Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why is an Afghani Man on Trial for leaving Islam?

** Muslim view and opinion on Afghan who converted from Islam to Christianity **

America's leading Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who I (Ahmed Bedier) represent in Florida, did the right thing by calling for the release of an Afghan man who claims to have left Islam for Christianity. A few Muslims might be scratching their head and asking "wait a minute why are Muslims supporting a man's right to leave their religion." The answer is clear in the Quran, the ultimate source of Islamic Law or Shariah. Now before I get a ton of email asking for my clerical credentials, I confess that I am not a scholar by any means nor do I have the authority to give any sort of fatwa.

But read for yourself:

  • 'Let there be no compulsion in religion.' (Quran 2:256)

Islam came to liberate mankind from oppressive nations/tribes who forced religion on the people. Since Islam came and wherever it spread people enjoyed freedom of religion. European Christians, who were forced to practice what the Church forced upon them, envied those living in the Muslim World who were free to practice their faith as they wanted to.

  • 'If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?' (Quran 10:99)
  • '(O Prophet) proclaim: 'This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.'' (Quran 18:29)3)

Both verses are divine testaments in the Quran on the concept of free will. Even God the Almighty has given mankind free will to choose their faith, will mankind restrict that free will on their subjects?? It doesn't make sense.

  • 'If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their keeper. Your only duty is to convey My message.' (Quran 42:48)4)

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) passed away, Muslims inherited the message from the messenger (pbuh). Muhammad (pbuh), the beloved example, was not sent to force religion on people or be their keeper. His duty, which Muslims inherited, is to only convey the message. Let God be the judge.

Some folks reading this will say 'that's cool and all, but how is it that Afghanistan is justifying the prosecution (and possible death penalty) of a man who changed his religion? My only guess is, since I have not found any official position yet, is that they're interpreting Islamic Law based on ancient conditions, where Islamic scholars use to equate apostasy (leaving the religion) to treason. Back then Islamic scholars used to define earth/world in geo-political terms of 'Dar al-Islam' the abode of Islam and 'Dar al-Harb' the abode of war. Which meant that if a person was not among the Muslims or from the Muslims he/she joined the other abode and committed an act of treason against the Islamic state. However in many parts of the Muslim world this was considered a narrow interpretation. Since in places like Spain and India where Muslims ruled for centuries they rarely ever persecuted non-Muslims.

The bottom line is Islam is not hurting for numbers, it continues to be one of the fastest growing religions (if not the fastest) and is the 2nd largest religious community in the world. Numbers are not important, as my father always told me "Ahmed, it's not the quanity that we need, it's the Quality!" He couldn't be more right.

Islamic scholars in Afghanistan need to rethink their position on the issue of apostasy, and interpert the Quran and Islamic law in the context and reality of today. There is NOT as single verse in the Quran that commands death for those that leave the faith.

While some might rightly argue that it is premature to release any statements on the individual case of Abdul Rahman, since we don't have the facts of his case, we can still take a position on the issue of apostasy. In the coming days and weeks we learn more and more about Abdul Rahman and why he was arrested in the first place.

To Read what other scholars have said about the topic, check out the following links:

Afghan Tried for Christianity

Fatwa: Dr. Jamal Badawi and Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah on 'Freedom of Belief in Islam

note: Ahmed Bedier is not responsible for the content found on the above links and/or any other website.


fromclay said...

Thanks for this post. This an issue that won't go away without properly addressing it. If you don't mind, I'd like for you to take a look at what I wrote about this topic.


Anonymous said...

أستاذ أحمد
أضع هذا الرد بالعربية و أتمنى منك ترجمته بسرعة للقارئين هنا

لماذا لا ينظر الغرب في كتبه المقدسة قبل أن يتهم الإسلام بالوحشية لأنه يوجب قتل المرتد

ألم ينظر الرئيس الأمريكي و بابا الفاتيكان في كتبهم المقدسة قبل أن يناشدوا أفغانستان بإطلاق سراح الأفغاني المرتد

يقول الكتاب المقدس في العهد القديم
سفر التثنية
الإصحاح السابع عشر
إذا وجد في وسطك رجل أو إمرأة، يفعل شراً و يعبد آلهة أخرى .. قد عمل ذلك الرجس في إسرائيل، فأخرج ذلك الرجل أو تلك المرأة، و أرجمه بالحجارة حتى يموت .. فتخرج الشر من وسطك

أليس هذا حكماً بقتل المرتد في الشريعة اليهودية
ألا ترتكز النصرانية أساساً على التشريعات الموسوية

أم أنهم عطلوا كل أحكام دينهم
و يريدون منا تعطيل أحكام ديننا

مع الشكر

Ahmed Bedier said...


Bandar in the previous post does make a valid point about scripture in the Bible (Old Testament, Deuteronomy 17:2-5) related to the punishment for apostasy.

**TRANSLATION OF PREVIOUS POST BY bandar, original in Arabic***

Mr. Ahmed
Post this reply in Arabic and I wish that you would translate it quickly for readers here.

Why doesn't the West in their own Sacred Books before accusing Islam of violence because it mandates death for apostasy.

Doesn't the President of the United States and the Pope of the Vatican in their own Holy Books before pressuring Afghanistan to release the Afghan apostate?

The Holy Bible says in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 17:

"If you find in your midst a man or woman that does
that which is evil in the sight of God and worships another god... and that
this was done within Israel, then bring that man or that woman and stone them to
death..... that you shall remove the evil from among your midst"
Is this not a commandment to kill the apostate in the Law of Judaism? Isn't Christianity based primarily on the Laws of Moses?

Didn't they (Christians and Jews) suspend/stop/remove all of the commandments of their religion and they want us (Muslims) to suspend the commandments of our religion?

With thanks


I looked up the verses mentioned by Bandar and pasted them below courtesy of

17:2 If there be found in the midst of you, within any of your gates which Yahweh your God gives you, man or woman, who does that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh your God, in transgressing his covenant,
17:3 and has gone and served other gods, and worshiped them, or the sun, or the moon, or any of the army of the sky, which I have not commanded;
17:4 and it be told you, and you have heard of it, then you shall
inquire diligently; and behold, if it be true, and the thing certain, that such
abomination is done in Israel,
17:5 Then you shall bring forth that man or that woman, who has done this evil thing, to your gates, even the man or the woman; and you shall stone them to death with stones.
17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he who is to die be put to death; at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
17:7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first on him to put him
to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall put away the
evil from the midst of you.

Anonymous said...

If the Pope or the President of the United States have called for the death of a Christian 'apostate', do you think they dare to call for clemency for that Afghani man?

The 'law' that you've quoted from the bible (from the post in Arabic below) comes from the book of Deuteronomy. If you read carefully, there's many other laws in the Old Testament that are not practicised by Christians today, not just the stonning of corrupted Jews. Why didn't you ask about the sacrifices that we're supposed to bring and burn for God?

Since the coming of Jesus, some of these commandments are no longer in binding? Why? Read more here. It gives a thorough understanding.

makatbi said...

هذا كلام صحيح باخي واتمنى ان يعمل به