True Conception of the Ahmadiyya Movement
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Ahmadiyyat and the Killing of Apostates
Islam believes neither in forced conversion nor keeping anybody within Islam at the point of sword. A general misconception prevails among Muslims that those who renounce Islam should be immediately put to death. This means that in a Muslim state if a Muslim goes over to another religion he can do so only at the risk of his life which implies that a sword is hung over the head of every Muslim to keep him in the fold of Islam. Ahmadiyyat made it clear that it is neither lawful to convert a person to Islam by force nor to keep him Muslim under the threat of sword. The firm principle of the Quran:
“There is no compulsion in religion”,1
applies under both the conditions with equal force. That is to say, if a person wants to come over to Islam from unbelief or wants to go over to unbelief from Islam, in either case, no force and threat can be used against him. The mistake committed by our Jurists was that when someone after recanting Islam murdered a Muslim and he was sentenced to death by the Holy Prophet for his crime they did not care to differentiate that this punishment was given to him for the murder and not for apostasy. Similarly, anybody who deserted Islam and joined the hostile forces during the time of war was liable to be punished with death. The chief reason for such an action against him might not have been apostasy but his treachery and going over to the enemy’s camp. Instances of mere apostasy or changing of one’s religion have been referred to in the Quran but the punishment of death was never recommended for them. On the contrary, it was also not always necessary to wage war against such persons. For instance, in chapter The Woman2 certain apostates have been mentioned who did not fight against Muslims, and Muslims were also enjoined not to fight against them. In another chapter, The Family of Amran, the plans of the Jews of Medinah have been exposed who wanted to dishearten Muslims by accepting Islam in the morning and denouncing it in the evening.3 If apostates were put to death the carrying out of such a plan was impossible. At another place, it is mentioned that if anybody renounced Islam, the religion of God would not be weakened. If a person turned back from his religion, Allah would bring a party to Islam instead.4 The Quranic commandments and the historical records make this point clear that mere apostasy was not punishable with death. In this age, it is Ahmadiyyat which has clarified this issue and has thus removed the stain from the beautiful face of Islam that it could only maintain and spread itself at the point of sword or that it had no spiritual force to keep itself alive.