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Muslim, Christians And The Punishment For Apostasy (I & II)

16 June 2014

By AbdulKabir Al-asfar

Muslim, Christians And The Punishment For Apostasy (I)

Once again, as has become regular, Muslims are being bashed right, left and centre for failing to adequately make their religion conform to the prevalent worldview of civilization, human rights and basic freedom.

At the heart of this issue is Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was dragged to court on the accusation of fornication, it would seem she tried to avert punishment by stating she is a Christian and had been one all her life, if that was her purpose she probably didn't expect what she got: the judge moved swiftly accusing her of apostasy, punishable by death under the Shariah. She was given three days to recant and the inevitable consequence of her failure to do so: death by hanging ( I believe she ought not to be killed, this is because her argument holds in Sharia that she was given birth to and raised as a Christian).

The judgment caused and is still causing uproar from expected and unexpected quarters … secular humanists, polytheists, Jews, Christians of every shade and colour and of course the so called modern reformed Muslims!

In the Nigerian context, the bulk of those who have screamed the most are Christians especially on social media where its no man's land, caution is thrown to the wind. Islam must be tamed forever, they seem to be saying.

As expected modernist Muslims go into the defensive saying the death sentence for apostasy is a relic of the past and contradicts the Quranic injunction of no compulsion in the religion (Q 2\256).
This is where a little humility is required especially from Christians who profess faith in a Judeo-Christian heritage represented by the two covenants of the Old and New Testaments. While one would not be in a position for lengthy theology arguments regarding the biblical position on apostasy, verses like: "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying: Let us go and worship other gods, do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.

Muslim, Christians And The Punishment For Apostasy (II)

Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people." (Deuteronomy 13: 6-9).

"And has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones." (Deuteronomy 17:3-5).

These verses and their likes are problems that Christians need to solve if they would give a robust condemnation of the Islamic punishment for apostasy, this is not to say that all Christians believe in the application of the laws of the Old Testament. No, it is merely a forceful argument that the God of the Old Testament should be subjected to the same charge of barbarity that Muslims have been accused of. In fact a Christian who does a sincere search of the Old Testament would discover that whatever rule the Islamic Shariah has brought there is a harsher version in the Old Testament.

This can even be made worse for the Christian who declares out of hand that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is barbaric, since the death penalty for apostasy was adopted several times in Christian history, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I instituted the punishment of death for apostasy in the Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law), directed towards Jews, Samaritans, Manichæans, and other heretics (10 c., "De pag.", I, 11).

Church history bears horrible testimony to the torture and murder of heretics not to talk about apostates. What on earth was the inquisition all about? A particular case in point is the cruel punishment and execution of Michael Servetus for holding among other heresies that the concept of trinity was an unbiblical one. There was unanimous consent amongst the churches (Catholics and reformers) of that period that Servetus deserved the death penalty, he was eventually burnt at the stake.

John Calvin one of the principal reformers of Christianity had this to say (when writing to his friend William Farel on 13 February 1546) about the planned murder of Servetus: "Servetus has just sent me a long volume of his ravings. If I consent he will come here, but I will not give my word; for if he comes here, if my authority is worth anything, I will never permit him to depart alive."

Of course modern Christianity has, under sustained and profound attack from secular humanist, withdrawn from not only the implementation of the punishment of apostasy but repudiated in its entirety the Canon law.

As said earlier, the Christian critic of Islam can believe what he chooses but he must label the same charges of barbarity and cruelty at church history and profound fathers of the church (like John Calvin), a failure to do so is double standard; hypocrisy is heretical before God or man.
As for secular humanists and "secular Muslims", perhaps we may in future devote sufficient rebuttals to their criticisms.

But as for Meriam Yahya Ibrahim or to use her ‘Muslim' name, Adraf Al Hadi Mohammed Abdullah, I believe she ought not to be killed, this is because her argument holds personally that she was given birth to and raised a Christian.

The law of apostasy remains in Islam and is a law for Muslims not Christians or people of other faith, let her live.

 

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