A recent episode of the BBC program The Big Questions was anomalous: instead of pumping out more of the usual fog of obfuscation and denial regarding the aspects of Islamic law incompatible with Western standards of human rights and human dignity — as do most BBC shows — it actually featured an honest discussion of Islam’s death penalty for apostasy.
Or it would have, that is, if the Muslim spokesmen on the show had been remotely honest about that penalty. Instead, they offered an instructive case study in how Islamic supremacists deal with uncomfortable aspects of Islam when speaking with infidels.
Despite denials from Muslims in the West, Islam’s death penalty for those who leave the faith is abundantly established.
The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated:
The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.
There is only disagreement over whether the law applies only to men, or to women also — some authorities hold that apostate women should not be killed, but only imprisoned in their houses until death.
The BBC program begins with ex-Muslim Amal Farah of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) and several Muslim spokesmen discussing Islamic law’s death penalty for apostasy. Farah, despite her affiliation with CEMB — which is often more concerned with smearing and demonizing genuine critics of jihad terror and Islamic supremacism than with actually defending apostates from Islam — is the one sane and rational voice in the discussion.
The Muslim spokesmen, by contrast, practice various forms of evasion and deflection, claiming victim status repeatedly. Abdullah al-Andalusi of the ironically named Muslim Debate Initiative is the worst, ascribing Islam’s death penalty for apostasy to “Victorian translations,” claiming that it is only a law in “post-colonial secular states,” and pouting that the BBC is conducting an “Inquisition court.” Note also how he dodges the question of whether or not he condemns the words of UK imam Haitham al-Haddad, who has defended the death penalty for apostasy.
After that, Usama Hasan, author of The Way of the Prophet: A Selection of Hadith, comes across as honest and forthright, but in reality, his obfuscation is just more sophisticated than al-Andalusi’s. He claims that the apostasy law is a product of the early Muslim states, never mentioning what the author of a hadith collection should know and undoubtedly does know: that according to a hadith, Muhammad said:
Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him (Bukhari 9.84.57).
This distinction is important, because if the death penalty for apostasy comes from the early Muslim states, it can be changed, but if it comes from Muhammad, the supreme example of conduct for Muslims (cf. Qur’an 33:21), it can’t.
Finally there is Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, who claims that “we believe in religious freedom. People are free to leave Islam.” Then he is exposed as having branded as a “defamer of the prophet” the professional moderate Maajid Nawaz for tweeting a Muhammad cartoon — a term that carries the death penalty in Pakistan. He backpedals here, while insisting that he was right to “defend” Muhammad.
The yawning absence here is that of a Muslim voice who will simply acknowledge that Islam has a death penalty for apostasy and say that it has to be reconsidered and reformed. There are no such voices. Instead, it’s the same as always: claims of victimization, deflection, blaming of the infidels, claims of hatred for Muslims — the usual responses we have seen thousands of times from Muslims in response to critics of jihad terror.