PRESS RELEASE ON APOSTASY TRIAL IN AFGHANISTAN

 

We reproduce below a Press Release by AAIIL(USA) regarding the apostasy trial of Mr. Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan.  The Press Release has been very well received by media outlets, internet discussion forums and individuals interested in world affairs.  Internet resource sites such as encyclopedia.com and infoplease.com also provide links to the Press Release, which furthers our goal of educating non-Muslims about the true principles of Islam and correcting misunderstood beliefs held by Muslims themselves. 

 

 

March 24, 2006

For Immediate Release

 

In Islam, “There is No Compulsion in Religion”:

AAIIL(USA) Comments on the Apostasy Trial in Afghanistan.

 

Columbus, Ohio, USA: AAIIL(USA), the U.S. branch of the worldwide Islamic organization The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, appeals to the Afghan government as well as Muslims internationally to practically demonstrate that Islam is a religion of peace and humanity by denouncing the view that according to Islam apostasy is a crime punishable by death.

 

“Although a mandatory death sentence for apostasy may be found in other religious scriptures, for example Deuteronomy 13:6-10, the Holy Quran does not prescribe any punishment for apostasy”, says Dr. Noman Malik, Treasurer of AAIIL(USA).

 

The subject of apostasy is referred to several times in the Quran (16:106, 2:117, 3:85-89, 5:54, etc.) but neither is death nor any other punitive measure imposed.  On the contrary, the Holy Quran mandates unqualified religious freedom by declaring: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256), “The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe, and let him who please        disbelieve” (18:29), “We have shown him the way, he may be thankful or unthankful” (76:3), etc.

 

Dr. Mohammad Ahmad, President of AAIIL(USA) explains: “Much of the confusion surrounding the punishment for apostasy in Islam is due to a lack of careful study of Hadith reports … upon close examination, these reports reveal that any apostate that was killed by the Muslims was either actively fighting the Muslims or was an enemy in war.”

 

Attorney Fazeel S. Khan, Secretary of AAIIL(USA) further explains: “Just as treason is a crime under the United States Constitution, the offender of which ‘shall suffer death’ according to Congress, so too does Islam allow the administering of capital punishment on those who desert Muslim troops, join enemy forces, and fight against a Muslim nation … it is the ‘act’ of military desertion during wartime coupled with aiding the enemy that is punishable under Islamic law, not the mere change in one’s religious ‘belief’.”

 

It is axiomatic that the punishment of death for apostasy as accepted under current sharia law finds no sanction in the Holy Quran.  It is equally clear that the sources of tradition cited as the basis for this practice are misapplied; the incidents therein concern crimes of treason and treachery, not simple apostasy.  AAIIL(USA) implores the Afghan authorities to apply these facts to its analysis of what “contravene[s] the tenets and provisions of Islam”, as stipulated in Article III of its Constitution, and, accordingly, declare the case against Mr. Rahman is dismissed on the basis that freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are not in contravention with the principles of Islam.

 

For more information about the controversial subject of apostasy in Islam, please read Jihad in Islam, a chapter from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s world-renowned book The Religion of Islam, available online at: http://www.muslim.org/bookspdf/jihadinislam.pdf.  To learn about the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, visit www.muslim.org. 

 

Contact:  Samina Malik, Vice-President, AAIIL(USA); [email protected]; (614) 873-1030

 

 

In response to the Press Release, the popular blog “OH!PINION”, providing a forum for thoughtful commentary on ideas, events, people and policies shaping our world, posted an article entitled “U.S. Muslims say apostasy not capital offense”.  Some of the comments in the article include:

The U.S. affiliate of a worldwide Muslim organization begs to differ with its Afghan brothers about death being the prescribed penalty for those who leave the faith.”

“According to AAIIL(USA), which is part of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, only people who leave Islam and end up fighting members of their former faith deserve the death penalty. And then, AAIIL(USA) maintains, the wrongdoing is treason, not apostasy.”

“We hope the humane and well-meaning folks at AAIIL(USA) will be able to get through to the Afghan clerics and others who all but had poor Abdul Rahman’s neck in a noose. If a big chunk of the civilized world had not gotten in their way, Rahman would surely be a goner by now.”

“Perhaps it would be helpful for the U.S. government to provide roundtrip airfare and per diem for AAIIL(USA) representatives to go talk to the Afghans. They probably wouldn’t change all the minds that need changing, but they might plant some helpful seeds.”

The Press Release has also been cited and quoted by individuals, interestingly primarily non-Muslims, defending Islam and Muslims from sweeping generalizations on discussion forums.  In response to an article entitled “Christians still persecuted in Muslim countries” and subsequent comments by posters attacking Islam for the suggested intolerant principles it advocates, a contributor by the name of Steve, argued back: “But the Koran doesn’t call for the death of apostates” and provided a link to the Press Release displayed on the U.S. Newswire website.  Similarly, in the internet discussion forum “PakTribune.com”, while discussing radical versus moderate views on apostasy, an American by the name of Michelle L. Zewe contributed to the discussion by copying the Press Release in full. 

 

E-mails from individuals wanting to comment on the Press Release were also received.  One such e-mail, in pertinent part, stated:

 

With much respect I address you,

 

… I am encouraged that you took this action, it is a beginning. I am SURE that, that newswire was very difficult and required MUCH courage to release. It surely puts you at odds with 90% of the Muslims in the Middle East and will have them publicly deriding you. It is a start and hopefully will be looked at and followed by other peaceful, courageous people of the Muslim faith. If others with courage, who are of a peaceful mind as you, follow your lead and begin denouncing those who misapply, misread and out and out lie about what is contained between the covers of the Holy Quran, there is hope. If the courageous do not speak up, the fanatic criminals will surely dismantle your religion from the inside, slowly having public opinion rising to a crescendo of intolerance and outright outrage about the way those who represent the Muslim religion are behaving.

 

It is our desire that the Press Release, as small a contribution that it is, may play a part in informing the public at large of the peaceful, tolerant, rational and inspiring nature of Islam.  The responses received thus far are very encouraging.