The death sentence given to Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran is an affront to universal moral values and a disservice to Muslims
Analysis of readers comments on the above Guardian Cif post by Mehdi Hasan 30 September 2011 – See full post here
Mr Hasan argues that execution for aposatasy is unIslamic saying, amongst other things: “…. the silence from the world’s Muslims – especially the UK’s usually voluble Muslim organisations and self-appointed “community leaders” – has been shameful. The irony is that I have yet to come across an ordinary Muslim who agrees that a fellow believer who loses, changes or abandons his or her faith should be hanged. Yet frustratingly few Muslims are willing to speak out against such medieval barbarism. We mumble excuses, avert our eyes.
…. There is a misguided assumption among many Muslims that such an abhorrent punishment is divinely mandated. It isn’t. Classical Muslim jurists wrongly conflated apostasy with treason. The historical fact is that the prophet Muhammad never had anyone executed for apostasy alone.
…. Muslims have to ask ourselves: Is the God we worship so weak and needy that he requires us to force our fellow humans to worship him? Is our religion so frail and insecure that it cannot tolerate any rejection whatsoever? And why are we silent as an innocent Christian is sentenced to death in the name of Islam? To hang a man for refusing to believe in Islam is theologically and morally unjustifiable; it is not just unIslamic but anti-Islamic.
His article received 495 comments. The response to Mr Hasan as measured by these comments and the votes readers give to them is overwhelmingly critical. He can convince hardly anyone that his benign version of Islam is real. The brutality of Islam is there for all to see in Islam’s holy texts and practice past and present.
|Analysis of first 100 comments|
|Type of comment||Votes||%|
|Highly critical of Mr Hasan||7770||83|
|Supportive of Mr Hasan||842||9|
BigNowitzki – 492 votes
Simple fact is, the Hadiths (which the majority of Muslims follow) do prescribe death for apostasy.
…. Muslims have a much more literal reading of the Koran and the Hadiths than say most Christians. Much of Christianity moved away from a literal reading of these texts in the last few centuries.
…. I fear that the conditions in Islamic countries won’t change that much until a fundamental switch away from literalism takes place. It might be a while yet, but the internet will speed up the process.
Arapas – 602
[Medhi Hasan said][Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Islam’s holy book in the famous verse: ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’]
I am sorry to say that the statement is totally untrue and misleading. There is no such luxury in Islam.
MrGreyhame – 501
That’s the problem with any holy book though isn’t it? It can be interpreted a hundred different ways because it’s based on nonsense.
You say the death penalty for apostasy is unjustifiable in Islam, and quote some of the Qur’an and Islamic leaders, whilst others justify it through other sections and other Islamic leaders.
Phud – 206
[MH said][Muslims have to ask ourselves: Is the God we worship so weak and needy that he requires us to force our fellow humans to worship him? Is our religion so frail and insecure that it cannot tolerate any rejection whatsoever?]
The answer is yes to this question is undoubtedly yes, or the extremists wouldn’t have to resort to bullets and bombs.
discharge – 271
“Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him”
you would have gotten away with it it if werent for those meddling hadith
shazlee – 40
…. Majority of the hadiths are forgeries concocted much later after Muhammed and changed by various muslims rulers to cement their positions in power struggles and civil wars.
Bukhari examined 500,000 hadiths and reduced these to a few thousand which later were changed by muslim rulers to suit their ends.
Generian – 304
…. The reason why executing apostates has always been well-ensconced in Islamic law is that there is an indisputable record of Muhammad and his companions doing exactly that according to the reliable Hadith. According to verse 4:80 of the Quran: “Whoso obeyeth the Messenger obeyeth Allah.”
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.
Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,YY (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”
Bukhari (84:57) – “[In the words of] Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”
Bukhari (89:271) – A man who embraces Islam, then reverts to Judaism is to be killed according to “the verdict of Allah and his apostle.”
Bukhari (84:58) – “There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu’adh asked, ‘Who is this (manYY?’ Abu Muisa said, ‘He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.’ Then Abu Muisa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, ‘I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice.’ Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed.
blueburmese – 486
Islam is a backwards, fascist ideology that has no place in modern, civilised society. Death sentence for refusing to believe? Seriously?
PetraMB – 427
And what does it tell us about Islam as practiced in the 21st century that Mehdi Hasan feels he should write a longish article with all sorts of rather desperate arguments supporting the view that Muslims should not be threatened with death for converting to another faith?
[MH said][14 Muslim-majority nations make conversion away from Islam illegal; several – including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Sudan – impose the death penalty on those who disbelieve. […] There is a misguided assumption among many Muslims that such an abhorrent punishment is divinely mandated.]
