Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PKR'S 7 Points, Better Than Nothing?

THE 22ND JULY 2014 SEVEN POINTS BY PAKATAN RAKYAT (7P).

Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red:

Point 1

1. In recognition of the spirit of the federal compact signed in 1963 known as the Malaysia Agreement, to:

a.
Recognise – in the Federal Constitution, text books and official discourses – Sabah and Sarawak as special states that are equal partners to the Peninsula of Malaysia within the Federation of Malaysia; and

To avoid confusion and to assist in national integration instead of alienation (and colonization), Peninsula Malaysia should revert to its old name of Malaya so that "Peninsular Malaysians" (Malayans) stop referring to it as "Malaysia" and don't keep asking Sarawakians and Sabahans who travel to Malaya when they arrived in Malaysia.


b.
Recognise three National Days: August 31 as the Merdeka Day for Malaya and Sabah, July 22 as the Independence Day for Sarawak and September 16 as Malaysia Day – with national celebrations for August 31 and September 16.

Preferably there should only be ONE National Day and that is Malaysia Day, September 16. Celebrating too many "National Days" is divisive. Each Nation (Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah) can celebrate its own Independence Day separately, NOT as a national celebration. As it is now, to call August 31 as "National Day" is highly misleading, since it only applies to the Independence Day of Malaya and Sabah, not Sarawak.
 
Point 2

2. In the spirit of true federalism that values unity in diversity while preserving a cohesive nation, to:

a.
Uphold Bahasa Malaysia as the national language unifying all Malaysians regardless of faiths, ethnicity or mother-tongue;

In the true spirit of the Malaysia Agreement, Sarawak and Sabah should revert to English as their official language. If the Malayans know what is good for them they will also do so, but they are not to be compelled in this regard, nor should they compel Sarawak and Sabah, with their minority Malay populations, to adopt the Malay language.


b.
Protect the freedom of expression and information in all languages, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including the use of Allah in the Malay and Iban-language Bibles and other publications; and

c.
Establish a television channel for Borneo.

Why only one? Sarawak and Sabah should be able to establish as many television channels as they like.

Point 3

3. In full recognition of the injustice in the marginalization and poverty suffered by Sarawak and Sabah despite their rich resources, as a result of corruption, nepotism and cronyism by both the Federal and State Governments, bring about the following economic reforms and developments when Pakatan Rakyat forms the new federal and state governments:

a. Federal-state sharing of petroleum wealth and power in Petronas, with
i.
a director each from Sarawak, Sabah and all other petroleum-producing states on Petronas’ Board;

What a director each from Sarawak and Sabah and all other petroleum-producing states? Only proportionate representation based on the approximate value of each country or state's production would be fair. 

Also a formula should be worked out whereby the shareholding of Petronas should be restructured on the same proportionate basis, with say 20% to the Federal Government and the balance of 80% proportionately between the petroleum-producing countries/states.


Petronas's management structure should also be revamped so that there is a regular rotation of qualified persons for the position of CEO between the petroleum-producing countries/states. Senior management positions should as far as reasonably possible be allocated equitably and take into account merit as well as contribution.
 
ii.
the establishment of state-owned second-tiered Oil and Gas company as Petronas’ partners; and

iii.
20% royalty for those states;

Not acceptable. Petronas has been in existence and has been in full control of the petroleum resources of the relevant countries/states for 40 years already. 20% is insufficient redress. The formula should be 80:20 not using the value of crude at the well-head as has been practised all this while, but given the full attributed refined value added.  


b. The abolition of cabotage policy to eliminate the artificial price disparity that burdens the people of Sarawak and Sabah;

c. The construction of a Pan-Borneo highway of comparable quality to those highways in Peninsular Malaysia.

It should not just be a Pan-Borneo highway, but a whole network of highways linking all major cities and towns in Sarawak and Sabah, all toll-free.


d. The supply of electricity and tap water to 90% of households in Sarawak and Sabah.

The target should be 100%. No community or household should be left behind.
 
Point 4

4. To correct and prevent the illegal naturalization and enfranchisement of foreigners and the failure in safeguarding the border of Sabah, establish permanent joint Federal-State Commissions in Sarawak and Sabah answerable to both the Federal Parliament and the respective State Assemblies in order to oversee:

a.
The naturalization of foreigners in Sarawak and Sabah;

This process must be made open and transparent with properly defined and informed procedures, so that true local citizens may also voice legitimate objections where deemed necessary.

Reversal of the illegal naturalization and enfranchisement of foreigners must also take place. Since most of them have been a long time in the country, permanent residence may be considered on individual merits but not citizenship or the right to vote. 


b.
The trans-migration of other Malaysians into Sabah and Sarawak; and

c.
Border and coastline security in both states.

Point 5

5. To ensure protection of the native communities and environment:

a.
Establish State Land Commissions in Sarawak and Sabah, with institutionalized representation from the native communities and answerable to the respective State Assemblies, to administer land especially Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands, undertake surveys, investigate and resolve land disputes; and

A unit trust scheme along the lines of ASN/ASB with local participation, consent and input should be established to properly develop and unlock the value of un-utilized or under-utilized NCR lands for the benefit of the respective landowners, while at the same time preserving their customary rights.



b.
Establish elected third-tiered governments at city and division level, with the boundaries of rural divisions taking into account socio-cultural boundaries of native communities where possible, to facilitate participatory decision-making and indigenous autonomy.

Point 6

6. Guided by the spirit of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, support human resource development in Sarawak and Sabah, with no discrimination on the ground of religion, through:

a.
Borneonisation of the state public service in Sarawak and Sabah with transparent and meritocratic recruitment and promotion;

b.
Recruitment of more Borneans into the Administrative and Diplomatic Services and appointment of more Borneans as Ambassadors and High Commissioners; and

c.
Both scholarships for both Bornean students in general and Bornean native students in particular with no discrimination on the ground of ethnicity and religion.

Point 7

7. Establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to commence a study on the health of federalism in Malaysia within the first year of the new Federal Government and complete it within 3 years, to reform and rejuvenate our federal system before GE15 to better serve the nation and all the states and territories.

With the above caveats, comments and recommendations, I believe a good start can be made at normalising the health of federalism in Malaysia.

Other areas that will need to be seriously looked into are the revamp of the electoral system, giving due weight to Sarawak and Sabah, appointment of Prime Minister on a popular vote basis instead of majority party basis (thereby also giving qualified Sarawakians and Sabahans a chance to lead the nation), financial autonomy and education system.

In the event unfairness, injustice and oppression still persist, Sarawak and Sabah should have at any time the opportunity and right to review the situation by referendum to decide whether to secede or not without any interference from Malaya.

Al Tugauw
Sarawak Headhunter 

Friday, June 27, 2014

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Friday, May 23, 2014

What Do We Call UMNo & The Malays Who Support It?

UMNo, in spite of governing the country for more than 50 years, has ironically emerged as the biggest threat to itself and to the nation. The parasitic seeds of this disaster were planted within UMNo from its very inception and have now grown out of control.

The tree that fed itself fat on the resources of the land now feeds on the very people themselves - all Malaysians and even the Malays who form UMNo's membership, whether the latter realise it or not, as many who used to support it already do.

UMNo, formed by the Malay political "elite", was adopted by the British colonial masters as the most convenient and amenable vehicle to hand over independence of Malaya to, as opposed to the other more socialist, people-centric and radical-minded Malay groups. This synergy and collusion with the colonial regime sealed the fate of Malaya's and subsequently Malaysia's political development.

