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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.