Correspondence: Punishment of Apostasy

The Light (Pakistan), 15th June 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 13, p. 3)

My Dear, Mr. Editor,

The Light, in its issue of 1st May 1922, contains an article, “For the consideration of the Paris Conference” by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, where Khawaja Sahib has dealt with the problem that apostasy in Islam is not meted with the penalty of death.

In his favour, he has quoted two verses from the Quran which show that an apostate will die an infidel and have his punish­ment in the next world:

“They shall be the companions of the hellfire” [The Holy Quran, 5:10],

but in this world and the world to come

“his works shall be fruitless” [The Holy Quran, 2:217].

But we see a different case in the life and the Khilafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr [rta] when, immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet [pbuh], a lot of Arabs turned back to their old religion and are known as apostates, and which certainly mean apostates in Islam but the treatment with them by the Khalifa was quite different than related by Khwaja Sahib. Those apostates were persecuted by Abu Bakr [rta] and his general, namely Khalid-bin-Walid [rta].

In history, no other cause for the persecu­tion of these people is related than this that they were apostates. If even the maximum punish­ment of apostasy in Islam is not death, how could a man like Abu Bakr [rta] order a death warrant for these apostates? It may be said that before their persecution they were asked to return to Islam and thus secure safety and because they did not accept Islam therefore were put to death. But, again, here comes the Quranic verse:

“No compulsion in religion” (The Holy Quran, 2:256).

If they did not like to accept Islam, the Khalifa [rta] was by no means allowed to wage war against them and thus compel them to accept Islam.

I fail to understand their problem. Either Khwaja Sahib has overlooked the historic facts or the Khalifa [rta] violated the rule (both of which are impossible to me.)

Will you please bring the real facts to light and remove this dilemma by writing an article in The Light? The article should be sufficiently long to make the thing clear and not a two-lined answer as you publish in answer to questions.

Yours faithfully,
Ahmid Husain

Response from the Editor of The Light:

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din has quoted the verses of the Holy Quran on this subject in his article referred to by the correspondent, and the verdict of the Holy Book is binding for every Muslim.

As regards the action of Hazrat Abu Bakr [rta], it may be noted that it was a political measure as the Arabs rose in rebellion against the Muslim Govern­ment and refused to pay the taxes. I hope this reply will suffice.

The Light