Monday, 16 August 2010

Apostasy in Islam

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The Qur’an Itself Promises us that there is no compulsion on religion:


Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Truth stands out clear from Error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks.  And Allah Heareth and Knoweth all things.  (Surah al-Baqarah:256)

Since we are not compelled to believe and convert, we are also not compelled to stay if that belief is inadequate since faith Belongs to Allah (s.w.t.).  The Punishment for disbelief is the Province of Allah (s.w.t.) Alone.  We cannot judge on belief for the simple reason that we do not know the hearts of men and their intentions.  Neither can we judge the circumstances of faith or apparent lack of it.  This is the only verse that Mentions the Punishment for apostasy in Islam, and it is by Allah (s.w.t.) Alone.


Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief - except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to unbelief - on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.  This because they love the life of this world better than the Hereafter: and Allah will not guide those who reject Faith.  Those are they whose hearts, ears, and eyes, Allah has Sealed Up and they take no heed.  Without doubt, in the Hereafter, they will perish.  (Surah an-Nahl:106-109)

In any case, how do we even know if we have faith?  Faith is from Allah (s.w.t.).  It is His Capacity.  It is not our capacity.


The desert Arabs, say, “We believe.”  Say, “Ye have no faith; but ye (only) say, ‘We have submitted our wills to Allah,’ for not yet has faith entered your hearts.  But if ye obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught oft your deeds: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”  (Surah al-Hujraat:14)

Firstly, it is important to define what constitutes apostasy in Islam.  A person commits apostasy, irtidad, or becomes an apostate, murtad, if he acknowledges himself a Muslim and then at a later time takes one of the following actions: converts to another religion; rejects a part of the Qur’an after recognising it to be a part of the Qur’an; disbelieves or deviates from any of the core tenets of the faith and practices; or ascribes divinity to anything other than Allah (s.w.t.).  In the practise of any of the above, even should a person still call himself a Muslim, he has deviated from the faith until he repents.

Having an interpretation of a part of the Qur’an or ahadits different from the one held by other Muslims does not result in apostasy.  There is room for differences of opinion in the interpretation of verses of the Qur’an and the hadits.  But should a person hold for example that there is an error in the Qur’an or rejects any of it in totality, he has left the faith.  Similarly, to argue as to the admissibility or relevance of ahadits in various rulings is acceptable although it might be bad adab if there is a lack of knowledge.  But if a person rejects the concept of ahadits in totality, he has left the faith since it is the second source of shari’ah.  There are people who claim they are Muslims but are against the shari’ah or argue for the reformation of the Qur’an and the shari’ah.  They are technically apostates.

There are many verses that speak about how hateful it is in the Sight of Allah (s.w.t.).  But none speak about the punishment under hudud.  This is significant since the vast majority of these verses are from the Madinan Period, when the fledgling Islamic State was already established.  The mandate of Punishment lies with Allah (s.w.t.).  Revelations during the Madinan Period consisted largely of laws to govern an Islamic State.  To them were Revealed the penalties for crimes such as theft and murder; the resolution of legal disputes and the administration and division of property.  But nothing about the penalty for apostasy.  From the sirah, we know that there were several incidences of apostasy but there was no Revelation explicitly dealing with punishment for it.  What is significant is that there was Revelation concerning the waging of war against the ummah.  This was normally preceded by apostasy on the part of some of the protagonists and the reneging of treaties.

The punishment for apostasy is a serious issue.  If Allah (s.w.t.) Meant for it to be death, it would be part of the hudud and be in the Qur’an.  It would not be something that Allah (s.w.t.), in His Wisdom, would leave for ahadits.  In any case, from a logical point of view, if the penalty of apostasy were explicitly death, Muslims would have killed each other off a long time ago due to every little disagreement.  As it is, extremists are already using takfir as an excuse to kill their fellow Muslims.  A lot of people with vested interests or simply an intense dislike of the faith or of Muslims makes much about hadits that deal with apostasy.  Ahadits are not automatically ahkam, rulings, to be read literally without understanding their context. 


35 comments:

  1. Greetings,
    Is there any way that i can contact you through email? I am not able to do that via your profile page as i do not have an email client program. I have some questions to ask you on apostasy and conversion.
    Many thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Assalamu'Alaikum,

    My email address: terence.nunis@gmail.com

    And yes, that is my name.