Because it was ostensibly Malay-centric, UMNO was able to garner popular Malay support, not the least because it also had the support of the colonial powers who actively suppressed all other nationalist movements in its favour. 

It was also supported by other race-based parties such as MCA and MIC that came into being in its wake, when the Chinese and Indian political elite also came to realise the benefits of cooperating with an UMNo that had the blessings of the British. Together they were thus able to convince the more passive and gullible members of each of their respective races to support what was to become the collective agenda of the Malayan political elite under UMNo leadership. 

UMNo's Malay-centric emphasis was in reality just an excuse that appealed to the political insecurities of the Malays, in spite of the fact that it actually went against Islamic teachings that denied and even abhorred race or racism as a basis for Islam. UMNo's Malay-centric ideology became so greatly ingrained in the Malay political psyche that its leadership was even able to fuse and confuse race and religion into becoming the basis of its political platform and survival, notwithstanding this incompatibility.


Even one of the main founding fathers of UMNo and its first President, Onn Jaafar, could not overcome this and was forced out of UMNo when he proposed to turn it into a multi-racial party. 

UMNo's apparent "success" and its ultimate failure may be traced back to this unfortunate emphasis on race, an emphasis that not only subverted the religion of Islam but also the Malays themselves and which was manipulated and taken full advantage of by their leaders. 

The nation's wealth and resources, its economy and commerce, the education system, the electoral system, the entire instruments of government, the civil service and all its branches, parliament and the judiciary, the police and the army, even royalty and the very cause of justice, were all corrupted and subverted by them in the name of the Malays, yet anyone who questioned or opposed them became "enemies of the nation" and charged with sedition. And they have even made every citizen pay for their misdeeds and mismanagement.

Many illegitimate fruits were born of this tree of purportedly good intentions (to help the Malays). The bulk of these haram fruits were consumed by the elites of UMNo, their families and their cronies (of all races) and the remainder to feed their supporters, most of whom nevertheless gave their eager support notwithstanding that they were merely struggling to survive.

They even managed to convince the Malays that all their woes lay at the doorstep of the non-Malays, thus solidifying fear, envy, resentment, intolerance, racism, religious extremism and bigotry amongst the ranks of the ordinary Malays.

With the connivance of the British who were eager to get rid of their colonies in the region but still maintain some measure of benefit from them, UMNo's leaders eyed with their customary greed the vast land mass and resources of Sarawak and Sabah and the Singapore entreport and were able to con them into the formation of Malaysia. 


The additional majority Chinese population of Singapore could thus be counter-balanced by co-opting the majority non-Muslim and non-Malay natives of Sarawak and Sabah into a wider purportedly Bumiputra agenda (behind which the Malays, or rather their leaders, could now hide).

Notwithstanding their sweet promises, UMNo's leadership did not actually have any intention of letting Singapore, Sarawak or Sabah become equal partners with Malaya in the Federation of Malaysia. They used all ways and means (mainly foul) to manipulate these new "states" and bring them under the hegemonic control of Malaya (UMNo).

Singapore fought back and was rewarded by being kicked out of the federation, to its ultimate betterment. Sarawak and Sabah didn't take the opportunity then presented to review their position in the truncated federation and were rewarded with the first Sarawak Chief Minister being removed unconstitutionally and a state of emergency declared, the first Sabah Chief Minister and half of his cabinet dying in a mysterious air crash, their entire petroleum wealth and their whole finances and education system coming under Federal control and Malayanisation instead of Borneonisation of their administrative services and many other travesties and tragedies.

For a long time, they managed to hide all their misdeeds through tight control of the mass media and pretend that they had popular support through a rigged electoral system, but with the advent of the internet, they could no longer escape the intense scrutiny and revelations of their misconduct were out in the open. Even the Malays - those with conscience and who see and acknowledge the truth - have begun to desert them.

Their only answer to this instead of reform and change for the better has been to stonewall, fabricate false charges and resort to intimidation and violence.

What do we call people like these?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Misguided Attempt By A Sarawakian To Justify Malayan Oppression of Sarawak


Malaysian Insider

Side Views

Sarawak for Sarawakian kleptocrats – Brewin Edward Emprang

April 08, 2014

Sarawak Headhunter's comments in red.

By history, the states of Sabah and Sarawak are enjoying many privileges. Restricting people from entering the states for no sensible reason is one of them.

In reality these are not privileges but necessary provisions to avoid wholesale economic migration by Malayans and utter domination of the local populace of Sarawak and Sabah. In spite of these safeguards the Malayans have nevertheless managed to achieve a large measure of political and economic control of these nations through unwarranted political and bureaucratic manipulation as well as illegal and unconstitutional legislation (in the form of the Petroleum Development Act, through which their petroleum resources were expropriated by the Malayan Federal government without adequate recompense). 

However, there are those who still think that Sarawak should leave the Federation as the state is allegedly being treated less equal than other states in the Peninsula.

Unless the situation is redressed, there is absolutely no benefit for Sarawak to remain in the Federation. This is not merely a question of unequal treatment vis-a-vis the Malayan states, but systematic unfair and unjust treatment, and neither is this just a mere allegation.

Even the relegation of Sarawak and Sabah from independent nations (albeit former British colonies) to the status of the 13th and 14th states of the Malaysian Federation smacks of gross unfairness and injustice. There would have been no Malaysia without Sarawak and Sabah, yet these two nations found themselves completely disadvantaged and taken advantage of by the wily and more politically savvy Malayans and their assets stripped.

The Malayans, particularly the Prime Minister Tuanku Abdul Rahman, couldn't handle Singapore's demands for fair treatment, let alone take advantage of it, and so allowed it to secede (in reality booted it out of the Federation willy-nilly without consulting the other original partners in the venture, Sarawak and Sabah).   

If so, with all due respect, the question is, is secession necessary in that regard? The onus is on those people to explain that there is a need for Sarawak to secede willy-nilly from the federation.

With all due respect, YES, secession is necessary, unless justice is done with regard to Sarawak and Sabah in all matters. The onus is upon Malaya to explain why these two richest nations now have among the highest incidence of poverty and under-development, while Brunei which declined to join in Malaysia's formation and Singapore which left have now among the highest per capita incomes in the world.

When the Japanese came long before Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud became our Chief Minister, they coined the slogan “Asia for Asians” as part of their propaganda.

I do not know and never want to know about the real meaning and agenda of the “Sarawak for Sarawakians” slogan. It appears to be of the same genus with the aforesaid Japanese slogan but of a different species.

This is irrelevant to the present situation. Sarawak and Sabah are not invaders like the Japanese were then. In fact a far more insidious form of neo-colonialism by Malaya has invaded Sarawak and Sabah under false pretexts.

Therefore, it is probably being used for the same motive or sort of, however, it is just my guess.

If “Sarawak for Sarawakians” means to rule out Umno from entering Sarawak, to me, it is hand-waving, because we already have our own Umno called “PBB”.

It is this UMNo called "PBB" that has been the local instrument of the devastation of Sarawak's natural resources (whatever was left anyway, after the Malayans had siphoned off the petroleum) and the marginalization and continued impoverishment of the majority of Sarawak's people (especially the natives).

But if it means to prevent PKR, PAS, and DAP from strengthening their bases in Sarawak, it makes political sense. I genuinely believe any reasonable tyrant in Taib’s shoes would also do the same.