So Mehdi Hasan thinks they are all wrong — and this is something I would like to believe, too. But the problem is that many millions of Muslims, and many Muslim religious leaders and scholars obviously think that Mehdi Hasan is wrong…
Persianwar – 288
…. Islam deals in pluralism when it is a minority faith, but when it becomes the majority all the pluralism and tolerance goes out of the window.
warmachineuk – 143
…. the majority of Muslims tolerate it by mumbling excuses and averting their eyes, not even a quick, resigned condemnation. Not even a majority saying “Everyone knows the Iranian judiciary have lost the plot. Ignore them.”
…. Of course, Islam is a broad, ill-defined term covering many ideas, some of which contradict each other, but when stating something is Islamic, that means the majority of people who regard themselves as Muslim would regard it as Islamic. By his own admission, the author’s opinion is in the minority. Therefore, it does not represent the general, Islamic view.
JamesDavid – 325
[MH said][The decision to execute Nadarkhani beggars belief.]
Erm, no. It’s actually quite typical behaviour for a tyrannical Muslim theocracy, and it’s what we’ve come to expect from most avowedly Islamic countries. It’s not surprising at all. The only thing which is surprising is that you think it’s surprising.
TheUsualSuspects – 102
…. Islam, until it is scorned and recognised for the pathetic belief system that it is, should be attacked and ridiculed at every opportunity. There is no ‘real Islam’. Just differing degrees of delusion.
StephenGash – 65
…. no Muslim country has signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights instead signing their own Cairo Declaration that enshrines sharia law that in turn enshrines the dominance of Muslims over non-Muslims
Kimpatsu – 52
Mehdi, you are committing a “No true Scotsman” logical fallacy. But then, of course, if you understood logic, you wouldn’t be superstitious.
johnmrson – 104
[MH said][This brutality is not Islam]
Yes it is. You can pretend that it isn’t from your comfortable home in a Christian country but the reality is very different in Muslim countries.
Yddgrasil – 78
When will the OIC (Organization fo Islamic Countries) do the following:
1. Condemn Iran’s actions in this case
2. Allow Non muslims of all religions to build their own houses of worship in Saudi Arabia ?
3. Allow non muslims to enter the cities of Mecca and Medina?
Any chance of the above three happening in our lifetime?
Keo2008 – 48
The Hadiths may not be the Quran, but they are deemed to be the words and thoughts of Mohammed, as collected and confirmed in the centuries following.
As such they carry the same authority as the Quran.
…. So those sympathetic to Islam can squirm as much as they like. The fact is that the Hadiths do represent the absolute truth to true believers of Islam. And they do indeed call for the execution of those who desert Islam (along with many other gruesome and barbaric practices).
ZackSame – 24
The intent of the article is good but it’s just a shame that in a rational world Mehdi Hasan to scrabble about the scriptures and the words of ‘religious’ leaders to find a reason not to string a person up for being of a different faith, which is a bit depressing.
DavidPavett – 9
…. The biggest question for me is located in this passage.
[MH said][Meanwhile the silence from the world’s Muslims – especially the UK’s usually voluble Muslim organisations and self-appointed “community leaders” – has been shameful. The irony is that I have yet to come across an ordinary Muslim who agrees that a fellow believer who loses, changes or abandons his or her faith should be hanged. Yet frustratingly few Muslims are willing to speak out against such medieval barbarism. We mumble excuses, avert our eyes.]
We need another article which discusses the nature of Muslim organisations to explain how and why there is such a misfit between what ordinary Muslims think and what is said, or not said, on their behalf regarding apostasy.
TomGamble – 29
…. 36 per cent of the young people questioned said they believed that a Muslim who converts to another religion should be “punished by death.” Among the over 55s, the figure is only 19 per cent.
This is possibly more reliable than the straw poll Hasan claims to have taken
ExileCuChulainn – 26
…. The problem is that while the Koran merely describes the punishments that await the apostate in the next world (Koran 3:86-91(, the hadith is emphatic about justice that must be meted out in this one: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”
No metaphor hides this directive and it would seem that no process of liberal interpretation can brush it under the carpet.
The justice of killing apostates is a matter of mainstream acceptance , if not practice. This explains why there did not appear to be a single reasonable muslim living on earth willing to speak out when the Ayatollah Khomeini put a bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie
Azadmiah – 37
Apostasy is a crime in orthodox Islam, the fact the 14 Muslim states make it so, demonstrates that, as most Islamic scholars agree on that.
…. As a secular Muslim, don’t get me wrong, I think Islam needs reformation, just as Christianity did centuries ago. ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ verse which most scholars have concluded is abrogated, replaced by more intolerant verses.
And don’t forget Quran is not the only guide, scholars also use Hadith, for Sharia Law. In Muslim countries, even if the state does not prosecute for someone for apostatsy, then the public would take actions against the apostates. It’s well very well for handful of liberal Muslims to come here and say ‘this is not Islam’, please debate that with the Mullahs and with the general Muslim populations, if you’re not forced into hiding.
