Quran (4:89) – “They wish that you should reject faith as they reject faith, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.” Verse 4:65 says that those who have faith are in “full submission” to Muhammad’s teachings. This verse explains what should happen to Muslims who do not have faith.
Quran (9:11-12) – “But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail Our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief – Lo! they have no binding oaths – in order that they may desist.”
Other verses that seem to support the many Hadith that establish the death sentence for apostates are Quran verses 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, 9:66.
Hadith and Sira
The most reliable Hadith collection contain numerous accounts of Muhammad and his companions putting people to death for leaving Islam. According to verse 4:80 of the Quran: “Those who obey the Messenger obey Allah.”
Sahih Bukhari (52:260) – “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “
Sahih Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”
Sahih Bukhari (84:57) – [In the words of] “Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”
Sahih Bukhari (89:271) – A man who embraces Islam, then reverts to Judaism is to be killed according to “the verdict of Allah and his apostle.”
Sahih Bukhari (84:58) – “There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu’adh asked, ‘Who is this (man)?’ Abu Muisa said, ‘He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.’ Then Abu Muisa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, ‘I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice.’ Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, ‘Then we discussed the night prayers'”
Sahih Bukhari (84:64-65) – “Allah’s Apostle: ‘During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.'” This verse from the Hadith is worse than it appears because it isn’t speaking solely of apostates, but those who say they believe but don’t put their religion into practice.
Sahih Bukhari (11:626) – “The Prophet said, ‘No prayer is harder for the hypocrites than the Fajr and the ‘Isha’ prayers and if they knew the reward for these prayers at their respective times, they would certainly present themselves (in the mosques) even if they had to crawl.’ The Prophet added, ‘Certainly I decided to order the Mu’adh-dhin (call-maker) to pronounce Iqama and order a man to lead the prayer and then take a fire flame to burn all those who had not left their houses so far for the prayer along with their houses’.”
Abu Dawud (4346) – “Was not there a wise man among you who would stand up to him when he saw that I had withheld my hand from accepting his allegiance, and kill him?” Muhammad is chastising his companions for allowing an apostate to “repent” under duress. (The person in question was Muhammad’s former scribe, who left him after doubting the authenticity of divine “revelations” – upon finding out that grammatical changes could be made. He was brought back to Muhammad after having been captured in Medina).
al-Muwatta of Imam Malik (36.18.15) – “The Messenger of Allah said, “If someone changes his religion – then strike off his head.”
Reliance of the Traveller (Islamic Law) o8.1 – “When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed.” (o8.4 affirms that there is no penalty for killing an apostate).
There is also a consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafii), as well as classical Shiite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death. The process of declaring a person to be an apostate is known as takfir and the disbeliever is called a murtad.
Averroes (d. 1198), the renowned philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist, provided this typical Muslim legal opinion on the punishment for apostasy: “An apostate…is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet, ‘Slay those who change their din [religion]’…Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated as a condition…prior to his execution.”
The contemporary (i.e., 1991) Al-Azhar (Cairo) Islamic Research Academy endorsed manual of Islamic Law, Umdat al-Salik (pp. 595-96) states: “Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst…. When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory…to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.”
The OIC’s Sharia-based Cairo Declaration is transparent in its rejection of freedom of conscience in Article 10:
“Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to convert him to another religion, or to atheism.” Ominously, articles 19 and 22 reiterate a principle stated elsewhere throughout the document, which clearly applies to the “punishment” of so-called “apostates” from Islam: “[19d] There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Sharia.; [22a] Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Sharia.; [22b] Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Sharia.; [22c] Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.”
From Andrew Bostom’s CAIR’s Silence on Pastor’s Apostasy Death Sentence is Deafening
In 2012, the website, Islam QA, offered a studied defense of killing apostates and “enemies of Islam” which was captured by Jihad Watch: Apostates from Islam and Those Who Wage War Verbally on Islam Must be Put to Death
While the rest of the world generally believes that if God wanted people dead over their religious beliefs then he would do the job himself, apostasy is taken so seriously by Muslims that it spawned the first of many serious internal wars.