There is no such thing as a reasonable tyrant and such a belief is utterly misguided.

Is today’s Sarawak not for Sarawakians? Is this slogan suggesting that Sarawak is currently owned by people from Peninsula in some manner?

The ugliness of colonialism (neo or otherwise) and any form of oppression is that ownership rights are misappropriated and wrongfully exercised by the master, whether the oppressed subjects realize it or not. This is the case with the current state of the relationship of Malaya with Sarawak and Sabah, notwithstanding the outward trappings of an illusionary democracy.

Why "illusionary democracy"? An illegitimate government that is spawned by a rigged electoral system can only be described as such. It commands no legitimacy, is highly corrupt and deals with inequality, unfairness and injustice.
  
If I had to say that people who believe Sarawak is being plundered by Malaya do not understand the concept of federalism and in the dark about the separation of power between state and federal government, I would be whacked for being condescending. But those are the best words that I know if I had to describe them.

This is not just mere belief. It is actually happening, and anyone who doesn't see it is blind. Federalism is not a tool of oppression nor separation of power between the state and federal governments the modus operandi to achieve the latter.
 
Aside from oil and gas, matters including land and timbers are governed by the state government itself. As for oil and gas, the state is receiving 5% per annum.

The separation of power between the state and federal governments is also rendered illusory when both are ruled by the same coalition, a coalition that has come to power illegitimately.

Perhaps, some may dispute the adequacy of the amount, but if they were to take into account the very fact that Petronas belongs to the people of Malaysia including Sarawakians, and there are quite a number of Sarawakians working for the GLC, the amount to me is reasonable.

The fact that there were quite a number of Sarawakians working for the British colonial government did not make it any more right or reasonable. The fact is that Petronas is controlled by the Malayans and they deal with its resources and incomes as they see fit, and there is nothing their Sarawakian serfs can do about it.

Therefore, if there is a party to be blamed for the underdevelopment of Sarawak, it is the people of Sarawak themselves, or rather the local politicians running the state. Not the people of Malaya.

Taib and his family have been keeping Sarawak’s treasures in their house safe for so long yet those racist anti-Malayan crusaders accuse Malayans of looting the state’s timbers and land.

With arrogance and blatant nepotism, Taib transformed state-owned companies into his family-owned enterprises, and alienated state lands to his family, and granted logging concessions to himself, yet the Malayans are the culprit? 

The people of Sarawak are powerless in view of the rigged electoral and political system and are not to be blamed for the underdevelopment of Sarawak. The parasitic local politicians who manipulate them and its resources are merely tools of the Malayans in power who depend on them to keep the local populace under subjugation. In return the Malayans allow them to take their share of the plunder from the resources that are under their control. 

It is a symbiotically parasitic relationship.

There is absolutely no issue of racism in the fight against Malayan oppression. It is a matter of principle.

Taib and his family (and cronies) are able to rape Sarawak's timber and land because of this mutually parasitic dependence. The Malayans will not take action against Taib no matter how corrupt he is because he was instrumental in handing over Sarawak's petroleum resources to them and in keeping them in power. Therefore Taib's abuse of this power of attorney does not absolve the Malayans of any of the blame since they allow such abuse. They are also still the main culprits.  

I, as a Sarawakian, in all honesty, feel ashamed of those people who vent their anger at the people of Malaya for the woeful state of the electricity, water, and roads in Sarawak.

You should feel ashamed of yourself that you are so blinded by your Malayophileness that you cannot see that the Malayans, having expropriated Sarawak's petroleum resources to do with as they please, are responsible for such woeful state by thereby denying Sarawak of much-needed funds for its own development. Taib of course is also responsible for this.

It is true that the current federal government, whose some of the ministers in fact are Sarawakians, is being quite unfair to the Borneans, for example in matter of cabotage.

But as far as the policy and good governance is concerned, secession is unnecessary. Political reform will do. – April 8, 2014.

If the Malayans will not or cannot do anything about the situation, then secession is imperative. The Malayans have no will nor desire to undertake political reform and have not shown any. The Malayan opposition, in spite of gains against the ruling regime, are still struggling mightily against a system rigged to ensure the entrenchment of oppression, inequality and injustice.

The question Sarawakians have to ask is if against all odds the Malayan opposition comes to power, will it have the political will to give back to Sarawak what rightfully belongs to it?

If not, then secession remains the only answer.

Al Tugauw
Sarawak Headhunter 

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is Apostasy Of Any Concern To Islam?



Is apostasy of any concern to Islam?

NOT AT ALL. Nor should it be. What therefore is all the fuss about, especially in Malaysia? Is Islam or Muslims in Malaysia under attack from apostates from Islam or from proselytizing Christians and others, perhaps even atheists and secularists?

Perhaps it is time for Muslims to start thinking and behaving rationally in accordance with the real precepts of Islam instead of merely reacting emotionally.

There are unconfirmed reports of at least 100 “Muslims” converting to Christianity per month throughout Malaysia and “estimates” that there are 30,000 Malay converts in total.

This is all probably much exaggerated. Even if it is not exaggerated, there is really no cause for alarm, no matter how much Muslims may dislike or feel uneasy about such a situation.

Adverse arrogant, intolerant and irrational Malaysian Muslim reaction to this purportedly scary scenario has led to some Christian propagandists claiming that “Coercion and threat of losing life, family, or vocation is the ONLY way Islam keeps its followers faithful. Such a beggarly religion is highly suspect. If there is someone called Allah, and if the Koran is the revelation of Allah, why can the Koran and Allah not keep the Muslim faithful? Why are death threats, and laws like these in Malaysia, needed?” (Steve Van Nattan, Islam is coming apart in the seams in Malaysia).

The matter has further been politicized by the recent enforcement by Islamic religious authorities against the use of the Name “Allah” by Christians and seizure of Bibles using the Name “Allah”.

This of course is what some of the non-Muslims would like to see, and Muslims behaving irrationally gives them great delight – it is certainly part of their scheme to provoke Muslims into behaving in this manner. Why should we give them this pleasure? Islam is stronger than that and we as Muslims should strive to be strong as well.

We do not show strength by arrogance, coercion or threats or by being intolerant or irrational – these are all signs of weakness.

On the website www.apostatesofislam.com, 12 apostates purportedly from Malaysia may be counted, 5 of whom have stated their current belief as “agnostic”, 4 “atheist” and 3 “Christianity”. Each of these different types of apostates will have to be approached differently. Are Muslim religious scholars actually equipped to dealing with any of them?

The purpose of this website is very clear – to agitate Muslims. They state “Nothing agitates a Muslim, as much as seeing a group of people who have left Islam.”

If we as Muslims become agitated then they have achieved their aim. So why get agitated?

There is nothing wrong with Islam, but as Muslims we have to accept the fact that there is either something wrong with us as a community or with the apostates themselves or perhaps both, as the reason for the occurrence of apostasy amongst us.

If there is something wrong with us, then it is within our own power to correct it if Allah wills, but if there is something wrong with the apostates, then it may not be within our power to correct it, even if we go to the extent of killing them or imposing other sanctions upon them, which will make a mockery of Islam and be of greater detriment to the Muslim community.

Islam is not mocked nor is it weakened by apostasy. Let us be clear about this.

We should not be concerned about it by being agitated, intolerant or irrational – these are entirely different things. Even if it is of no concern to Islam, we must take it seriously. We must find out why it is happening and how we should deal with it. We can only deal with it through knowledge and enlightenment.

