I've ran across some former Muslims that say that the punishment for Apostasy in not death. They have claimed that the Qu'ran never suggests the death penalty for those that leave the Islamic faith. I tried to corner one of them to get a reason why they say this. I gave some examples and why I reject the notion, but I didn't get a refutation. I'm happy to hear it, I simply don'e know except for what I can read on my own. So if anyone can tell me why this is wrong, please do so.

My reading:

"But if they turn renegades seize them and slay them wherever you find them” Chapter 4 Verse 89
In Hadiths spoken by Mohammed, "If somebody discards his religion, kill him.’” Volume 4, Book 52, Number 260 Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’” Vol. 9, Book 84, Number 57

Historically it's noted that in the time of Mohammed thousands were killed for leaving Islam. If this wasn't what he wanted, why did he not correct the behavior?

This is a wiki quote under the Execution section. "some jurists, scholars and writers of other Islamic sects, have argued or issued fatwas that either the changing of religion is not punishable or is only punishable under restricted circumstances, but these minority opinions have not found broad acceptance among the majority of Islamic scholars"

It seems pretty clear to me, but what am I not understanding?

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Is your argument that you know Muslims whom don't punish for apostasy, therefore punishment for apostasy is not a part of the religion? 

I think of my sisters and step-father whom claim to be Christians. I don't recall my sister going to church since she was 12. She's 41 now. None of them openly pray. They all drink. had (or have) Premarital sex, do nothing for charity, have never read the Bible. Does this mean that Christians don't go to church, they like a few beverages from time to time, rub genitals with anyone that they want, never give to charity, and never read the Bible. There is no reason to see what the text says, because I have three examples.

Islam is nothing if not a living religion. There are somewhere near 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. There are 21 countries whom practice Sharia in a form where an Apostate's life would be in danger for Apostasy. Not talking about it would be irresponsible. Acting as if people aren't dying over this issue at risk of offending someone is simply being polite to the people of a religion whom are indirectly bolstering a religion that is killing people. If they are worth respecting, they would be standing next to you calling out a barbaric practice. 

The question is simple, why do "progressive" Muslims disagree with the actions and the words of Mohammed, and certain verses of the Qu'ran. 

Personal beliefs have little to do with what is actually being written on the page. Certainly personal beliefs may lead you to reject a claim and search for a tenable reason why your moral leader prescribes the death of an apostate or someone whom has talked back to their parents, but it does not negate what is said in clear agreeable terms.

The concept that words are meaningless would lead me to the question of how would you ever read a book or be exposed to a new idea and accept it as true if that were the case? How do you know that you agree with the author that you now believe you agree with if the words have different meanings to him/her? You could never know because it turns into the question of, is everyone seeing the same color as me?

We seek judges that are impartial in just about every other aspect of life, yet it would seem that you prefer to seek the opinion of those with a reason to be swayed one way or the other. If it's more correct to say that you don't care about that opinion, how would you address their opinion and change an attitude without understanding what it is that you seek to change? If your argument would be that it's wrong and their's is that God said it's good, you'll simply find an impasse.

"I'd say that anyone claiming that any scripture 'says' "the penalty for apostasy is death" is stretching interpretation to an implausible level."


Hmm... interesting, especially since you just said:


"We don't really know for certain what anybody means when we read their words.  We must remain sceptical of our own powers of interpretation at all times.  I think it is right to say you can never know."


I disagree that you can "never know," but this kind of radical skepticism is why Sam Harris uses qualifiers like "To the extent that we can know anything, we know that..."  In any case, using your reasoning you could just as easily have said something like this:


I'd say that anyone claiming that any scripture 'says' "the penalty for apostasy is NOT "death" is stretching interpretation to an implausible level.


Why would you spend all of this time proclaiming that religions are not monolithic then tell us that we should be?

I am an atheist. I don't read anything into dead scripture which is hundreds of years old.

You don't read into the dead scriptures, but many people do & live their lives according to whats written in them. So it is very relevant to discuss whats written in those dead scriptures.

Ideas can only exist in the minds of living people.  When we read any text we must invent ideas to attach to it.

That is just ridiculous. You don't invent ideas, the ideas that the writer wanted to convey are passed onto to you through whats written. It may happen that you misinterpret the writers idea either because of your own fault or because the writing is vague/contradictory. But the intention(most of the times) is to convey ideas through the writing.

