Tag Archives: Apostasy

Video: Ahmadi Persecution In Pakistan

How the murder of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, labelled as apostates by extreme clerics calling for their death, is why in UK we must oppose such justification for murder being preached here.

(Note video does show aftermath of a massacre – but the horror of ideas made real needs telling).

Yesterday I wrote how the Luton Islamic Centre published a paper stating those that leave Islam must be killed. This poisonous idea incites murder, and needs to be challenged. We cannot let fundamentalists lay a theocratic narrative to kill apostates, and only react when we start seeing ex Muslims being killed in the UK.

Ignoring fundamentalism does not make their indoctrination and dissemination of ideas disappear. If you really think challenging extremism is aimed at inciting violence against Muslims that says more about you than me.

Islamism and Anti-Muslim hate both need tackling

The fundamentalists are killing Muslims. These are crimes against humanity. The thinking behind apostasy punishment is to prevent freethought, a plurality of opinion. Individual conscience is suppressed by fear of death.

This needs counter speech. But more importantly, free speech cannot tolerate incitement to murder others for not conforming to another’s views.

I am not prepared to wait and see ex Muslims being killed in the UK, when we know what fundamentalists are capable of. Nor Muslims that stand up to fundamentalists being so either – as happens in Pakistan when challenging blasphemy laws for example.

The dangers are real, and we cannot ignore what is happening and what may yet come by saying nothing.

Thanks to Qasim Rashid for sharing video.

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“The Crime of abandoning Islam” – Will The UK Government Stop Incitement To Kill Apostates?

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Regular readers will recall the chairman of the Luton Islamic Centre stating in an ideal Islamic State homosexuals will be killed. I also wrote about Abdul Qadeer Baksh other views.

The Centre has got my attention again with its advice that apostates, those that leave the Islamic faith, must be killed. In a three page answer written by Jalal Abualrub on the question it argues that “no compulsion in religion” only applies to those that have never been muslim – not to apostates:

These are two completely different topics: forcing non-Muslims to embrace Islam vs. the punishment, carried out by the Islamic State, of those who were Muslim but committed the crime of abandoning Islam.

The punishment for the crime? They quote a Hadith:

“The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Messenger, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas (Law of Equity) for murder; a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse; and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”

The writer continues:

Should we also abandon the punishment for the adulterer, since ‘there is no compulsion in religion’? Should we also abandon other parts of the Islamic Penal code if the offense does not really harm others, such as abandoning Prayer, drinking, cursing the Prophet, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, etc., since ‘there is no compulsion in religion’? Who has any right to contradict the Prophet of Allah, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, who says, “He who reverts from his religion, then kill him”; [as- Silsilah as-Sahihah 487]? And those who contradict him, had they been alive during his time, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, would they have corrected the Prophet, who received the Quran, by reminding him that in Islam, which he brought from Allah, ‘there is no compulsion in religion’? Muslims should be strong and stand behind every part of their Law, if they seek Allah’s Help and Support that is.

Having established that the punishment for the “crime” of apostasy is death, the writer continues rather chilling to say no muslim can stand by and let them go unpunished:

if we leave the apostate un-punished he might go back to Islam, then what is stopping him from doing so before being killed, even if to become a hypocrite? What if he does not repent in the future and tempts others who have weak hearts and faith to follow him, should we stand idle while whole segments of the Muslim Society becomes non-Muslim?

Fundamentalism and literalism – someone said this and I must do it because it is my religion, no matter how blood thirsty, inhumane and cruel such an action would be. The incitement to kill those that leave a faith is in clear breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Let alone English Law.

Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, wants to get tough on extremism.

Here is your chance to act. Or do you want to see the body count of ex muslims stacking up on the streets of Britain before doing something that might tell the extremists their threats will not be allowed to stand?

My thanks to the Council of Ex-Muslims Forum for drawing attention and for the work they do. Please support them and ex Muslims.

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Abdul Qadir Jilani: anyone may kill apostates

Possibly overshadowed by the deportation of Abu Qatada, another person hit the headlines, one Abdul Qadir Jilani.

Mr Jilani, who is based in Walthamstow, east London, said in the offending [DM Digital] programme: “The matter of insulting the prophet does not fall in the category of terrorism.

“Those who cannot kill such men have no faith.

“It is your duty, the duty of those who recite the holy verse, to kill those who insult Prophet Mohammed.

“Under the guidance from Islamic texts it is evident that if a Muslim apostatises, then it is not right to wait for the authorised courts; anyone may kill him.

“An apostate deserves to be killed and any man may kill him.”[Daily Telegraph]

Incitement to kill, not just hatred. The public good threatened via our airwaves. A clear breach of free speech. So we can expect he is under arrest, not least as a clear signal that EU guidelines will be upheld on freedom of religion and belief.

Accept all that has so far happened is £105,000 fine of DM Digital by Ofcom.

Excuse me? Let me get this straight: a tweet joke about an airport being closed due to snow had better be sorted out or they will bomb it produces a court case, but someone that incites muslims to kill those that have left the Islamic faith is still at liberty in London.