Immediately after Muhammad’s death, several tribes wanted to leave Islam and return to their preferred religion. In a conflict known as the Riddah (apostasy) Wars, they were slaughtered in such places recalled as “Garden of Death” and “Gulley of Blood” during the first caliph Abu Bakr’s aggressive and violent campaign to force submission (and keep the tribute payments flowing back to Mecca, of course). Within months, a great many people were dead, including Muslims who had memorized the Quran by heart.
As Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s closest companion, explained in a letter at the time, his prophet “struck whoever turned his back to Him until he came to Islam, willingly or grudgingly.” Thus did Abu Bakr promise to “burn them with fire, slaughter them by any means, and take women and children captive” any who left Islam. (al-Tabari v10 p.55-57)
Ali, the fourth “Rightly Guided Caliph” was Muhammad’s son-in-law and one of the first converts to Islam. He also had people burned alive for wanting to follow their conscience. An old man named Rumahis b. Mansur, who regretted leaving Christianity and vowed not to remain a Muslim, was quickly beheaded by Ali. (al-Tabari v.17 p.191).
In 1400 years, there has never been a system of Islamic law that did not prescribe the death penalty for Muslims choosing to leave Islam. Even in modern, ostensibly secular Islamic countries with constitutions “guaranteeing” freedom of religion, there is de facto enforcement of this law with intimidation and the vigilante murder of apostates.
A sound philosophy never requires violence or threats to retain believers. Contemporary Muslim apologists sometimes find it embarrassing that their religion – and theirs alone – endorses killing someone over a mere change in opinion (as critic Geert Wilders puts it, “Any religion that invites you in but then will not let you out is no longer a religion”). As such there are various tricks played to deny or explain away this weak and draconian which is so well-ensconced in Islamic tradition.
Such defenders usually quote verse 2:256 to Western audiences. The verse states “Let there be no compulsion in religion, for truth stands out from error.” They may also include a fragment of verse 10:99-100, “Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers?” What they don’t mention is that Muslim scholars agree that both verses were spoken by Muhammad during an earlier time in his teachings, when he did not have the power to compel others. They are abrogated by later verses, such as verse >9:29, which clearly orders Muslims to fight unbelievers until they relent and either convert to Islam or accept a state of humiliation under Islamic rule (an obvious illustration of compulsion).
These apologists also ignore the actions of Muhammad at Mecca and those of his companions following his death, particularly the bloody Ridda Wars. How could those closest to him have felt that there should be “no compulsion in religion” if they were instructed to kill anyone who wanted to leave Islam? How could the mandated killing of apostates have become a part of Islamic law?
The “Religion of Peace” expanded across the globe by conquering people of other religions and then making life miserable for those who didn’t “embrace” Islam. Once spoken, a person was locked into the faith. Any sign of false witness – such as raising their children in another faith – was punished with death. Thus did Islam gradually supplant other religions.
One of the world’s most respected Sunni scholars, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, admitted in 2012 that if Muslims had “gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today”. (Astonishingly enough, he was not apologizing for the beheading, torture, burning and murder of millions but rather trying to rationalize it).
And, while some apologists bend the truth in order to distance Islam from one of its most draconian rules, the world’s most popular Muslim apologist recently affirmed that the death penalty should be applied to those who leave Islam and share their faith with others. (Ironically Zakir Naik made his comments on a British television channel called Peace TV).
In 2016, the Islamic State beheaded a 14-year-old boy in front of his parents for missing prayers. This was consistent with Muhammad’s order to burn those who would not pray (along with their houses), which he issued near the end of his life. When this happened, there was barely a peep of protest from the Muslim world.
At the end of the day, even Muslims who insist that the mandate to kill apostates from Islam isn’t a part of the “true” religion never appear all that bothered when it does happen – much less champion the right of other religions to evangelize in Muslim countries; in fact, they discourage it. They know as well as anyone that Islam cannot compete within the arena of free ideas and must rely on brute force at some level to retain believers.