If we and our religious scholars and politicians do not know how to deal with it other than through coercion and threat, then there is really something wrong with us as Muslims. Are we really practising Islam?

First of all, if Muslims accept the fact that the Qur'an is the literal Word of Allah that was put in the mouth of the Prophet (pbbuh), which they do, then there cannot be any contradictions, except for later verses which have abrogated other previous verses.
On this issue the Qur'an is very clear - there is no compulsion in religion - that is a basic tenet of Islam. There really is or should be freedom of choice to believe or not to believe in Islam. The Qur'an itself does not specify any temporal or worldly penalty for not believing or even for apostasy (which is essentially disbelieving after believing).
True belief does not come from force or compulsion but from inner conviction. Muslims must accept this fact and if we do then we cannot force anyone to become a Muslim nor can we force anyone to stay in Islam.
How does this square with the fact that punishment in the Hereafter is prescribed for not believing? Isn't that compulsion and isn't that therefore a contradiction?
Here one has to be extremely careful about one's position. Allah has prescribed punishment for unbelief or disbelief and He has also prescribed that there should be no compulsion in religion. What does this mean? Is Allah contradicting Himself here?
Far from it, in fact absolutely NOT.
Having prescribed a set of beliefs or truths for mankind's guidance and way of life in Islam, Allah has both also prescribed a punishment in the Hereafter for not believing and following that guidance and way of life AND given mankind the choice of whether to believe in it and follow it or not.
It cannot be any other way. The choice of whether to believe in Islam or not is and must be voluntary and of the individual's own free will, notwithstanding the other-worldly punishment for not believing and accepting Islam.
If such punishment had not been so prescribed, what would be the difference between believing and not believing then? No difference! - because whether you believed or not you wouldn't be punished. Happy bliss and real freedom of choice as far as non-Muslims are concerned! They can say what they like about Allah and His prescribed religion for humankind and get away with it - why become a Muslim then when they can enjoy life, mock Muslims and Islam and not be punished for it by Allah?
The difference is that - just as with any other belief - no one can force anyone else to follow Islam and become a Muslim. The acceptance of Islam and its beliefs must come out of real and voluntary internal conviction. This is the meaning of "there is no compulsion in religion".
It does not mean as many Muslims, even so-called scholars, seem to believe, that one is free to enter Islam but not free to leave it, i.e. apostasize.
There is no way therefore that there can be any punishment in this life for not believing or for apostasy.
Why does such a ruling or "law" even exist in Islam therefore? This issue has of course troubled many Muslim minds and been capitalised on by practically all non-Muslims who point to it as a contradiction in the precept laid down by Allah in the Qur’an that there is no compulsion in religion.
Let us be very clear about one thing - given the explanation above, such a ruling or law is not in accordance with the Qur'an or Allah's prescriptions and can therefore be regarded as non-Islamic or un-Islamic, notwithstanding any "scholarly" support for it or (mistaken) belief that it is/was prescribed by Allah or His Prophet (pbbuh).
What therefore should we make of any purported ruling by the Prophet (pbbuh) to "kill the apostates" and which has become the basis for such a law in "Islam"? Even if the majority of Muslims and Muslim scholars agreed on it, it would not be right according to the basic tenets of Islam. Yet it exists and Muslims are troubled to explain it or accept it without question or critical enquiry.
Most Muslim scholars who are against such a law point out that it is based on an unauthenticated report. Whatever the case is, it certainly cannot be accepted as a bare ruling or law which contradicts the Qur'an. The circumstances surrounding such a ruling (if the fact of it has been authenticated beyond doubt) must also be studied.
It is obvious that there can be no human law in Islam against (plain) apostasy per se or by itself. However, for example, apostasy which amounts to treason is or could be an entirely different matter. Even then it could amount only to a man-made law and not a Allah-given one. The Qur'an even cites the case of "multiple apostasy" which would not be possible if the death penalty was the penalty for even one instance of such an "offence".
Yet over the course of time, such a man-made law could become "accepted" as Islamic, even if there is no prescription for it in the real Islam. Would this make such a law "Islamic"? I don't think so.
All nations have laws against treason - most notably the penalty is death, although in some countries a more "enlightened" citizenry with more "humane" ideas has resulted in this being changed to life imprisonment, but a serious penalty nevertheless.
There is obviously more to the ruling "kill the apostates" than meets the eye and Muslims should not accept it as it is nor should non-Muslims condemn Islam on the basis of something which may not even be "Islamic" in the first place.
Many Muslims today, just like non-Muslims as well, carry with them the baggage of centuries of cultural, social and personal prejudices which to them represent "Islam" but is far from the real teachings of Islam.
Most people (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) find such entrenched prejudices self-comforting and will not make any effort to change or to even enquire about what the real situation is or should be, yet they will fight to the death and kill many innocents in the process to preserve or worse still propagate what is in reality only highly prejudiced and perverted beliefs.
There is no such thing as blindly following Islam, and any such opinion is completely ignorant and misguided.
Blindly following what one believes to be "Islam" is a different matter, as also making assumptions as to what Islam is and isn't.
There is no such thing as terrorism in Islam. Islam does not allow indiscriminate mass killing or destruction even in war and that makes any deliberate act which harms non-combatants even worse.
Enemies and detractors of Islam will say otherwise, as expected, but that does not change the truth.
The truth also is that Islam is the world's fastest growing and living religion and that all this is taking place without any compulsion or force, much to the dismay and dislike of its enemies and detractors - who see the only way to deal with this phenomenon is by force and military might.
Muslims must also realise that Islam can defend itself without any resort to terrorism (as also without resort to killing apostates), no matter how grave the provocation - that is the strength of Islam, not indiscriminate acts of violence which only cause greater hatred for Islam and Muslims.
Even the defeat of Muslims can ultimately lead to the triumph of Islam - witness the conversion of the Mongols to Islam after they had conquered the Muslims.
There is no shame in defeat or strategic retreat. Muslims must, as they always have, learn to adapt to changing circumstances without losing sight of Islam. We must learn that Islam is strong enough to withstand any assault, whether by reason of apostasy or any other factor.
Follow the example of the Prophet (pbbuh). Why fight to lose? Proper Islamic strategies must be put in place to respond to threat and provocation and proselytisation from the non-Muslims, without resort to violence.
Muslims must be self-disciplined and act properly in self-defence and not with outright aggression against wrong targets. Easier said than done of course, but still worth the effort in terms of Islam, personal salvation and human redemption.
Nobody said Islam was easy.
To defend ourselves from the assault of apostasy and proselytisation especially from some Christians and secularist forces, we need only to strive to make Islam a living force, not just a set of rules and regulations which are reluctantly followed.
Islam does not exclude common people from its decision-making process and neither is governance in Islam the exclusive province of only the religious scholars - who may also have their own narrow prejudices which can influence their interpretation of Islam.
Most Muslims are generally not bothered about making Islam a really integral part of their lives, yet become very upset about purported apostasy from Islam becoming widespread.

Making Islam a really integral part of their lives and not just a set of rules and regulations to be abided by is probably the one thing that will rid all Muslim lands of oppression, suppression and repression, both from Muslims themselves as well as non-Muslims.

Most Muslim ruling elites are either happy with an entirely secular form of government which is nominally democratic - i.e. only in appearance, democracy being only a tool to gain power and wealth without needing to be answerable to any Islamic principles at all, and if any only in name. Freedom without responsibility. Subversion of human values under the guise of freedom of choice. Tyranny masquerading as opportunity.

