Leaving Islam




How Islam Treats the Dead

By Isaac Schrödinger


The act of leaving Islam is called ridda. The one who does so is called a murtad. Let's take a look at three inter-connected Islamic institutions that systematically unravel the life of a murtad.

1. Family and Friends

Muslim families are very tightly knit. For example, more than half of all British Pakistanis marry their first cousins. The story is the same with Arabs who more often than not marry within the clan. In such honor-based cultures, any un-Islamic behavior of a person brings shame upon the entire family.

An apostasy -- the ultimate dishonorable action -- would definitely cause a meltdown in a Muslim household. Most likely, the disgraced siblings of the apostate would no longer be able to marry in the family; the parents would disown "the infidel"; friends wouldn't want to be seen with such a heinous creature, and some might even report the murtad to the local imam or the state. Since nepotism is rampant in clans, a murtad would no doubt lose all his/her favorable connections with the family.

Thus, the entire inner circle of a murtad would crumble. A Muslim only has worth as long as he/she remains a Muslim.

For small "dishonorable" activities, such as a Muslim woman studying with males or working with them, dating males, refusing to wear the burqa in public, the punishment has sometimes been death. Muslim families quietly and quickly enforce these unwritten laws. The punishment by Jordan for such honor killings has been on occasion only six months. The fate of a murtad with these families would be no different.

2. Society and State

It is quite rare to find Muslims in Islamic countries who knowingly hire people of other sects or religions. For example, in Pakistan the law treats Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Ahmadis don't believe that Mohammad is the final Prophet. All their other beliefs and practices are the same as regular Muslims.

However, the Pakistani society treats them with contempt. The Ahmadis can't call their areas of worship "mosques". They're openly discriminated against in schools and jobs, only because their belief in one tiny matter is different from mainstream Muslims.

Imagine what such a society does to those who reject Islam in its entirety. No-one in the society dares associate with an apostate. The job of the apostate vanishes. If the apostate is married, then a divorce with the Muslim spouse is automatic. Any kids in the relationship go to the Muslim spouse. At every turn the apostate is asked for his/her religion. For example, applications for a national ID or a passport require everyone to classify their religion in Pakistan.

Here's how Egypt, another Islamic state, deals with murtads:

While there are, as yet, no laws against apostasy from Islam, the missionary or the convert may be convicted on other charges, for example "threatening social peace and intercommunal relations". There is, however, a Supreme Court ruling that a Moslem who apostacises is legally dead. He loses all rights and powers. He cannot withdraw funds from his accounts. Any person who kills him does not commit murder from a legal point of view because he is already legally dead. The "dead" person cannot marry or inherit. Nor is it possible for an apostate to have his identity card changed to "Christian". More than one hundred and fifty Muslims who have adopted Christianity have been detained in maximum-security prisons. They have been accused of threatening national unity.

One example from a Coptic press release, concerned the case of Dr. Abdul-Rahman who has been held in Cairo without trial for two years for breaking with Islam. He is in solitary confinement but his will has not been broken. He is undoubtedly being used as a warning to anyone else contemplating apostasy.

[Emphasis mine]

A recent story from Iran:

An Iranian convert to Christianity was kidnapped last week from his home in northeastern Iran and stabbed to death, his bleeding body thrown in front of his home a few hours later.


He is the fifth Protestant pastor assassinated in Iran by unidentified killers in the past 11 years. Three of the five were former Muslims, under Iranian law subject to the death penalty for having committed apostasy.

Even though certain Islamic states don't have laws on apostasy, they still go ahead with the punishment of death by hanging or beheading. Ibn Warraq:

The absence of any mention of apostasy in some penal codes of Islamic countries, of course, in no way implies that a Muslim in the country concerned is free to leave his religion. In reality, the lacunae in the penal codes are filled by Islamic law. Mahmud Mahammad Taha was hanged for apostasy in Sudan in 1985, even though the Sudanese Penal Code of 1983 did not mention such a crime.

At last, we come to the heart of the matter.

3. The Quran, Hadith and Sharia

Quran 4:89

They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.


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