Dr Malik the chief executive of DM Digital explains why even just the fine was going too far for him:

Dr Malik said that he was dissatisfied with Ofcom’s ruling because there were cultural differences that Ofcom does not understand. He said that the regulator’s adjudicating committee should have members picked from the Muslim community.[Source]

This is no defence – it is a clear breach of universal human rights that people may chose their own faith, and change it, without fear or coercion.

Home Secretary will you kindly now ask the Crown Prosecution Service to examine this with a view to prosecution. Uphold our human rights and treaty obligations not to have our ex Muslim citizens murdered for supposed cultural and religious reasons, or threatened with.

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May there never be compulsion in religion

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Religious freedom is truly one of the great ideas to be expressed by the enlightenment. Though we can trace those ideas to other thinkers before, it was this movement which went beyond speaking and acting as freethinkers to actually challenge orthodox organised religion’s monopoly on thought and explanation. Humanism, emboldened by empirical observation and reasoning beyond scriptures, came out of the shadows of being an act of religious reflection. Humanist thought became a way of understanding the world, morality, ourselves and the cosmos without strict adherence to the confines of the divine or preceding tradition. Natural philosophy, and the scientific method ushered in a new era.

Whilst this age of reason is one to celebrate, one of the challenges to the notion of religious freedom is the consequence of leaving a faith – being an apostate. Here I am trying to lay out the battle for the idea of where it comes from and means now in Islam. The reason this matters is quite simply the death penalty that exists, or the process of being excluded by family and other believers, if someone renounces the faith they grew up in. Let alone principles of free speech and freedom of expression which together with freedom of religion are classed as universal rights.

Apostasy matters now

As my good friends at the Council of Ex Muslims Britain Forum (CEMB) observe:

Countless individuals accused of apostasy and blasphemy face threats, imprisonment, and execution. Blasphemy laws in over 30 countries and apostasy laws in over 20 aim primarily to restrict thought, expression and the rights of Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims alike. [CEMB]

In my critique of Islam I mentioned concern that by cherry picking the Koran and Hadith it gave cover for Islamists to kill apostates. For example:

Qur’an (4:89) – “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”

Bukhari (52:260) – “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ ” Note that there is no distinction as to how that Muslim came to be a Muslim. [Ibid]

When discussing this with Sam Harris he made these observations:

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A modern retelling

In Abdul-Azim Ahmed’s article for the Rationalist Association, he explains why as a Muslim he fully supported the Apostasy project using Koranic quotes to justify:

“The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who desires believe and let him who desires disbelieve.” – 18:29

“If they accept Islam, then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, your duty is only to deliver the message.” –3:20

“And if your Lord had pleased, all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them. Will you then force people till they are believers?” – 10:99 [Rationalist Association]

It would be amiss of me not to point out that Ahmed stresses European Colonialism as having a theological impact on punishment for apostasy in response to machine guns and missionaries. Regrettably, death for apostasy existed way before the British Empire ever attempted to prevent the sun setting on it.

Yet sociological and political factors are playing a part. Acceptance of principles like pluralism and secularism mean challenging concepts such as apostasy. In the battle of ideas some modern theological thinkers are pointing out the subjective spin put on death for apostasy in the past, though often stating such a view is controversial to the point of putting a bullseye on your thinking cap even now.

As Usama Hassan mentions in a concept paper:

There is no explicit sanction in the Qur’an and Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad) for the criminalisation and punishment of blasphemy: in fact, the opposite is the case; the few scriptural texts that are misquoted in this regard all refer to wartime situations, and the harsh, mediaeval Islamic jurisprudence on blasphemy was developed centuries after the Prophet himself.[Quilliam Foundation]

The War of Apostasy, also known as Ridda Wars shortly after the death of Mohammed suggests that violence was sadly a means of preventing dissent which was considered a threat to cohesion let alone future territorial ambitions on Persia and beyond. Conquest existed way before modern European colonisation.

The title for this post will be familiar to those aware of The Koranic verse, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256). A critique of the context of that verse can be found on the CEMB forum site. That rather than a call for tolerance it is the manifest destiny that Islam is the faith for us to follow when quoted in full:

“There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”

Still that is a hallmark of a particular religion that it is the right way. The narrative given in the Quilliam Foundation concept paper: NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION: AN ISLAMIC CASE AGAINST BLASPHEMY LAWS is certainly an answer to Sam Harris’ earlier remarks.

It is the practise of political Islam by Islamists which concern all of the people mentioned above. Where we differ in belief we would uphold the values of pluralism, free speech and free expression. An inherent inalienable right we would agree is religious freedom. I am delighted to see that the Quilliam Foundation takes the radicalisation of people by some within Islam very seriously and looks to challenge that.

Maybe not in the next world

As mentioned in the past I wish we did not have to argue over interpretations of sacred texts but could move beyond them. That is not the world we live in. As such we will continue to debate and argue with each other over such things.