Other Muslim ruling elites have gone as far as to utilize the very principles of Islam to institute forms of government which are Islamic in name only but not in actual practice - Islam becomes for them a mere tool to keep their populace under tight and ruthless control while they also control all the power and wealth without having to be answerable to any Islamic principles themselves. Repression without accountability. Oppression and suppression in disguise. Hypocrisy of the highest order.

Where do we find the middle path here, the right balance between absolute democracy and religious extremism, that will allow Malaysian Muslims a chance to realize happiness both in this life as well as the hereafter?

While Islam in its original form must be protected, Muslims today must also learn to deal constructively with new things or bid'ah, as changes take place every second. These changes present constantly new challenges to Muslims. How do we meet them without sacrificing Islam? How do we adapt to them without ourselves changing into something which is un-Islamic?

Not everything new is un-Islamic. Muslims must continue to be in the forefront of science and knowledge and examine all things on the basis of Islam and Islamic principles and tenets.

Islamic justice must be properly understood by the scholars and ordinary Muslims alike if we are to ensure that Islam remains relevant to our lives and to reduce instances of apostasy.

There is no compulsion in religion and our duty is only to pass the message, the reception of which we have to leave to Allah. Islam has never needed to be spread by use of force.

Allah has given humans freedom of choice to accept Islam or reject it. Who are we to force it upon others or to force anyone to remain in Islam? Do we want to be continually at war with non-Muslims who reject Islam, including those “Muslims” who apostasize? Is it even necessary?

There are some things we may ultimately have to leave to Allah's judgement and included in this category is the subject of apostasy – it is completely beyond human means to enforce any punishment, other than in exceptional cases.

Nation-states for the time being are the only effective means to organise. In this age of American hegemony and imperialist ambitions, Muslims must first, along with the rest of the oppressed peoples of the world, challenge the American and European-led and oppressive international system which subjugates the majority of the globe so the interests of the West, and more specifically America, are served. Once Muslims countries improve their economies, standards of living etc. only then can we really speak of unity. It won't work as long as half of the people are starving.

The problem with this is that many of the Muslim nation-states are controlled by elites who subjugate and oppress their own people. Under these circumstances it is not easy to challenge the oppressive international system, although obviously I would agree that this needs to be done.

Many Muslim countries are in fact rich in natural resources, and there is no necessity for their people to remain poor, other than for the fact that the wealth of their countries has deliberately been controlled by their elites and not equitably distributed - this is un-Islamic, but has become a norm in many Muslim countries.

A former apostate writes in Apostasy & Islam: Through the eyes of A Former Apostate by T.O. Shanavas, the author of the book, CREATION AND/OR EVOLUTION An Islamic Perspective (ISBN 1-4134-6581-1):

“A few years ago, during question-answer session in the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, a member inquired about the punishment for apostasy in Islam. It is an unfortunate common belief among many Muslims that Shariah prescribes death for the apostate!!!

I was once an apostate and openly declared I did not believe in Islam and rejected even the existence of Allah. Thank Allah! I was then living in a country, India, where people did not execute apostates. I thank Allah for giving me a chance to repent and return to the fold of Islam. I, being an apostate once, became free from the cultural and ethnic Islam to study true Islam with an open mind. "Islamic scholars" and imams do not anymore control my mind and beliefs unless their decrees (fatawa) are (1) in conformity with the Qur'an, (2) the hadiths that they quote do not contradict the Qur'an.

Many Muslims today practice an ironic form of idolatry (in Islamic terminology, shirk, the one sin Allah does not forgive). We, Muslims, criticize other religions for not being truly monotheistic, yet so many of us are guilty of another, more subtle form of shirk: we worship our scholars instead of Allah! We commit the sin for which other people are condemned by Allah in the Qur'an:

"They have taken as lords besides Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only one Allah. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner unto Him!” [9:31]

Now, most classical commentators of the Qur'an agree that the grave transgression alluded to here is not the literal worship of the learned people. According to Tirmidhi, the Holy Prophet was asked to explain this verse by Adi ibn Hatim, a convert (or apostate) from Christianity, and he confirmed that the sin was the people, "considering lawful what their priest declared lawful, even though it was forbidden by Allah." (Al-Jami, 44:9;IJ).

I believe that many Muslims are reluctant to speak up because many "Islamic" cultures today encourage docility and teach to unquestioningly accept the decisions of "qualified" scholars. This is a new phenomenon; in the time of Muhammad (s), ideas were only supported after they had been proven to be in harmony with the Qur'an. Scholars could not just pull rank, as they were expected to be able to argue their cases. In fact, in a famous incident of Islamic history, a humble woman of Medina publicly corrected the Caliph. One day, Hazrat Umar (RA) was announcing a change in the rule mahr, when the woman in the crowd suddenly stopped him in his track by loudly quoting a verse of the Qur'an which contradicted his proposal. He had to relent, saying, "The women of Medina know the Qur'an better than Umar." So, it is time for Muslims to question the imams and scholars if they deviate from the Qur'an and hadiths that do not contradict the Qur'an. We must not only be satisfied by the answer of the scholars, but we must verify the source of their references. Remember, if Hazrath Umar (RA) can make a mistake, ordinary scholars and ordinary people like us also can make greater mistakes.

The Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (s) require Muslims to think critically. Pagans are repeatedly berated for not questioning, for not using reason, even being compared to dumb animals on several occasions!

"When it is said unto them: 'Follow that which Allah has revealed:' they say: 'Nay! We shall follow the ways of our fathers.' What! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?....Deaf, dumb, blind, therefore they have no sense.” [2:170-171]

"He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the
Book.....” [3:7]

"Will they not then ponder on the Qur'an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found herein much incongruity.” [4:83]

So, the principle established here is that (1) Muslims are required to think critically and not blindly accept the authority of their scholars, and (2) that the clear message of the Qur'an is to be preferred to any isolated law interpretation which contradicts the Qur'an's clear spirit.

The Qur'an teaches that human beings are individually responsible. So, I believe that Allah would not forgive my sins on the Day of Judgment even if my sins were the result of following the advice of a certain Imam. I would not be able to hide behind any Imam or behind his fatwa even if coming from the most respected and revered Imam of any time.

Therefore, views expressed here are my opinions based on the references given. I do not claim to be a scholar, but there are sometimes cases where the violation of the Qur'an is so self-evident that all Muslims can see them.

I believe that inhuman law of apostasy has nothing to do with Islam of the Prophet (s) and it is an interpolation into Islam by fanatics among us and the selfish rulers. There are many reasons for me to believe that execution for apostasy is a manufactured law rather than divine law.

Holy Prophet (s) spent his entire life fighting in defense of fundamental human rights that everybody should be free to choose his religion; no one must be physically forced to change religion. Prophet (s) struggled with the Meccan establishment to have the freedom to invite non-believers to Islam. This was consistent with the practices of all other Prophets.

The Qur'an states:

"...There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is here forth distinct from error...”[2:256]

In the light of the above verse, a person has to be insane to belief that Islam prescribes execution for apostasy.

The Qur'an further states:
"Say (Muhammad) it is the truth from the Lord of all. Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, LET him disbelieve.” [18:29]

In no uncertain terms, Allah commands Prophet to allow people to believe and disbelieve. If the Shariah recommends to kill an apostate, this law cannot be Islamic because it contradicts the above two verses.