Lehihamra – 39
[MH said][1) Is the God we worship so weak and needy that he requires us to force our fellow humans to worship him? 2) Is our religion so frail and insecure that it cannot tolerate any rejection whatsoever?]
1) Having regularly seen the muttawa on the streets of Riyadh rounding up stray men around prayer time and forcing them into mosques it appears that yes, he is seen as that weak and needy, at least by the religious police. And then there are the millions of children who every week attend religious school. I am sure there is more that a little compulsion involved there.
2) Well, from the Rushdie affair to the Danish cartoons it would seem that there is a huge lack of tolerance for rejection or, especially, derision.
TheDeuce – 19
Islam is not the Koran (a collection of saying that people remembered Mohammad saying that he claimed came from Allah that were most likely first written down in Syriac) but the the Koran, Hadith and the example of Mohammad’s life.
When that is considered the majority of muslims in the world do conclude that apostasy is punishable by death. So this is what Islam is.
apartment7 – 57
[MH said][Is our religion so frail and insecure that it cannot tolerate any rejection whatsoever?]
Trivial Danish cartoons leading to spontaneous mass protests baying for blood and death in many countries? That’s a resounding yes from a huge number of Muslims then.
…. [MH said][There is a misguided assumption among many Muslims that such an abhorrent punishment is divinely mandated. It isn’t. Classical Muslim jurists wrongly conflated apostasy with treason. The historical fact is that the prophet Muhammad never had anyone executed for apostasy alone. In one well-documented case, when a Bedouin man disowned his decision to convert to Islam and left the city of Medina, the prophet took no action against him, remarking only that, “Medina is like a pair of bellows: it expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good”.]
So we should just hope that Nadarkhani is “expelled as an impurity” – that’s what Muhammad would’ve wanted. Utterly odd thing to write on this subject. Responding to religious nonsense with more religious nonsense, albeit slightly less hateful.
But hell, this is The Guardian after all so nobody should be surprised.
Tridhos – 38
Keep on repeating. “there is no coercion in Islam”, and there is no L in London.
Infidel – 55
[MH said][This brutality is not Islam]
Oh yes it is.
I have been to exhibitions and open weeks intended to explain Islam and have been told by the otherwise polite Muslims promoting their faith as one of tolerance, justice and peace that the punishment for apostasy is death.
If you haven’t spoken to any of your fellow Muslims who agree with this, Mehdi, then you’re not speaking to enough people.
MatthewPB – 64
[MH said][This brutality is not Islam]
Well can you tell me what is? Is it flogging girls for allowing themselves to be raped? Is it not permitting Israel to be shown on maps? Is it stoning adulterers and homosexuals? Is it rioting and threatening violence everytime someone causes Muslims ‘offence’?
I could go on, but the point is that we’re constantly told what is ‘not Islam’ in spite of overwhelming evidence that it is a violent, racist, misogynistic, anti-semitic, homophobic belief system.
[MH said][when a Bedouin man disowned his decision to convert to Islam and left the city of Medina, the prophet took no action against him, remarking only that, “Medina is like a pair of bellows: it expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good”.]
Oh, that’s alright then – Muhammad didn’t execute the unbeliever, he just regarded him as “an impurity”. Much like the Nazis regarded Jews as “impurities”. What a nice fellow he was after all.
herbgill – 34
[A commenter said][I’m a Muslim. And I’ve spoken to Muslims who would no doubt applaud stringing up someone for apostacy. They’re called the lunatic fringe.]
But this lunatic fringe extends all the way to the center.
DocMolotov – 37
How did the Lunatic fringe get to run a whole country?
Sameer101 – 42
Mehdi, you disingenuous snake you.
If you’re going to write an article about apostasy in Islam, then you could at LEAST include the infamous words of “prophet” Muhammad in which he said… “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”. – Bukhari V4 B52 N260
Or when he said… “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.” – Bukhari V9 B83 N17
You could have also mentioned that all major schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death.
Unionised – 36
You can tell just how fucked up Islam is by the fact that this discussion – whether people who leave Islam should be killed or not – is taking place.
Are there many other religions in the world where this discussion is going on? I have never heard a Christian support the killing of people who leave Christianity.
shazlee – 3
…. the hadiths do not carry the same authority as the Quran. Only some of the hadiths carry weight but they are secondary to the Quran.
There are many hadiths that contradict the teachings of Quran and even defame Muhammed. Various collections of hadiths were gathered after 150 – 200 years after Muhammed. Bukhari is to said have examined over 500,000 and reduced these to a coupe of thousand. This shows the level of forgery in so called hadiths . Other collectors did the same in weeding out the forgeries.
But then corrupt muslim rulers started to changed these collections to to fulfil their power ambitions and purge their opponents.
