Monday, April 30, 2007

I need to keep this article for my references

28/04: Apostasy – listening to the silent voice
Category: General
Posted by: Raja Petra
GUEST COLUMNISTSBy Farouk A. PeruThe issue of apostasy is very serious in Malaysia. Nothing brings out our Malay-Muslims onto the streets in droves more so than the news that one of us has left Islam. Social malaise like the phenomena of the bohsia and bohjan (immoral boys and girls), corruption, racist rants against other races or even sumbang-mahram (incest) can’t provoke us to take to the streets like apostasy can.Strangely enough, in the discourse regarding apostasy, the one source which I find silent – or perhaps silenced – is The Quran. Rather what we find are notions of ‘menghina Islam’ (insulting Islam) and various rehashes on this theme without ever relying on the Quran. Here we must applaud the four imams of the schools of jurisprudence who selflessly declared that any law in contradiction to the Quran must be discarded. I salute their appreciation of Islam’s fluidity. The Quran tells us that ‘there is no compulsion in the deen’ (Al-baqarah, 256). The upholders of the apostasy law have responded by saying that this only applies to the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam, in which there is no compulsion. I believe that they have overlooked certain things in coming to that conclusion, namely:a. There is no exceptional clause ‘illa’ (except). Had God wished, he would have clearly said that there is compulsion for Muslims as an exception to the ‘no compulsion’ rule. b. Although the Quran uses the word ‘tadkhul’ (enter) in other places such as Al-Baqarah 208 (udkhuloo fissilmi kaafah/enter into Islam holistically) it does not use that phraseology in this verse. c. Although the Quran uses the word ‘irtidad’ (ridda, turning back, from which the word ‘murtad’ is derived) it never uses it in this verse. From here, we can see that when the Quran states that ‘there is no compulsion in the deen’ it’s an unqualified statement. There are no exceptional clauses and any words which could have been used to set any exceptions to this law are conspicuously absent. Therefore, we must conclude that there is a total and absolute lack of compulsion in the deen. The rest of this verse also confirms thus when it says: guidance stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects excessive authorities and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks....showing that faith is something active where one has to reject excessive gods and believe. This is a conscious process which people who do not believe will not undertake. What about people who leave off belief?Anyone who, after accepting faith in God, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from God, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.(An-Nahl, 106)From here we can see that, even though elsewhere in the Quran are commands to fight certain parties who commit crimes, the command to do so is missing from this verse. It is God who judges those who choose to reject faith.This is clearly confirmed by this next verse:Those who believe, then reject faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject faith, and go on increasing in unbelief,- God will not forgive them nor guide them nor guide them on the way (An-Nisaa, 137)How is it possible for a person to oscillate between belief and disbelief if there is no freedom in the deen? Firaun – The CompellerIronically, the one who displays compulsive behaviour in the Quran is none other than the enemy of God – Firaun, who says a number of things to that effect:(Pharaoh) said: “Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! Be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!” (Ta-Ha, 71)So Firaun adamantly attaches the emergence of belief to his permission, conjecturing that it’s something artificial, to which one has to give permission for. Isn’t this the same compulsive disposition which makes us react to people who wish to leave Islam? That they wish to inflict punishment on people for not believing when belief is something inward and not artificial?Said Pharaoh: “Leave me to slay Moses; and let him call on his Lord! What I fear is lest he should change your religion, or lest he should cause mischief to appear in the land (Ghafir, 26)Again Firaun displays the quality of fear with regards to Musa’s religion. His system depends on the compelling of people to adhere to this system. For the believers, they are said to have no fear (Yunus, 62)The claim of Al-Baqarah 217 and An-Nisaa 89Some scholars have interpreted Al-Baqarah 217 which ends with ‘and who returns from you from his religion, so he dies and he is disbelieving, so those wasted/failed their doings/works in the present world and (in) the end (other life), and those are the owners/company (of) the fire, they are in it immortally/eternally’ as an instruction to kill apostates. How can one accept this interpretation when the Quran – although it uses the words punishment (azab), kill (aqtul), harb (war) and other commands to aggress where appropriate – never alludes let alone advocates any action from the Muslims?The other verse which has been interpreted to invoke an apostasy law is An-Nisaa, 89 which states: They wished/loved if you disbelieve, as they disbelieved, so you become equal/alike. So do not take from them allies, until they emigrate in God’s sake, so if they turned away, so take/punish them and fight/kill them, where/when you found them, and do not take from them an ally , and nor a supporter/saviorIt’s a pity that those exegetes who interpreted this failed to see the very next verse which states:Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people.This verse is definitely not about people who leave Islam or stopped believing but rather about people who although have no love for Islam, do have a treaty between them and the Muslims. The reliance on numbersI often hear Muslims speak proudly of their growing numbers in the world, how there are 1.2 billion of them and Islam is the fastest growing religion. Perhaps this is what emotes them when they find people who wish to leave. The Quran however does not teach such a mentality:Assuredly Allah did help you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunain: Behold! your great numbers elated you, but they availed you naught: the land, for all that it is wide, did constrain you, and ye turned back in retreat (At-Taubaa, 25)From here we can see that it’s not the numbers which makes the Islamic struggle fruitful. Another verse goes:If ye help not (your leader), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”…(At-Taubaa, 40)This is a great lesson to learn from the Messenger’s pattern of behaviour. He had faith in God even in a situation where he only had one companion. Yet Another verse tells us:Abraham was indeed nation unto himself, devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah’ (An-Nahl, 120)So Prophet Ibrahim is said to be an ummah unto himself. This is the power of pure faith as Ibrahim is always described as ‘a fully-inclined Muslim, never was he an associator’.There is little doubt in my mind that there are parties in the world who wish to disparage the Muslims in order to find support for their own nefarious ends. There are information centres who purposely bend and even break the truth to do this. Muslims have enough real problems to deal with without creating artificial ones like apostasy. It is God in His wisdom to not only not set a law against apostasy, but also to declare that such an mentality of control is anathematic to Islam. We can see this from the fact that it is Firaun who carries such an attitude, not the Muslims. Muslims should rely upon the quality of individuals who are contributive to the betterment of world. This contributiveness was present in early Arab-Islamic history but is missing now. Perhaps when Muslims regain that position, they will see that it’s really not about the numbers of the faithful, but the faith in those numbers.


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