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Converts from Islam - Free to choose?

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Converts from Islam - Free to choose?

Country/Region: AFGHANISTAN

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The case of Abdul Rahman, on trial last month in the Afghan capital Kabul for converting from Islam to Christianity, made the international headlines for some days. Both judge and prosecutor stated that, if found guilty, he would face the death sentence in line with the teachings of shari‘a [Islamic law]. Many Western leaders urged that he should be released and the Afghan authorities duly found a pretext for doing so.

The response of other Muslims was more mixed. Senior clerics in Afghanistan said that if the state failed to execute him they would incite the people to murder him – a people who by and large appear to agree that death is appropriate for those who leave Islam. But a number of Muslims in the West have denied the existence of the classic Islamic teaching on apostasy. For example, London-based Mufti Abdul Barkatullah said that the Shafi’i school of Islamic law eschews the death penalty for apostasy. This assertion is so easily refuted from the Shafi’i texts that one can only think the mufti assumes that no non-Muslim would ever bother to check his words.

The classical Shafi‘i manual of law, "‘Umdat al-Salik" [The Reliance of the Traveller] by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (died 1368) is unambiguous on this point. I quote from an English translation by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, published in the USA in 1997:

"8.1 When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatises from Islam, he deserves to be killed.
8.2 In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph 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."

Anwar Ahmad Qadri, a Pakistani lawyer, published "A Sunni Shafi‘i Law Code"
in Pakistan in 1984. This work is a translation of "Mukhtasar fil Risalah"
by the classical Shafi‘i jurist Abu Shuja al-Isfahani (died 1106), and states, including footnotes:

"Art. 113 Rules for Apostates. It is obligatory to ask the person apostatising from the religion of Islam, or on irtidad, (1) to offer taubah three times; then it is good if he did it, otherwise, he shall be killed (2); then, he will neither be given a bath, nor any funeral prayer, and so also, he will not be buried in the graveyard of Muslims.
¹ May be a male or a female, as he or she refuses to accept Allah, or falsifies any of the Prophets or holds as legal the things held haram by consensus or ijma‘.
² If a free man, the imam will kill him but not by burning; if anyone kills him except the imam, he will be punished by ta‘zir; if the apostate is a slave, the master will kill him."

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  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 22 hours ago

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

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