    Wassalam

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is it possible for someone to convert out of Islam in Singapore even though he is not a resident of Singapore? Would like to know the minimum requirements for a foreigner to convert in SG before the formal procedures could be performed. Thanks a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  4. could you tell us where to go convert out of islam in singapore.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Apologies for the late replies. With regards to both above:

    A foreigner need not convert out of Islam in Singapore unless he converted in Singapore simply because he would not come under the auspices of the Administration of Muslim Law Act. If he has decided to leave the religion, it is a matter of intention and according to Shari'ah, he is no longer a Muslim,

    A person who wishes to formalise the apostasy in Singapore simply needs to get a statutory declaration done by any lawyer stating that he is no longer a Muslim and the change of religion. He/she then needs to go down to MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), and proceed to the counter stating the desire to apostatize.

    A form needs to be filled up and the person is legally no longer a Muslim and is not in the MUIS database (if he was previously).

    Regards

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Terence,

    Thank you very much for your reply! You have answered my question. Appreciate it =)

    ReplyDelete
  7. hi,my fiiance is converted to islam, for the nikah in mosque, they need a statutory declaration from a lawyer,could you please send me a format

    ReplyDelete
  8. Assalamu'Alaykum,

    If your fiance converted in Singapore, he would have a conversion card. There will be no issues.

    If he converted to overseas and the nikah is in Singapore, simply go to any lawyer for the statutory declaration. The charges may vary. They will have a standard template for this.

    If overseas, you will have to refer to someone in a better position to answer this.

    Wassalam

    ReplyDelete
  9. salams,

    jus out of curiosity, any latest stats available for current number of conversions in and out of islam according to age groups rather than race?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Assalau'Alaykum,

    We have very comprehensive statistics on conversions and apostasy broken down according to demographics, religious affiliation and reasons amongst other things. They are confidential and not revealed to the public.

    Only certain pesons in MUIS and Darul Arqam who directly handle apostasy and conversion issues have access to them and we are not allowed to reveal the numbers. Nevertheless, official apostasy is less than 2% of conversions on average.

    Wassalam

    ReplyDelete
  11. In the Statutory Declaration form to renounce Islam, are there any acts that should be stated in it? Or will a simple sentence like "I am no longer a Muslim" suffice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A simple declaration will suffice. You still need to take the SD to MUIS and fill up a form to complete the process.

      Delete
  12. Good day, thank you for providing so much valuable advice and information!

    You mentioned that a Muslim converting out of Islam will need a Statutory Declaration before proceeding to MUIS. Can I clarify, does this refer only to foreigners? Can a Singaporean Muslim proceed to MUIS without a Statutory Declaration?

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good Evening,

      A Singaporean would also need a statutory declaration. It is quite likely they would refer said person for counselling to determine the reasons for leaving Islam. If the Muslim is a convert, the referral would be to the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore.

      Regards

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the reply!

      I've asked a few law firms and it seems that it is much cheaper to come up with a statutory declaration myself and getting the lawyer to commission it (rather than asking the law firm to draft it).

      May I know if there is any template for such a document (online) that I can base my statutory declaration on? Thank you for your help!

      Delete
    3. Good Afternoon,

      Not that I know of. Simply state your name, identity card or passport number and date. Declare what you wish. Thereafter get it notarised.

      Example: I, Elvis Presley, I/C or P/P ___________, as of 13th February 2013, hereby declare monkeys are from Mars.

      Or perhaps some variation of it.

      Regards

      Delete
  13. Thank you so much for your help!

    ReplyDelete
  14. hi,,,I really need some guidance here,,,,I'm from Malaysia,,stil a student,,,my mum is a Chinese convert as my dad is a Muslim,,,but I was raise more of the western way,,,i had a gf that doesn't want to convert into Muslim,,so I thought of converting out of Muslim,,n the only way I thought of is to go into singapore n convert there,,,can u briefly explain what should I do n go through to be able to do it??,,thanx,,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. as-Salaamu'Alaykum,

      There are several issues here. Insha'Allah, I'll try and kep it succinct.

      1. Malaysia does not recognise apostasy. This is a constitutional issue. Therefore, your apostasy in Malaysia or overseas will not be valid according to Malaysian law.

      2. Muslims in Singapore, whether citizen or resident, are covered under the Administration of Muslim Law Act. As a non-citizen and a non-resident, you will not be covered under it. Hence there is no requirement for the legal process of apostasy.

      3. Personally, I do not think it is wise to change your belief system for anyone, regardless of whether you be Muslim or not, male or female. What religion or ideology we hold has to be durable and consistent. Those are our values. They may evolve but they should never be discarded for anything that is transient.

      Perhaps I am overstepping the boundaries and I apologise if so, but there is a vast difference between Islam and Islam as practiced by the average Malaysian. Over there, it has become politicised and we have Muslim politicians spouting nonsense, extremist position for the sake of votes. The entire concept of Keutamaan Melayu is contrary to Islam. Do spend time to read the other articles on this blog and find the real value of Islam. I wish you the best on your journey of faith.

