Friday, September 30, 2011

Apostasy from Islam

Fortunately, it has now been widely reported that the Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing the death penalty, having once again refused to convert to Islam to save his life:

Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for the crime of apostasy because he allegedly abandoned Islam for Christianity. As a pastor, Iranian clerics believe that Nadarkhani was preaching in order to convert Muslims.

While it is encouraging that many are petitioning for his release and dismissal of all charges against him, it is important to remember that this type of egregious human rights violations is endemic to Islam. Although most Islamic countries will not impose the death penalty if a Muslim converts, I don’t know of any that will allow this to slide. The Koran reads:

• But whosoever accepts disbelief willingly, he incurs God's Wrath, and there is severe torment for all such people"(Quran-usc 16:106).

Although the Koran does not designate a particular penalty for apostasy, several sayings of Mohammad (the Hadiths) specify death:

• Narrated 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle 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, Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:17)

According to the Wikipedia, even when Islamic governments do not impose penalties for apostasy, the Imams will:

• The violence or threats of violence against apostates in the Muslim world usually derives not from government authorities but from individuals or groups operating with impunity from the government. An example is the stabbing of a Bangladeshi Murtad Fitri Christian evangelist while returning home from a film version of the Gospel of Luke. Bangladesh does not have a law against apostasy, but some Imams encourage the killing of converts from Islam. Ex-Muslims in Great Britain have faced abuse, violence, and even murder at the hands of Muslims. There are similar reports of violent intimidation of those electing to reject Islam in other Western countries.

The Wikipedia also cites a Pew survey revealing that many Muslims believe that the convert should be put to death:

• A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found relatively widespread popular support for death penalty as a punishment for apostasy in Egypt (84% of respondents in favor of death penalty), Jordan (86% in favor), Indonesia (30% in favor), Pakistan (76% favor) and Nigeria (51% in favor)
Double standards abound! While the evangelism of Muslims is strictly forbidden and punished throughout the Islamic world, the Muslim is free to evangelize anyone. Muslims can even marry non-Muslim women – they then have to convert to Islam – men of other religions are forbidden from marrying Muslim women. While no one is free to criticize Islam, Muslims are free to criticize other religions. While no one can deface a Koran, Bibles are routinely destroyed.

If Muslims are going to settle in the West, these double standards have to be addressed, and not indulged out of fear of a violent response.

However, we Christians have to keep these concerns in context of the higher, more glorious spiritual truths:

1. We too deserve only the wrath of God, but were saved by the sheer grace of God. Therefore, we, as individuals, need to treat the Muslim with the same mercy.

2. Knowing that our foremost battle is against spiritual entities, we cannot be bitter against Muslims but must love them.

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