Fatwa ID: 1486
Title: The Shari`ah ruling on Apostasy (Reddah)
Categories: Basic Tenets of Faith (Belief)
Scholar: Dr. Hatem al-Haj
Date: 04/17/2006

Question

In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you.

In connection to the questions that come to the Islamic centers these days, please, kindly explain in detail how to answer such questions about the Shari`ah ruling concerning the apostate and his/her punishment? Jazakumu Allahu Khairan.


Answer

In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you.

Praise be to Allah, prayers and peace be upon His kind Messenger, family members, companions, and true followers until the Day of Judgment.

I would recommend you begin answering them 

by pointing out that these matters are only judged by the judiciary systems in the Islamic countries only, and not by the individuals, and then you tell them that the courts handle such cases and decide upon them according to many details and considerations. As for the traditional Shari`ah ruling, it is the punishment of killing for the man according to the Four imams, and the same with the woman according to the majority, while she is jailed with Al-Hanafiyyah scholars. This is based on the following hadiths reported from the prophet: "Whoever a Muslim changes his/her religion, kill him/her", and "A Muslim`s blood, who testifies that there is no god except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, is not made permissible except by three reasons: the life for the life; the married adulterer and the that who abandons his/her religion".

This ruling was not first introduced by Islam; it is the same in the Shari`ah of Moses – peace of Allah be upon him. It is stated in Deuteronomy, 13/6-16: "6- And if your brother the son of your mother or your son or your daughter or the woman of your lap or your friend who represented yourself, has lured you by saying we go and worship other gods which you nor your fathers knew. 7- from the gods of the people around you, near or far from you, from the end of the Earth to its other end. 8- Do not be content with him or listen to him and do not let your eye pity him and obey him or cover him up. 9- But kill him by your hands first then by all the hands of the people at last. 10- Stone him until he dies because he tried to take you away from the God your Lord Who took you out of the Land of Egypt from the House of Slavery. 11- Then all the Israelis listen and be scared and they will never do such an evil deed in your vicinity. 12- If you hear about one of your cities that God your Lord gives them to you to live in, a saying. 13- That some wicked people from your vicinity had exposed to peril the dwellers of their city by saying we go and worship other gods that you do not know. 14- And you examined and searched and enquired perfectly well and the matter is right and sure that he has done that sin in your vicinity. 15- Then, hitting! You hit the dwellers of that city by the edge of the sword and deprive them all from their animals with the edge of the sword. 16- You bring together all their things into the middle of its forum and with fire you burn the city and all its things completely for God your Lord that it becomes a hill forever that will never be built again". 

And it is known that those who worshipped the Calf were ordered to kill themselves. This issue needs in its exposition for non-Muslims both wisdom and honesty. 

May Allah make success and prosperity your permanent partner. Allah knows best.    

P.S.: For this author’s view on the contemporary application of this ruling, please read his paper on the issue, which was endorsed by AMJA here:

http://www.amjaonline.org/en/our-services/academic-research/doc_download/127-punishmet-for-apostasy-dr-hatem-elhaj