      Wa as-Salaam

      Delete
    2. thanx for ur reply my fren,,,it helps a lot,,,I'm not a racist kind of person,,so I'm open to any info n sugestion,,,I wouldn't feel that u went over or anything,,dun worry,,,,my name is irwan though,,,I would like to ask a few more question if u please,,,u said if I'm not a resident in singapore then I couldn't convert n be covered under the muslim organization there,,so if I manage to get a pr there,,,would it be lo single for me to do what I intend to do there??,,

      Delete
    3. as-Salaamu'Alaykum,

      It is not easy to get a PR in Singapore at the moment. In any case, that is a lot of effort to get a PR simply to formally apostatise. It is not practical.

      Considering you are in Malaysia, why would you go through all that effort to formally leave Islam? If you do not have any faith in it, and choose another doctrine, that is a deeply personal choice. You can always undergo a civil marriage of sorts.

      Wa as-Salaam

      Delete
    4. I know it's quite hard to get pr now,,,I'm anning to do this in the next few years,,,what ate the requirements to get a pr there???,,,,I personally believe in Allah,,but I dun follow the things all Muslims do here,,,coz some of them are not even in the alquran,,most of then are slightly altered through the process of teaching,,,I believe in the goods to be done,,,I do what's right n what's morally accepted,,,but this can't allow me to get my gf family to accept me coz what they see is attributes not my attitude as they haven't get a chance to know me,,,if they could only know what I would do to be with their daughter they would be touch too,,,so I hav to do something which firstly can be accepted by them which is I have to be similar to them in sense of religion on paper,,,coz if people dun know me they would surely think I'm fully Chinese n no doubt about that as I'm culturally brought up like a Chinese,,,so I really hope there is a way that I can change myself to make them accept me,,,thanx bro,,:),,

      Delete
    5. as-Salaamu'Alaykum,

      Islam is the greatest Gift that Allah (s.w.t.) Gives. But like any gift, its worth is unrealised if one does not understand its value. You sound very young. Perhaps some day, insha'Allah, you will understand. I would never sell my faith, for any woman or anything of this world. Shaykh ibn 'Arabi ad-Darqawi (q.s.) once said, "All that you lose in this world can be replaced with something better, but lose Allah and all Creation cannot replace Him." It is your choice.

      Wa as-Salaam

      Delete
    6. well,,,I know it might not be a great choice,,,but she is too important n special too me n I wanna live my whole life with her too,,,perhaps time will tell,,,thanx a lot,,,I hope that my heart could allow me to forget her so that I won't need to do any of that,,,thanx again my fren,,,

      Delete
  15. hi, i'm amanda here.. may i ask, if my mum converts and married to a malay guy. it is not compulsory for me to convert at all right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good Morning Amanda,

      No. It is not compulsory for you to convert.

      Regards,

      Delete
  16. hi halequin, so is there any way that i could convert out of islam? please advice me.. i'm in a total lost now..

    awaiting for your reply. thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good morning,

      If you are in Singapore, you have to make a statutory declaration and then go to MUIS or the Muslim Converts' Association. They will send you for counselling. You will have to fill up some forms.

      Regards,

      Delete
  17. statutory declaration means i got to find a lawyer? will making that SD cost a bomb? the Muslim Converts, Association is the one at haig road right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good Morning,

      1. Not necessarily. If you know how to do it, you can write your own. If not, find a lawyer.

      2. No.

      3. Yes. Onan Road, actually.

      Regards

      Delete
  18. can i just make my way down to the Muslim Converts' Association without having the SD? omg.. i need so much guidance on this..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would suggest you send me and email or message me on Facebook. There are way too many questions.

      terence.nunis@gmail.com or Terence Helikaon Nunis

      Delete
  19. ok.sure.. yes, i know.i've too many questions on this.sorry to trouble you.will add you up soon. thank you for your help!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. If I officially renounce Islam in Singapore, how likely would I be prosecuted (or even sentenced to death) if I were to travel to another Islamic country, such as Brunei and Sudan, where apostasy is criminalized and punishable by death? Would I encounter any problem when entering or traveling in more secular Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia? Is there any law in Singapore that prohibits MUIS from disclosing a list of apostates to guarantee confidentiality?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MUIS does not keep a list of apostates. And there is no religion on our travel documents.

      Brunei's laws criminalise apostasy for their citizens. It does not have jurisdiction retroactively on foreign citizens. Likewise, as you said, Malaysia and Indonesia are secular.

      Delete

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