The Qur'an further states:

"And so, O Prophet, exhort them, thy task is ONLY to exhort; thou canst NOT compel them to believe.” [88:21-22]

"Thy duty is to make the message reach them; it is OUR PART to call them to account." [13:40]

"Call thou (all mankind) unto thy Sustainer's path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in MOST KINDLY MANNER...” [16:125]

While the Qur'an commands the Prophet (s) not to compel people to believe in Islam and invite people with the most kind manner and words, fanatics among us threaten people with death mercilessly to keep them in the Muslim Ummah as hypocrites as if the dishonest hypocrites are better than honest apostates. It is a most heinous crime against Islam and Prophet (s) to manufacture inhuman law of execution of apostate. If the Qur'anic verses tell the Prophet not to compel people to believe in Islam (88:22) and the responsibility to call disbelievers to account rests with Allah only (1:40), the law of execution of apostates is of human origin.

Initial reluctance of the people of Arabia to accept Islam disturbed Prophet (s). Then the following verse was revealed:

"And had your Lord willed, whoever in the earth would have believed all together, will you then coerce people to become believers?” [10:99]

According to the above verse, even Allah will not coerce people to become Muslims or remain as Muslim once a person accepts Islam. So, Muslims must condemn the law of apostasy and save innocent Muslims becoming intolerant and violent by the henious indoctrination by fanatics among us because Allah says:

"Who can be more wicked than the one who invent a lie against Allah,...” [6:93]

So, religious belief is a personal matter. It is Allah alone -- not the state or religious authorities -- who know what is in the heart of the people. If the highest human authority, Prophet (s), cannot call anyone to account for belief or disbelief, no sane person can believe that religious scholars and the state have the authority to execute people for their personal belief.

The Qur'an states:

"A section of the People of the Book say: 'Believe in the morning what is revealed to the believers, Bur reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back." [3:72]

A section of People of the Book used a tactic to create doubt among the Muslims in the hope that some of them might thereby be beguiled into repudiating Islam. How could it be possible for non-Muslims to have enacted this plan to entice Muslims to believe one day and reject next, if death was the penalty for apostasy? This tactic of a group of People of the Book mentioned in the Qur’an exposes apostasy law of the Muslim fanatics as un-Islamic. In spite of the deceptive behavior, the above verse cautions Muslims that “perchance they may themselves turn back” truly to Islam. The Qur’an does not rule to kill the apostates.

Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Salul was the leader of the munafiqun (hypocrites). But Prophet (s) took no action against him. Prophet (s) prayed for him and stayed at the grave until he was buried. Those fanatics among us must explain the reason for Prophet (s) not executing the known hypocrites like Abdullah b. Ubayy. Ubbay lived until death plotting to destroy Islam and Prophet (s) knew it. He was not executed for apostasy. This suggests that apostasy law is not a divine law but interpolation by fanatics among us.

Another verse states:

"Those who believe, then reject Faith, then believe (again) and again reject Faith, go on increasing in Unbelief -- Allah will not forgive them nor guide them on the Way.” [4:137]

An apostate cannot enjoy the repeated luxury of believing and disbelieving if punishment is death. A dead man has no further chance of again believing and disbelieving. Furthermore, if taken at face value, this verse indicates that Allah will only withdraw His guidance after repeated rejections. It does not tell Prophet (s) to kill these apostates. So, what right do these religious authorities and imams have to deprive a person of access to the divine guidance after the first?

The Qur'an states:

"How shall Allah guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the apostle was true and that clear signs had come unto them? But Allah guides not a people unjust. Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse of the Allah, of His Angels, and of all mankind; -- In that will they dwell; nor will their penalty be lightened, nor respite be their lot; -- except for those that repent (even) after that, make amends; For verily Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” [3:86-89]

It is obvious from these verses that no punishment is to be inflicted by one man or another for apostasy. By no stretch of the imagination can the phrase, "curse of Allah," be interpreted to be a license to murder anyone who he considers to be an apostate. If any such commandment was prescribed it would have been clearly defined as all other punishments are in the Holy Qur'an.

The fact is that the Qur'an even mentions that apostates can be forgiven if they amend and repent. How could they repent if apostates are killed? By forced repentance? Then, does not Qur'an state that there is no compulsion in religion? The one verse that states that there is no compulsion in religion should be enough for a fair minded person to realize that Islam does not teach death to apostates.

Finally, can any one hadith suggesting to kill the apostate invalidate all the Qur'anic verses quoted earlier? We, Muslims, blame the West for anti-Muslim reporting. What do you expect from the West if we provide the sticks to beat us up? Will Muslims object the persecution of the new Muslim convert for his/her apostasy by his/her erstwhile co-religionists? If we believe that it is injustice to kill a new Muslim by non-Muslims for his/her apostasy from his/her former faith, you must give the same just treatment to Muslims who become Christians, Jews, Hindus, atheists, etc. Let Allah call to account those people who left Islam.

I, like many Muslims, am still bitter over smear jobs done on my religion by Western media over the Gulf war, and the Rushdie affair. So, the last thing that I want is to see Islam slandered all over again because of the barbaric and un-Islamic apostasy law. Ask yourselves: what kind of religion kills people for simple choice of faith, a change of heart? Not a religion of love and peace, not a religion worthy of respect! Perpetuation of the law to kill apostates can only increase or create doubts in the heart of the Muslims and potential Muslims, as people everywhere are already bombarded by negative images of Islam.

My message to those Muslims who, like me, yearn to project true compassionate face of Islam is that Dawa will never be successful in the West as long as crazy nonsense of law of apostasy is unchallenged by Muslims. If Muhammed Ali, Cat Stevens, and Murad Hoffman were harassed by a reactionary Christian group, the Muslims will be up in arms! We must be consistent in our attitude and compassionate to those Muslims who want to leave Muslim community.

"Believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil....” [9:71]

Therefore, let us protect the rights of all people to have freedom to believe and disbelieve. In closing, Islam is only vulnerable when Muslims abandon its clear teaching of reason, religious freedom, tolerance, and peace.”

There is only one cure for that - education and critical thought, especially on the real basis and tenets of Islam - the path in Islam has been clearly set – worship of Allah, prayer, spirituality, righteousness, piety, knowledge, good thought, good action, good behaviour, good deeds, trust, humility, kindness, tolerance, justice, equity, legitimacy, faith, reason, rationale, charity, peace, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, brotherhood and love.

These are all powerful weapons against oppression, wrongdoing and injustice.

Muslims have to figure out for themselves where they are going wrong if they wish to avoid getting frustrated by oppressive and unjust conduct of other Muslims as well as non-Muslims - to the extent that they are willing to blow themselves up along with innocent victims and call for the killing of apostates who do Islam and the Muslim Community no harm (they only harm themselves after all).

Did Allah give any Muslim the right to do what many assume they can do in His Name and in the name of Islam, when it is only their own egos which make such assumptions?

The Shari'ah (Islamic Law) is only one part of Islam. In the Qur'an and Sunnah (Examples or Way of the Prophet (pbbuh)) will be found the basis of Islam and the Shari'ah. When there is an apparent "conflict" between Sunnah and Qur'an, then depending upon the context and situation, the Qur'an takes precedence.

