| Rizwi S. Faizer Ph.D. McGill
The Issue of Apostassy and Islam
April 3rd 2006
It is important to know that the Qur'an does not require or even suggest that the punishment for apostassy should be death.Indeed, most students of Islam are only too familiar with the Quranic declaration "There is no compulsion in religion." The Qur'an describes apostates as those who have strayed from the straight path (Q 2:108 and 4:167); and although apostates are assigned a place in hell they are never threatened with any corporeal punishment in this world. Q2: 109 claims that "Many people of the book would like to turn you back into unbelieversafter you have professed the faith. . . Pardon and forgive them till God brings His commands." According to Q3:176-77"Let not their conduct grieve you, who rush into disbelief, for lo! they injure God not at all. . " Moreover, despite the apostates fate in the hereafterthey can always become Muslims again for God is "forgiving and Merciful." It is the ahadith that stipulate, contrary to the Qur'an, that an apostate should be punished by death. However these ahadith emerged after the death of the Prophet, and this stipulation reflects a reality that does not agree with the actions of the Prophet. Today we realize, more and more, that the Qur'an is a far better and more accurate representation of the Prophet's actions than are the ahadith. It would seem that the punishment of death for apostassy was first practiced by Abu Bakr, and that those who followed him sanctioned this practice.
By Rizwi Faizer
The Issue of the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad
Feb. 13, 2006
The cartoons were not simmple statements of fun. They were political statements portraying the Prophet as a terrorist. They are therefore insulting and hurtful to his followers who believe that his teachings were quite the opposite: showing love, care and concern not merely for a select few but for all mankind, whether black or white, man or woman, rich or poor; and what ever the tribe.
There are other facts to be taken into account. First, that the Danish criminal code, sections 266b and 140, forbids the dissemination of infomation that insults or degrades a group of people on the basis of their faith, or mocks the doctrines or worship of a religious community. Second, that earlier in April 2003, drawings lampooning Christ had NOT been published by the editor Jyllands-Posten on grounds that they would provoke an outcry.
Both the acts of pulishing and protesting are guaranteed by democracies as freedom of expression. But both these activities must be excercised with reponsibility and discretion.
In discussing the recent events, it would certainly have helped if those organizing such discussions investigated the affair and indicated the double standards displayed by the journalists concerned.
By Rizwi Faizer
N.B. Click on Bibliography to view a classified bibliography of significant books and articles; click on Reviews to view my reviews of selected texts. Use the Search tool placed on selected pages to discover the numerous and various articles and books written by a particular author or specific topics. Sept. 19, 2001
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� 1998 Rizwi Faizer.
|The design on the sides is an adaptation of the eighth century Mshata wall.|