The bare minimum is that none should be put to death for the argument, and dissent from others beliefs should not just be tolerated but considered a cause for celebration in a pluralistic and free society.

Those who believe, those who follow the Jewish scriptures, and the Sabians, Christians, Magians, and Polytheists,- God will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for God is witness of all things. – Koran 22:17

I hope mothers and fathers can embrace their children no less just because they no longer follow their religion. It really is a matter of free thought and not a reflection on them. However, the fear of the next life is one that still grips people. Apostasy will still concern people even in a free society.

Perhaps until we are free of the fear of death freedom of religion will not be absolute in this life when people consider the stakes are eternity and the blessings of the Almighty are available even now if all follow His will.

My thanks to Sam Harris, CEMB, Maajid Nawaz, Usama Hasan, and the Rationalist Association UK (and Abdul-Azim Ahmed) for known or unknown assistance in writing the above article (which is written by me and not necessarily endorsed by the above) and to @yakuza72 for passing on the cartoon.

Please support the Apostasy Project

My Apostasy Story

Update 18/6/2013: Tribune article on blasphemy in Pakistan

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Audio: Hitchens on Metaphysics and my conversation about

Christopher Hitchens reading from “God is Not Great” his chapter on metaphysics.

    Part One:
    Part Two:

My post on the pope and original sin led to an interesting conversation between myself and Rory Fenton, whose apostate story on leaving Catholicism can be read here.

The view on original sin of Jehovah’s Witnesses (with whom I studied with as a child into adolescence) is very similar to Catholicism. Good works are not enough, Christ needed to die to redeem mankind.

Where we did differ was whether metaphysical claims should bother atheists with the olive branch by the pope. A robust but good natured debate followed, and our differences could in large part be based on how our respective religions view apostates. Providing Rory leads a good life, and does not become a satanist his actions (not belief) would be enough for salvation and Catholics would judge him on his works. On the other hand my knowing the truth and rejecting makes me an apostate in the literal biblical sense – no Jehovah’s Witness can talk to me, and demons may make use of me to make others fall away from the faith. As Rory rightly says, I’m fucked.

The apostasy project is not just about helping those with doubts about their religion have a non judgemental place to discuss their feelings to leave their faith – it also helps to explain the nature of what apostasy means for different people.

John:
Why the pope saying atheists are redeemed from original sin is actually offensive to us [blog post]

Rory:
I don’t get your argument. Seems to say “yeah he said something nice but he’s still catholic so it doesn’t count” What do you mean?

John:
1. we would be wretched things to want original sin to be true
2. The idea of a birth by a virgin without man’s seed is a “purity” I can do without
3. Baptism to get God’s grace is something I can do without, especially regarding being a moral person
4. Original sin is based on an “un-biological tortured zombie fairy story, helped by holy water taken externally.
So no not saying it was nice – it’s not- and it’s invalid not because pope is catholic but because it’s an insult to rationality.

Rory:
Yes but those are arguments against Catholicism, not that when the pope says we can be genuinely good people its a bad thing. Surely it’s extending a hand [of] friendship and humility?

John:
I quote the bit the pope says regarding original sin – not that atheists should be allowed to do good as Catholics do. The concept of original sin to us is not an extension of friendship – it means we need the divine. That we are base, immoral.

Original sin means we accept we need a perfect divine, if you will man born without seamen of a virgin to die for us to be saved. And you really want to say “that’s a nice gesture that in no way insults my morals or intelligence”? That would be my point.

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Photo above from here as an example where good works not enough, accepting Christ (and doctrine of original sin) is essential for salvation.

Rory:
It is indeed a nice feature that in no real way insults my morals or intelligence. Beyond the metaphysics the pope is saying “hey, Catholics and atheists can meaningfully work together to make the world nicer”.

John:
You mean work [together] on women’s rights, contraception, homosexuality, safeguarding children, removing guilt, faith schools, blasphemy?

Rory:
Now *those* are practical beliefs where I’ll happily take to arms with you.
I don’t really see the point in getting hung up on metaphysical beliefs. What matters are practical beliefs, how we live.

John:
it is for meta-physical beliefs people think born in sin, need Jesus’ death and resurrection and will not leave their faith for hell.

Rory:
I left Catholicism myself and no one said I would go to hell, since that isn’t a catholic belief. Good people go to heaven, bad people (a very small number) to hell. Belief is not the deciding factor.

John
“only ex-Catholics who will assuredly face judgement for their apostasy are those who know their faith and grasp the truth of it” [Source] We are apostates my friend, and we are dammed. Accept my hell is non existence as a JW 😉

Rory
Ah that means people who believed in God but CHOSE to go against him, eg a Catholic who turned satanist, not a sincere atheist (I guess it’s like the distinction between a conscientious objector and a coward, one sincere rebellion, the other flawed). But yes, as an ex JW, you’re fucked.

John:
if there is a celestial court I think we both will need damn good lawyers ….

Rory:
Ha let’s just hope whoever the god is takes bribes…

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