Everything in Islam is logical. Study of plain texts must always take into account the context, situation and explanation of any ruling and further purported rulings which are based on it. Rulings in Shari'ah also do take into account, among other matters, present circumstances - as long as the basics are adhered to and not changed.
When scholars disagree, usually the ruling with the more "merciful" interpretation is to be preferred. There is no question of any logic-chopping or white-washing in Islam, except in the fertile and futile imaginations of its detractors.
What passes off as Shari'ah in some Muslim countries and which defies logic is simply un-Islamic. Any law purportedly in the Shari'ah which provides for death for plain apostasy (irrespective of circumstances) is un-Islamic and is based on a non-logical interpretation of both the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Unfortunately, there do exist illogical Muslims, as with other communities as well.
The fact is that the basic tenet in Islam that there is no compulsion in religion has never been abrogated. If this is a myth, conqueror would not have taken on the religion of the conquered and Islam would have become a dead religion long ago. The truth is clear from error.
At worst, Muslims can say that anyone who leaves Islam is stupid, but they do not have the right to kill him because of that. We can only leave it to Allah to deal with such persons on Judgement Day.
My view is that the penalty for apostasy in Islam is as stated in the Qur'an below:

"Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve and thereafter go on increasing in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them, nor guide them to any way of deliverance". (4:137)

I think that it would immediately be obvious that if a person were to be put to death for apostasy, i.e. for disbelieving, it would not be possible to "believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve..."

A basic tenet in Islam is that there is no compulsion in religion. Death for apostasy therefore does not make any sense, unless such apostasy was accompanied by a betrayal of or treason or enmity/fighting against the Islamic state/community.

Perhaps it may be useful to look into the context and circumstances of the hadiths decreeing the death penalty so that this controversial (and to me unnecessary) subject is laid to rest.

My opinion is close to that in the following article:

"Is Killing An Apostate in the Islamic Law?" by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D.
President of the Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.

Ridda or Irtidãd: Literally means "turning back". The act of apostasy -- leaving Islam for another religion or for a secular lifestyle.
Murtadd: Literally means "one who turns the back." An apostate.
Murtad Fitri: Literally means apostate - natural. A person born of a Muslim parent who later rejects Islam.
Murtad Milli: Literally means apostate - from the community. A person who converted to Islam and later rejected the religion.

Due to lack of education and critical thinking several myths have taken root in the Muslim world over the ages, and there have not been any efforts in the past to clear these doubts. On the contrary, there has been a sort of effort to strengthen these myths and misconceptions. These misinterpretations of Islamic teachings have taken their toll on the Muslim world and have strengthened a misplaced perception that Islam is a symbol of obscurantism, a religion of intolerance and answers everything with the sword.

And there is no bigger misconception - strengthened with misunderstanding of Islamic beliefs over the years - other than the belief that Islam doesn't tolerate apostasy. The Christian missionaries and the Western world are cashing in on it. Ulama have tried to strengthen their point of view and several leading Muslim reformists have failed to tackle the issue. This misconception has also presented Islam as a medieval and killer religion. Islam bashers have time and again tried to carry the point by pointing out that Islam orders the killing of a person if he or she reverts to another religion from Islam.

Nobody has come forward to challenge this widely held belief as well as put forth a convincing argument about the misinterpretation of Qur'anic teachings by Ulama (Muslim religious scholars).

The Qur’an is completely silent on any worldly punishment for apostasy and the sole Tradition that forms the basis of rulings is open to many interpretations.

Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: ‘Whosoever changes his religion, kill him (man baddala Dinahu faqtuluhu)’”. It is this last quote from the Prophet that forms the basis of the said ruling.

While jurists are agreed on the authenticity of this tradition, they differ very widely on the appropriate interpretation and thus, the law concerning apostasy. Understanding the different viewpoints, and arriving at the truth is crucial to our discussion of this subject.

This tradition does not refer to Muslims who leave the religion of Islam for other religions. Finally, there is the crucial dispute over the nature of the punishment and the crime. Al-Nakha’ee and, according to Sha’rani, al-Thawri, hold that the apostate is a grave sinner who should however be continuously called back to the fold for the rest of his life, and not killed.

By implication, they do not consider the offence a hadd (fixed penalty) offence with a fixed punishment that must be carried out. This view is similar to the view that apostasy is a sin that carries no fixed punishment, and any penalty for it is discretionary (ta’zeer). This is a view held by the Hanbali scholar, Ibn Taimiya and he attributes it as well to the Maliki Imam al-Baji. Among Hanafites, the jurist Shamsuddeen al-Sarakhshi holds the same view. He says in al Mabsut that the fixed penalties or hudud are generally not suspended because of repentance, especially when they are reported and become known to the Imam. He then adds in the case of apostasy “renunciation of the faith and conversion to disbelief is admittedly the greatest of offences, yet it is a matter between man and his Creator, and its punishment is postponed to the day of Judgement. (“fa’l jaza’ ‘alayha mu’akhkhar ila dar al-jaza”).

If repentance is accepted, then apostasy is not a hadd offence with a fixed punishment. Secondly, once scholars accept that a Muslim apostate has the right to be given the opportunity to repent, they lose the right to set a time limit for his repentance.

Allah (SWT) says in the Glorious Qur’an (39: 53-54: Say: “ O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of Allah’s mercy. Behold Allah forgives all sins, for verily He is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace! Hence, turn toward your sustainer and surrender yourselves unto him before the suffering (of death and resurrection) comes upon you for then you will not be succored.”

Any scholar who says the death sentence applies to leaving the faith, then the convict is to be given a life-time to repent, and this is the view of Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibrahim al-Nakha’ee, Shamsuddeen al-Sarakhshi, Imam al-Baji and, by strong implication, Ahmad Ibn Taimiya. One must conclude that the death sentence is not for “simple apostasy” (mujarrad al-ridda), but for apostasy accompanied by treason and sedition, or by the abuse and slander (sabb) of the Noble Prophet.

Freedom to convert to or from Islam

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Glorious Qur'an says, "Let there be no compulsion in the religion: Surely the Right Path is clearly distinct from the crooked path." Al Baqarah, 2:256.

"Those who believe, then disbelieve, then believe again, then disbelieve, and then increase in their disbelief - Allah will never forgive them nor guide them to the path." Surah An-Nisa', 4:137.

For example, the Qur'an says: "Let him who wishes to believe, do so; and let him who wishes to disbelieve, do so." (Al-Kahf: 29)

In another verse, Allah Almighty says: "Yours is only the duty to convey the message; you are not a guardian over them." (Al-Ghashiyah: 21- 22)

The quotation from Surah An-Nisa', 4:137, shown above, seems to imply that multiple, sequential apostasies are possible. That would not be possible if the person were executed after the first apostasy.

From the above verses it can be argued that religious freedom and the absence of compulsion in religion requires that individuals be allowed adopt a religion or to convert to another religion without legal penalty.

Hence the death penalty is not an appropriate response to apostasy.

The former Chief Justice of Pakistan, SA Rahman, has written that there is no reference to the death penalty in any of the 20 instances of apostasy mentioned in the Qur'an.

Muslims who support the death penalty for apostasy use as their foundation the above cited hadith, in which the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: "Kill whoever changes his religion." But this is a weak foundation because this hadith was only transmitted from Muhammad (pbuh) by one individual. It was not confirmed by a second person. According to Islamic law, this is insufficient confirmation to impose the death penalty. The Shari`ah has not fixed any punishment for apostasy.

The hadith is so generally worded that it would require the death penalty for a Christian or Jew who converted to Islam. This is obviously not the prophet's intent. The hadith is in need of further specification, which has not been documented. Many scholars interpret this passage as referring only to instances of high treason. (e.g. declaring war on Islam, Muhammad (pbuh), Allah, etc.).

