Why Is The Apostate To Be Executed In
Islam? Find It Difficult To Comprehend How A Man Can
Be Sentenced To Death For Speaking Against God
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
As a non Muslim, I find myself Intrigued and
attracted to your faith. However, I find it difficult
to comprehend how a man can be sentenced to death for
speaking( Salman Rushdie). I would have thought that
we as humans do not have that right to make those
decisions, only god can?
Praise be to Allaah.
We thank you for your confidence in us and for sending
this question to us, and we appreciate your being
intrigued by our beliefs and your eagerness to find
out the answer. We welcome you as a visitor and reader
What stood out from your letter is that you are
impressed with the religion of Islam. This is a good
sign for us and for you. We are happy for our religion
to reach people like you who are seeking for the
truth. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) told us that this religion would reach all
places on this earth. It was narrated that Tameem al-Daari
said: "I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: This matter
(i.e., Islam) will certainly reach everywhere that
night and day reach, and Allaah will not leave any
house or tent [i.e., all dwellings, in towns and in
the desert], but Allaah will cause this religion to
enter it, and some people will be honoured because of
it [by converting] and others will be humiliated
because of it [for refusing to embrace it], and they
will be ruled by the Muslims, an honour which Allaah
will bestow on Islam and a humiliation which He will
inflict on kufr (disbelief)."
(Narrated by Ahmad, 16344; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani
in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 3).
In your case, your admiration for Islam will motivate
you to find out what this pure monotheistic religion
teaches, and how it is in accordance with sound human
nature and common sense. We advise you to avoid
completely and preconceptions that may influence you
and take your time in reading about the teachings of
the Islamic religion. Perhaps you could read material
on this site about Islam, such as questions no. 219,
21613, 20756, 10590.
With regard to your question, "However, I find it
difficult to comprehend how a man can be sentenced to
death for speaking. I would have thought that we as
humans do not have that right to make those decisions,
only god can" what you say is correct, because
no-one has the right to condemn another person to
death without evidence from the Book of Allaah and the
Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him).
The ruling of execution because of a word that
somebody utters is what the Muslim scholars call al-riddah
(apostasy). What is apostasy and what constitutes
apostasy? What is the ruling on the apostate (al-murtadd)?
1 Riddah (apostasy) refers to when a Muslim becomes
a disbeliever by saying a clear statement to that
effect, or by uttering words which imply that (i.e.,
which imply kufr or disbelief), or he does something
that implies that (i.e., an action which implies kufr
2 What constitutes apostasy
The matters which constitute apostasy are divided into
(a) Apostasy in beliefs, such as associating others
with Allaah, denying Him, or denying an attribute
which is proven to be one of His attributes, or by
affirming that Allaah has a son. Whoever believes that
is an apostate and a disbeliever.
(b) Apostasy in words, such as insulting Allaah or the
Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
(c) Apostasy in actions, such as throwing the Qur'an
into a filthy place, because doing that shows
disrespect towards the words of Allaah, so it is a
sign that one does not believe. Other such actions
include prostrating to an idol or to the sun or moon.
(d) Apostasy by omission, such as not doing any of the
rituals of Islam, or turning away from following it
3 What is the ruling on the apostate?
If a Muslim apostatizes and meets the conditions of
apostasy i.e., he is of sound mind, an adult and
does that of his own free will then his blood may be
shed with impunity. He is to be executed by the Muslim
ruler or by his deputy such as the qaadi or judge,
and he is not to not be washed (after death, in
preparation for burial), the funeral prayer is not to
be offered for him and he is not to be buried with the
The evidence that the apostate is to be executed is
the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him): "Whoever changes his religion,
execute him." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2794). What is
meant by religion here is Islam (i.e., whoever changes
from Islam to another religion).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) said: "It is not permissible to shed the blood of
a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god except
Allaah and that I am His Messenger, except in one of
three cases: a soul for a soul (i.e., in the case of
murder); a married man who commits adultery; and one
who leaves his religion and splits form the jamaa'ah
(main group of Muslims)." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari,
6878; Muslim, 1676)
See al-Mawsoo'ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 22/180.
Thus it will be clear to you that execution of the
apostate is something that is commanded by Allaah,
when he commanded us to obey the Messenger (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him), as He says
(interpretation of the meaning):
"O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger
(Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in
And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) has commanded us to execute the
apostate as in the hadeeth quoted above: "Whoever
changes his religion, execute him."
It may need some time for you to be convinced about
this matter, and for you to think about it. Perhaps
you think that if a person follows the truth and
enters into it and embraces the one true religion
which Allaah has enjoined, then we allow him to leave
it quite easily whenever he wants and to utter the
words of kufr (disbelief) that put him outside of
Islam, so he can reject Allaah, His Messenger, His
Books and His religion, and there is no punishment as
deterrent, how will that affect him and others who
enter the religion?
Do you not see that this would make the one true
religion, that everyone should follow, like a shop or
store which a person can enter when he wants and leave
when he wants, and it may encourage others to forsake
Moreover, this is not someone who has never known the
truth and practiced it and worshipped in accordance
with it; rather this is a person who has known the
truth, and practiced the religion and done the rituals
of worship, so the punishment is no greater than he
deserves. Moreover, such strong rulings as this are
only applied to such a person whose life is no longer
considered to be useful, because he knew the truth and
followed the religion, then he left it and forsook it.
What soul can be more evil than the soul of such a
In conclusion, the answer is that Allaah is the One
Who revealed this religion and enjoined it. He is the
One Who ruled that the one who enters it and then
leaves it is to be executed. This ruling does not come
from the Muslims' ideas or suggestions. As this is the
case, then we must follow the ruling of Allaah so long
as we are content to accept Him as our Lord and God.
May Allaah help us and you to do that which He loves
and which pleases Him. We thank you once again.
Peace be upon those who follow true guidance.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid