A couple of days ago the New York Times published a piece by Edward Luttwak, wondering if President Barack Obama would face rage in the Muslim world for being an apostate from Islam — I posted about it here.
I disagree with Luttwak on two points. First, it isn’t clear that Obama is an apostate at all, according to the stipulations of Islamic law. If he left Islam before puberty, or was never a professing Muslim at all (despite his school registration), the death penalty wouldn’t apply. Also, as I explained here well over a year ago, it is much more likely that Obama’s Muslim background will make him a hero, not a pariah, in the Islamic world — and in the intervening year that has indeed proven to be the case.
But Luttwak was entirely correct in stating that “with few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress…” Predictably enough, however, this brought him the ire of the enlightened. Ingrid Mattson of the unindicted co-conspirator ISNA scolded him self-righteously in the New York Times letters section (thanks to Twostellas): “Like the Jewish legal tradition, Islamic law is a conversation represented in dynamic and diverse schools of thought. Edward N. Luttwak speaks of an essentialized Islamic law that does not exist.” Another Times letter-writer warned that “it would be wiser to allow the global Muslim community to arrive at its own consensus as to his status, rather than follow the dire prediction of an outsider interpreting Islamic law.” And the unblinkingly dishonest Ali Eteraz chided Luttwak (whose name he consistently misspelled) at HuffPo for being among the “fake experts” who “do not understand Islam.” He didn’t come out and say that the schools of Islamic law do not mandate death for apostates (although he veered close to doing so at his blog), but he quibbled that Luttwak was unaware that only the state authority could carry out the death sentence. Technically, that’s true, although since the schools of Islamic law also stipulate that there is no punishment for killing an apostate, it isn’t as if a vigilante who decided to administer the death penalty to an apostate of his own accord would find himself in a heap of trouble in a Sharia state.
Anyway, confirmation that Luttwak is correct comes today from the Maldives. An Islamic cleric, heedless of all this Obama controversy and indifferent to or unaware of the practice of Islamic apologists in the West (after all, he is way out in the Maldives) of denying the existence of the elements of Islam that make non-Muslims feel uncomfortable, has blandly reaffirmed that Sharia calls for the death of apostates. Watch for Ingrid Mattson to scold him for speaking of “an essentialized Islamic law that does not exist.” Watch for Ali Eteraz to call him a “fake expert.”
But don’t watch too closely. In this case it will be as it always is: when Muslims speak this way, their moderate Western brethren say nothing. Their ire is reserved for the non-Muslims who dare to quote people like Sheikh Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari. Eteraz or Mattson or Omer Subhani or some enlightened soul will probably rake me over the coals for this very post soon enough.
“Apostasy Punishable By Death: Top Adhaalath Scholar,” by Judith Evans in Minivan News, May 13 (thanks to Arabiguitar):
The leader of the religious Adhaalath party scholars” council has said he advocates the death penalty for those who convert from Islam to another religion, as well as amputation of hands for certain types of theft.
In an interview with Minivan News, Sheikh Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari emphasised the need for “advice” and correct legal procedures before the death penalty is implemented, but said Shari”ah law ultimately requires the killing of those who leave Islam.
Majeed was also a member of the government’s Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs until he resigned at the start of May under the Civil Service Act, which forbids civil servants to engage in political activity. […]
Apostates — those who leave the Islamic religion — “must not be punished by the public,” Majeed said, and must initially be offered “advice, and the opportunity to come back to Islam again”.
If the individual concerned fails to return to Islam, he said, “correct legal procedures” must then be followed.
And he emphasises the scholarly debate over punishments for apostasy — also citing the example of the Prophet’s life, during which no apostates were punished with death. But, Majeed adds, this was arguably because converts to different religions fled to other areas.
Majeed also cites Surah 2, verse 256 of the Qur’an, which states that “there is no compulsion in religion.” And he highlights the issue of munafiq — those who pretend to have faith, but do not — who must in practice be treated as Muslims.
But despite this, he says, apostasy is one of three offences that must be punished by death, along with adultery (by those already married) and murder.
Asked whether Maldivian law is currently in keeping with Shari”ah, Majeed is definite: it is not.
As an example, he cites the crime of theft. Under the current legislative system, he says, burglary, mugging — theft with an element of direct threat — and stealing via fraud are all similarly classified.
But “in Islamic Shari”ah, they are three different things,” he says. The punishment for theft, in the sense of burglary — where the victim of the theft is not present — must be “cutting the hand”, though certain other conditions also apply.
For instance, the stolen object must be “valuable”. And theft made necessary by the thief’s “hunger” is exempt.
“Conflicts in society” result from the current legal system, he believes. “There would be peace if the country was practising Islamic Shari”ah.”…