Written by Theresa Corbin
Recently, I was questioned about my position on the death penalty for the Muslim apostate. I am embarrassed to say that I had until recently blindly followed what I was told. And what I was told was that the Islamic scholars agree: the death penalty is prescribed for the apostate, that the apostate in an Islamic state is like the the one committing treason in a democracy.
Even though Islam had liberated me from taking the word of people as my religion, apparently, I continued to do so in some things.
As far as Islamic knowledge goes there are clear sources. Something unique to Islam. The Quran has never been altered, something we unfortunately cannot say about the Bible or the Torah. And the hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him-PBUH)) have been recorded and verified by authentic chains of narration. Something that has been lost for all other prophets.
And even with these sources available to me, I had neglected them. And took what the people said in their place.
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (Quran 2:170)
This is a slippery slope and a dangerous path to be on if this is the only place you look to for your religion. Because like doctors, scholars can make an incorrect diagnosis. While scholars deserve an immense amount of respect, they should not be followed without question. And sometimes we may need a second opinion.
Seeing the flaw in my logic for accepting this platitude of “the scholars agree on the punishment for the apostate” I began my own research and these are some of the reasons why I changed my position on the death penalty for the apostate: Read more