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Apostasy in Islam: A Historical & Scriptual Analysis

Taha Jabir Al-Alwani




What is the legally prescribed penalty, if any, for apostasy (al-riddah), and how does this relate to the demand for religious tolerance as stipulated in verse 2:256 of the Qur’an “There shall be no compulsion in matters of faith”?


It is an established fact that the Prophet never, in his entire life, put an apostate to death. Yet, the issue remains one of the most controversial to have afflicted the Muslim world down the centuries. It is also the source of much damaging media coverage today as Islamic jurisprudence stands accused of a flagrant disregard for human rights and freedom of expression.


The subject of this book is a highly sensitive and important one. The author rightly concentrates on evidence, to examine the historical origins of the debate in rigorous detail, as well as the many moral and contextual issues surrounding it. Disputing arguments put forward by proponents of the death penalty he contends that both the Qur’an and the Sunnah promote freedom of belief including the act of exiting the Faith and do not support capital punishment for the sin of al-riddah.