[A commemter said][So those sympathetic to Islam can squirm as much as they like. The fact is that the Hadiths do represent the absolute truth to true believers of Islam. And they do indeed call for the execution of those who desert Islam (along with many other gruesome and barbaric practices).]
No they dont. A two-minute research on hadiths will show that only those hadiths that concerned with the practice of the religion were examined authenticated and not all hadiths in the collections. Futher these scholars have classed the hadiths into 4 categories from authoritative to weak where they cannot be corroborated.
SoundMoney – 46
[MH said][This brutality is not Islam]
Please name every imam who has unreservedly condemned it.
Unionised – 49
According to a study carried out last year by the highly regarded Pew Research Center, the majority of Egyptian Muslims, Nigerian Muslims, Jordanian Muslims and Pakistani Muslims, not to mention a third of Indonesian Muslims, think those who leave Islam should be executed.
Mike500 – 34
…. Sorry, but if the Islamic texts state that death is acceptable for Apostacy, then it is part of Islam (the last guy to call out a verse as a fraud was Salman Rushdie).
Trying to pass it off as “not proper Islam” because not all Muslims believe in it, makes no more sense than trying to pass off Calculus as “not proper Maths” by someone who ignores it and only studies Trigonometry.
Zurcher – 22
…. I spent many hours arguing with educated British muslim colleagues over two years in my last job, and found that rather than being in the minority, the offensive (to secular westerners) views of the “extreme” wing are actually much more common, and in my experience, form mainstream majority opinion.
fairmind – 45
Even today temples are being destroyed in Pakistan and Bangladesh and a few Hindus that are left in these countries are being converted forcibly. Even the Prophet converted nonbelievers forcibly and those who refused were raped, killed or made slaves. That is the history of Islam, they don’t believe in human rights.
CraigSummers – 36
[MH said][“…..In 1948, most of the world’s Muslim-majority nations signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights……The then Pakistani foreign minister, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, wrote: “Belief is a matter of conscience, and conscience cannot be compelled.”……” “……Fast-forward to 2011……”]
Uh, no Mr. Hasan. You (i suspect not out of ignorance) skipped an important step. In 1990, the Organization of Islamic Conference composed of (now) fifty seven members signed the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam which is a more “culturally sensitive” human rights document based on Sharia Law (“…..which provides an overview on the Islamic perspective on human rights, and affirms Islamic Shari’ah as its sole source…..”) .
No where in the document is there a guarantee of religious freedom.
According to Wikipedia:
“…..The CDHRI does not discuss freedom of religion, assembly, association or the requirement of free consent to marriage, the right to a fair trial, prisoners’ rights, minority rights, the right to a nationality, suffrage, social security, trade unions, strikes or participation in cultural life. The Cairo Declaration also includes several crucial limitations, including all rights being bound by Islamic law; it allows the right to take a life, inflict bodily harm, that the education of children be in accordance with sharia, that there are rights that can be claimed from children or kin, restriction on freedom of movement and the ability to deny refugees protection whenever permitted by sharia.[1…..”
It is wrong to suggest that Muslim majority countries are signatories to the UDHR. The CDHRI is one reason that minorities and women fair so poorly in Muslim majority countries.
Keo2008 – 10
@Shazlee: I am aware of the extra information you provide about the Hadiths
…. Rather than criticising my interpretation, you might be better off trying to persuade Muslim clerics and governments worldwide to abandon the Hadiths and stop claiming they are part of Islam.
So long as so many Muslims choose to believe that the Hadiths represent Islam, my criticisms stand.
moroboshi – 28
Medieval supernatural belief systems use medieval punishments. What a shocker.
thegoodcat – 29
“This brutality is not Islam” Yes it is – reject and throw away all this medieval mumbo jumbo. Try joining and enjoying the modern world and no it isn’t easy to be captain’s of your own fates; it takes courage.
RichieRich66 – 40
[A commenter said][Mehdi, you disingenuous snake you.]
Given that Medhi’s article doesn’t contain the word “hadith”, I’d say that’s fair enough.
Despite what Shazlee says about Bukhari, it is regarded a the most definitive set of hadiths.
Here’s the introduction to Islam on Wikipedia. The first para (bold added) reads
Islam…is the monotheistic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God …., and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of Hadith) of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God.
So here we have it.
1. The hadith are a core text in Islam
2. Bukhari is the most authentic hadith
3. Bukhari says the punishment for apostasy is death
stuv – 40
… if CiF intends to continue commissioning articles from Mehdi Hasan, I really REALLY think he should be asked to turn up BTL to answer critical comment … because we all can read what the koran states as the word of allah, and because we all – via polls and daily news -know how many MANY muslims think and act … so we cannot help pointing out the conflict between what he would have us understand is islam and the reality of what islam is … until he faces up to this paradox, his articles miserably fail to convince …