Abu Hanifah. Even if they did not have access to the correct ahadith, they all had access to the Holy Quran. This is their understanding of the Holy Quran.
    Third: Now when we have come to the West, we realize that a higher culture of freedom exists. Once again let us learn Islam from the West!! Unfortunately even those of us who advocate freedom to change religion still believe in other punishments such as boycotts of those who do not conform to our understanding of religion.
    Fourth: Quran is clear on this subject, “There is no coercion in the matters of religion”. This is an absolute teaching with no exceptions. No religious authority or leader has the power to impose any type of punishment on anyone based upon religion. In fact the position of the religious leaders is because of religion. Hence they have no power to punish at all.

  7. @ Lutf–
    quote-Second: The punishment of death for apostasy in Islam is based upon the unanimous decisions of the great scholars such as ALL SEVEN imams of fiqh including Imam Abu Hanifah. Even if they did not have access to the correct ahadith, they all had access to the Holy Quran. This is their understanding of the Holy Quran.–unquote.
    I would like ask you a question regarding paragraph above.
    Where did you get such information?
    Do you think it is true,right and no mistake?
    Allah warned us all here.
    Then what Message, after that (Al Quran), will they believe in? QS.77:50
    —do you believe in the book of prophet’s Muhammad’s history, in the book of the companions of prophet’s history –in the book of Hadits…etc
    They have taken their priests and their scholars (idols)for their Lords besides God Q S . 9:31
    Lutf—can you give me your opinion regarding your paragraph above and QS 9:31. QS 77:50.Thanks
    All love

  8. @Alatif
    Yes. This is a fact. It is mentioned everywhere in the books of fiqh. All seven Imams including Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Imam Shafi and Imam Abu Hanifa as well as three great fiqh Imams of the Shia faith agreed on the death penalty for the apostates. Only difference was that some would execute immediately while others would give a period of three days for repentance. Most would not execute women. Other than that there is no disagreement among these Imams.
    Yes. I agree with you that Muslims have taken their religious leaders and scholars for gods. They ignore the teachings of the Quran and follow the defective and self serving rulings of the leaders of the religion.
    My view is based upon Quran. “There is no compulsion in the matters of religion.” So as far as I am concerned God has not permitted any man, no matter how high or holy, to punish any other human being on the basis of religion.

  9. Our position on Hadiths

    We have frequent comments about Hadiths and some have the naive idea of editing some of the books of Hadiths and take out what they do not like, as some sort of panacea to reform the Muslims.

    This is a childish solution, there is a word for it in modern parlor, it is called ‘forgery.’

    You cannot recreate a book, which has existed for centuries in your own image.

    We just have to understand and read the books of Hadiths, with better understanding and wisdom and not take every thing as ‘gospel truth.’

    There are fabricated Hadith and then there are wonderful Hadiths.

    The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community follows a simple matrix or yard stick that those Hadiths that cannot be harmonized with the Quranic teachings have to be laid aside.

    Let me share with all readers, two very beautiful collections of Hadith:

    1. Gardens of the Righteous by Imam Nawawi, translated into English by Sir Zafrulla Khan.

    2. A Collection of Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad with Foreword by Mahatma Gandhi

    Anyone who reads these collections, will find that there is a large collection of real gems of Hadiths, which we have to look for and find, from the vast collection, some of which are distasteful and a few real ugly!

  10. The problem with hadith is that most scholars have used hadith to explain away the verses of the Quran. So it may look like a good solution that when a hadith clashes with the verse of the Quran, we should discard it. But it is not so easy. In case of punishment for apostasy this is exactly what has happened. Based upon hadith, the great scholars of the past have explained away the verses of the Quran. Even today there are many who claim to be reforming and yet restrict the meaning of the verse “la ikraha fid deen”.
    It is important to keep pointing out that our religion is in the Quran. Nothing can originate outside of the Quran. Only those ahadith can be accepted which support a teaching of the Quran. No religious teaching can originate in the hadith. Even when Quran does not say anything about some issue, hadith cannot be used as they are unreliable.
    If you accept that there are thousands of fabricated ahadith and even the most authentic books of ahadith include them, then how can you trust anything in these books. This is simple logic. Using the same logic we condemn the Torah and Injeel every day.
    Prophet gave us only two sources of guidance. 1) Quran 2) Sunnah. Let us understand that. He did not say hadith. Sunnah is his practice, not his sayings.

  11. @ Zia Shah—
    Is this Muslim Ahmadiyah belief or your belief?
    quote–You cannot recreate a book, which has existed for centuries in your own image.
    We just have to understand and read the books of Hadiths, with better understanding and wisdom and not take every thing as ‘gospel truth.’
    There are fabricated Hadith and then there are wonderful Hadiths.unquote
    From your statement above seems is double standard.
    You admit that there are false hadits in the book of Hadits, and excellent Hadits….I agree 100 percent with you.I am so happy to hear that.
    The difference between you and me is;
    I strongly suggest that we have to withdraw all the false hadits from the book of Hadits. The book of Hadits is not created by God, but by men. So there is no reason we can not correct the old book of Hadits? Make a new book without contains the false hadits. No thing wrong?
    Second reason, you should agree that the false Hadits are using by extremist Muslim or enemy of Islam to kill apostasy, blasphemy and your brothers,Muslim Ahmadiyah almost every months or years.
    According to you, which one is most benefits between to make a new book of Hadits than ignore it?
    If we ignore these false hadits, we know that there some false hadits,and then we just ignore it. This act is also a big sins.
    If we ignore, more Muslim Ahmadiyah will get killed in the hand of stupid Muslims. Please ponder—Zhia? I am so sad, so pity and heartbreaking if Extremist Muslim kill Muslim Ahmadiyah under the name of Islam or sunnah Rasulullah(saw).
    Are you NOT sad, heartbreaking? Zhia.
    All love

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