It is popular among atheists to invent the idea that islam says the penalty for apostasy is death.

What is written is written. Unless you say that islam is not governed by the hadith then you cannot say that islam doesn't say the penalty of apostasy in islam is death. According to the hadith, the penalty for apostasy is death. Whether some or even most muslims choose to follow this or not is irrelevant - it is there in the religion & it takes place even today.

I live in a town where at least 4% of the population are muslims, and in all the years I have been here, nobody has been killed for apostasy. If killing people for apostasy is a characteristic of islam in some places, it is not here, and is not therefore a consistent component of islam.

That is a fallacious statement. It would be more accurate that it is not a consistently practiced component of islam.
If there is a country that has no laws against murder, instead it allows people to settle their disputes by killing each other. But if most of its citizens don't kill each other over disputes, instead they use reason to settle their disputes, it would be wrong to say that the country isn't a murder friendly country just because a majority of the people don't exercise their right to kill each other.

The penalty for apostasy is death according to the Abrahamic books. A similar passage can be found in Deut 13:6-11 but you would be hard pressed to find a Christian or Jew who said the punishment for Apostasy or attempted conversion in Christianity or Judaism is (or ever was) death.


In some Islamic countries, this is still followed. But like most modern Christians and Jews, it seems few Muslims outside of Islamic countries are even aware of passages like these in their holy book. If they are aware, they choose to ignore it and cherry pick the less violent passages just like the majority of other Abrahamic followers.

Punishment for perceived criminal acts resides within the realm of law. Within law, jurisprudence reigns supreme. Presumably, you are a non-legal scholar American who believes laws are interpreted since you are used to common law.

Sharia law is the exact opposite of US law and much more similar to European (civil) law. In civil law, laws are not interpreted, they are applied. The law which is applied is the most recent one.

In the extreme, an unconstitutional law is therefore valid because it is newer than the constitution, and the constitution is yielded. In Sharia law, read backwards, find the passage which deals with punishment for heresy, and apply it. Ignore every other sura that deals with the subject.

(Side note: A redeeming feature of Sharia law is that it closely resembles Germanic law when it comes to contracting. Your signature means nothing and verbal agreements are enforceable through courts.)

Whether societies choose to base their laws on passages from holy books vary throughout time from place to place, depending on how religious the societies are when the laws are created and or changed.


But my comment wasn't about interpretation of law, common law, Sharia law, or even what I "believe" about law. I was simply pointing out what the Qu'ran and the Bible actually say about apostasy. They are pretty clear and more similar than not. Most people don't realize this.



My apologies if I came off as attacking you - it was not my intention.

You seem to be familiar with scripture, and I was hoping you could enlighten me as to the last thing the Bible or the Koran says about the punishment for apostasy as (legally speaking) this would be the only real valid religious opinion.

Btw, if you have ever met a legal scholar, then you'll immediately know being called a non-legal scholar is a compliment. ;)

The Koran says many contradictory things, amongst other the punishment for apostasy. But like civil law, the jurisprudence is set with latest legislation on the subject. If I have understood it correctly, the Koran becomes ever more violent, thus the Sharia punishment would be death - "It is unanimously agreed upon that apostasy is a horrible crime deserving a horrible punishment."

Legal precedence:

As soon as the condition of the heretic has been determined, he must be killed, without having the opportunity to repent. He qualifies as a heretic (al-zindiq) who poses as a Muslim and resides in the Muslim community, yet who is secretly an unbeliever or atheist. During the time of the Prophet and his Companions -- the peace of Allah be upon them all! -- such a one was called a "hypocrite" (munafiq), and his death was unavoidable, even if he repented. In such a case (if he repented) he was to be killed, not as an unbeliever, but as a penalty for his misdeed. Thus he was acknowledged to have been a Muslim; his corpse was ritually washed, wrapped and buried in an Islamic cemetery, so that the whole matter could be decided by Allah.

I am an ex muslim and the koran clearly states in different verses that the punishment for apostasy is death !! sorry  for not mentioning the exact verses because I cannot easilly locate them on the koran ....   some countries don't force this on their citizen , instead they send them to jail  which is the case in my country !!



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