Getting to Know Allah
Allah and the Crime of No Longer Believing
2:257 Allah is the Supporter of the believers. He brings them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their supporters are the devils who bring them out of light into darkness. Those are the people of the Fire in which they shall abide forever.
5:54 O believers, whoever of you renounces his religion, Allah will certainly bring forth (replace them) a people whom He loves and they love him, humble towards the faithful, but mighty towards the unbelievers. They fight in the Way of Allah and do not fear anybody’s reproach. That is a favour from Allah which He confers on whomever He pleases. Allah is Munificent, All-Knowing.
The Example of Pharaoh
Apostasy i.e. abandoning your faith is a crime punishable by death; a gruesome death, based in part on what Allah said He would do to disbelievers in the Hereafter (revelation 88:24), and Pharaoh said He would do to his apostate magicians in the here-and-now when they professed their devotion to Allah after witnessing Moses' superior magic.
20:70 Then the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: “We believe [now] in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.”
20:71 He (Pharaoh) said: “Do you believe in him before I give you leave? It must be your chief who has taught you magic. I shall then cut your hands and feet on alternate sides, and I will crucify you upon the trunks of palm trees, and you will certainly know whose punishment is sterner and more lasting.”
Religious leaders in Afghanistan did not demand that Abdul Rahman – an Afghan man sentenced to death for converting to Catholicism – be crucified and dismembered, but still insisted that he be tortured before the death sentence was carried out as called for by their interpretation of Islamic law. In the face of public outcry, and pressure from the Vatican, Rahman was allowed to emigrate to Italy to escape his death sentence.
A Canadian imam said that apostates deserved to die because of the embarrassment they cause Allah by leaving his perfect religion.
Can you return to the faith to save your life? The Salmon Rushdie experience would indicate that this is not always possible. Rushdie, after being declared an apostate for writing The Satanic Verses, offered a public apology and re-affirmed his commitment to Islam, to no avail. Khomeini's death sentence still stands.
In an extraordinary series of revelations, Allah seeks to explain his views on apostates, first promising to forgive those who "disbelieved after they had believed" and "repent afterwards", revealed truth 3:89; then revealing the almost exact opposite, adding the qualifier about growing in disbelief, revealed truth 3:90.
First, He takes a hard line:
3:86 How will Allah guide a people who disbelieved after they had believed and bore witness that the Messenger is true, and after the clear proofs had come to them? Allah will not guide the unjust people.
3:87 The reward of those people shall be that the curse of Allah, the angels and mankind as a whole shall be upon them.
3:88 They will abide therein forever; their punishment shall not be lightened and they shall have no respite.
He then softens his stance:
3:89 Except for those who repent afterwards and mend their ways; for Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Then the hard line again:
3:90 Surely those who disbelieve after believing, and then grow in disbelief, their repentance shall not be accepted. Those are the ones who have gone astray!
3:91 As for those who disbelieve and die as unbelievers, the earth’s fill of gold will not be accepted from any of them, even if it is offered as ransom. For those, a painful punishment is reserved and they will have no supporters!
"Kill them wherever you find them"
Some modern Islamic scholars, according to Ibn Warraq author of Why I am not a Muslim and Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out, argue that “in the Koran the apostate is threatened with punishment only in the next world”.
Mr. Warraq disagrees with this interpretation, as do most traditional Islamic scholars. Three compelling reasons are revelation 4:89, revelation 88:22-23 and probably the most convincing argument that apostates must be killed in the here-and-now; a straightforward demand from God's greatest mouthpiece, the Prophet Muhammad, to murder them at the earliest opportunity.
If a Muslim discards his religion, kill him.
This saying came on the heels of Allah commanding the Prophet to "kill them wherever you find them", revelation 4:89, and revelation 88:22-23 demanding that His Messenger "dominate … him who turns away and disbelieves", a euphemism for killing them!
4:89 They wish that you disbelieve, as they have disbelieved, so that you will all be alike. Do not, then, take any companions from them, until they emigrate in the Way of Allah. Then should they turn back, seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and do not take from them any companion or supporter;
88:17 Will they, then, not consider the camels, how they were created?
88:18 And heaven, how it was raised up?
88:19 And the mountains, how they were hoisted?
88:20 And the earth, how it was levelled.
88:21 So, exhort, you are a mere exhorter;
88:22 You are not supposed to dominate them;
88:23 Except for him who turns away and disbelieves;
88:24 Then Allah will punish him in the most terrible way.
88:25 Indeed, unto Us is their return;
88:26 Then, upon Us rests their reckoning.
In war, deserters are usually executed to deter others from abandoning the fight. Islam, since the Prophet’s flight to Medina, year one in the Islamic calendar, has considered itself at war with the unbelievers until such a time as they have all submitted to the Will of Allah or have been killed or enslaved.
Allah and His Messenger’s demand that those who abandon the Faith, with the outcome of the war still undecided, may have to do with not weakening the war effort as desertions tend to do.
Allah did make at least two exceptions to His general rule of killing apostates “wherever you find them.”
4:90 Except for those who seek refuge with a people with whom you are bound by a compact, or come to you because their hearts forbid them to fight you or fight their own people. Had Allah wished, He would have made them dominate you; and then they would have certainly fought you. If, however, they leave you alone and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah allows you no way against them.
4:91 You shall find others who wish to be secure from you and secure from their own people; yet, whenever they are called back to sedition they plunge into it. If these do not keep away from you, nor offer you peace, nor hold their hands back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them. Those, we have given you clear authority over them.
16:106 He who disbelieves in Allah after He has believed, except him who is compelled, but his heart remains firm in belief (will be forgiven); but those whose hearts rejoice in disbelief shall incur Allah’s Wrath and a grievous punishment awaits them.
Apostates may not believe in the Hereafter, but the Hereafter will be waiting, but not in a good way.
16:109 There is no doubt that in the Hereafter they shall be the losers.
Telling Apostates and Believers Apart On Judgement Day>
On Judgement Day those who believed then disbelieved will be easily identifiable for their face will turn black.
3:106 On the Day when some faces will turn white and others will turn black. As to those whose faces turn black [it will be said]: “Did you disbelieve after you had believed? Then taste the punishment because you have disbelieved.”
As for those whose faces turn white, the next verse, a totally different outcome, which raises an interesting question: “Will the skin of the inhabitants of Paradise all be the same colour?”
3:107 But as for those whose faces turned white, they will dwell in Allah’s Mercy (Paradise) forever.
3:108 These are the Revelations of Allah. We recite them to you in truth, and Allah does not desire any injustice for mankind.
3:109 And to Allah belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and unto Him all matters shall be referred.
Whatever you do, don’t die as an unbeliever if you were previously a believer. Allah and His Messenger despise apostates more than they despise people who never believed in the first place, and that is one scary thought indeed.
3:102 O believers, fear Allah as He should be feared, and do not die except as Muslims.
Abraham's father was not an apostate, but an unbeliever, and he too, the Prophet informs us, will have his face blackened on Judgement Day, confirming, perhaps, that only white people will be allowed into Paradise.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "On the Day of Resurrection Abraham will meet his father Azar whose face will be dark and covered with dust …"