There is no historical record, which indicates that Muhammad (pbuh) or any of his companions ever sentenced anyone to death for apostasy.

The issue of killing a murtad or the apostate is not a simple one. Scholars have debated it from various angles and it is not simply an issue of killing someone for choosing one religion or another.

The question of apostasy has been debated among scholars based on their interpretations of some hadiths since the Qur'an does not specify any worldly punishment for it. For example, there was a case at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) where a man came to him in three consecutive days and told him that he wanted to apostate. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never took any action against him, and when the man finally left Madina, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never sent anyone to arrest him, let alone kill him.

This is why some scholars distinguished between individual apostasy and apostasy which is accompanied by high treason. So, it cannot be confused with the freedom of conscience for every individual, which has been guaranteed in the Qur'an through hundreds of verses.

For example, one version of a hadith narrated by `A'isha (RA) concerning apostasy relates to one who left his religion and fought against Muslims.


QUR'ANIC VIEWS

The Qur’an has referred to the issue of apostasy at more than one place (for example see Al-Baqarah 2: 217, Al-Baqarah 2: 108, A’l Imra’n 3: 90, Al-Nisa’ 4: 137 and Al-Nahl 16: 106). But at none of these places does the Qur’an mention the punishment of death for such people who change their religion. The Qur’an does mention that such people shall face a terrible punishment in the hereafter but no worldly punishment is mentioned at any of these instances in the Qur’an. This situation obviously raises a question mark in the mind of the reader that if Allah had wanted to give the punishment of an apostate a permanent position in the Shari`ah, the punishment should have been mentioned, at least at one of the above mentioned places. If the Qur’an had kept completely silent about the apostate, the matter would have been different. But the strange thing is that the Qur’an mentions apostasy, and still does not mention the punishment (if any) it wants the apostate to be subjected to.

Furthermore, the Qur’an has strictly disallowed the imposition of the death penalty except in two specific cases. One of them is where the person is guilty of murdering another person and the other is where a person is guilty of creating unrest in the country (fasa’d fil-ardh) like being involved in activities that create unrest in a society, for example activities like terrorism etc. The Qur’an says:

“Whoever kills a person without his being guilty of murder or of creating unrest in the land, it is as though he kills the whole of mankind.” (Al-Ma’idah, 5: 32)

Obviously, apostasy can neither be termed as "murder" nor "creating unrest in the land".

Thus, in view of the above facts, we are left with one option only. We can only say that either the saying has been wrongly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), as it is clearly contradictory to the Qur’an and the Prophet could not have said anything contradictory to the Qur’an, or that the saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) relates not to all apostates but to a particular and specific people.

Shaykh Subhani

Shaykh Inayatullah Subhani (author of the book “Apostasy doesn't carry the death penalty in Islam”) says that neither Islam forces any person to embrace neither Islam nor it forces him to remain within its fold. He writes, "Apostasy has been mentioned several times in Qur'an. It also describes the bad treatment that will be meted out for committing apostasy, but it never talks of punishment for the crime in this world." The learned scholar mentions three Ayaat (verses) from Qur'an on apostasy (Al-Baqara 217, Muhammad 25-27 and Al-Maida 54) and then says that none of these Ayaat prescribes any punishment for that though these Ayaat pass strictures on the people who commit it. There are several other Ayaat on the same issue and none of them prescribes either death penalty or any other punishment for apostasy in this world. He then adds that had there been some punishment in Islam for apostasy there was no reason as to why the issue was mentioned repeatedly in Qur'an but no punishment was prescribed.

Misinterpretation of the hadith, Man baddala Dinahu faqtuluh (kill him who changes his religion) has caused the problem. This order has been made to look general and permanent, though it was said in a particular circumstance for a particular group. Shaykh Subhani writes that this order was made to counter a scheme prepared by Jews of Madinah. They had planned that some of them embrace Islam for some time and then return to their old religion. Then some other people do the same. It was aimed to create restlessness among Muslims against their own leadership so that the strong Muslim unity should start crumbling. It was made clear in Qur'an in (Aal Imran, 3: 72-73).

To counter this planning the Prophet (SAW) ordered his companions to act in such a manner. Despite this order lengthy investigations were made to ascertain that the case was true and the person concerned was given adequate time to explain before the punishment was carried out.

Shaykh Subhani says lack of clear grasp of Qur'an misguided even leading Ulama. Otherwise it was not difficult to understand the hadith. Qur'anic teachings on the issue were not kept in mind.

He emphasizes that people who were awarded death penalty for reverting to other religions from Islam during the time of the Prophet (SAW) or during the reign of his caliphs were not given the punishment for the crime of apostasy but for the fact that they were at war with Muslims and Islamic government.

Shaykh Subhani regrets that punishment that was prescribed for certain people under special circumstances was made to look like a general order. He says that it was the order for people who posed threat to Islamic state and became at war with Islam and not for any person who reverts to other religion.

A number of Islamic scholars from past centuries, Ibrahim al-Naka'I, Sufyan al-Thawri, Shams al-Din al-Sarakhsi, Abul Walid al-Baji and Ibn Taymiyyah, have all held that apostasy is a serious sin, but not one that requires the death penalty. In modern times, Mahmud Shaltut, Sheikh of al-Azhar, and Dr Mohammed Sayed Tantawi have concurred.

In conclusion, we must never confuse the issue of killing a murtad with the freedom of conscience guaranteed in the Glorious Qur'an. For a detailed discussion, one should read (1) the Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi's book on this issue: Jareemat ar-riddah wal murtadd (The Crime of Apostasy and Apostate) - published by Ar-Risalah foundation.

(2) Apostasy doesn't carry death penalty in Islam (Book: Tabdili-e-Mazhab aur Islam) by Maulana Inayatullah Asad Subhani)-published by Idara Ihya-e-Deen, Bilariya Ganj, Azamgarh (UP, India) Pages: 108, Price Rs 30.”

It takes sincerity of heart to acknowledge the Absolute Unity or Oneness of Allah. This is the very essence of Islam and is the very 1st Commandment of ALL the Prophets.
Allah is Allah. There is nothing else like Him. Anything else other than Allah is not Allah. Only He alone is worthy of worship. To Him alone do we pray to guide us to the Straight Path (the Right Way).
Each person is responsible only for his own sins. Sincere repentance will lead to Allah's forgiveness, the consequence of which is as stated in the Qur'an, Surah Al Furqan (25:70):
"...Except he who repents, believes, and does righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil deeds of such persons into good deeds, and Allah is ever Forgiving, Most Merciful..."
True sincerity in Islam means that one does not do or avoid doing anything for rewards or out of fear of punishment. This however does not exclude ordinary sincerity where one does anything or avoids doing anything for the rewards which Allah has promised believers or because of punishment Allah has decreed for transgressors.
What more could anyone ask for? That is about as simple as it gets. There is no necessity for all kinds of convoluted and contrived doctrines and no need to argue about or harm or kill anyone over anything. All else is embellishment and perversion of the True Essence of Islam.

Al Tugauw

REFERENCES

1.                                  http://www.religioustolerance.org/isl_apos.htm

2.                                 "Islam, Apostasy and PAS," 1999-JUL-22, at: http://www.muslimtents.com/sistersinislam/

3.                                  S.A. Rahman, "Punishment of apostasy in Islam," Kazi Publ., (1986). (Limited availability from Amazon.com online bookstore).