Muhammad said: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). 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.
Yet Muslim spokesmen such as Harris Zafar, Mustafa Akyol, Salam al-Marayati, M. Cherif Bassiouni, and Ali Eteraz (among many others) have assured us that Islam doesn’t punish apostasy and condemned those who point out that it does as bigots and “Islamophobes.” So are Zafar, Akyol, al-Marayati, Bassiouni, and Eteraz on their way to Somalia as we speak, so as to explain to the Muslim clerics who are denouncing Abisaid Abdi Ismail that they are misunderstanders of Islam? Akyol made a reasonably good statement recently; where are the others?
“Man sentenced to death in Mauritania for apostasy,” AFP, December 25, 2014:
Nouakchott – A Muslim man in Mauritania was sentenced to death for apostasy on Wednesday after a court ruled that he had written something blasphemous, a judicial source told AFP.
Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, who is around 30 years old, fainted when the ruling was read out late on Wednesday in a court in Nouadhibou in the northwest of the country, the source said on condition of anonymity.
He was revived and taken to prison, the source added.
Mohamed has been detained since 2 January and pleaded not guilty to the charge when proceedings opened on Tuesday.
Mauritania has the death penalty but has not executed anyone since 1987, according to human rights organisation Amnesty International.
During the hearing the judge told Mohamed that he was accused of apostasy “for speaking lightly of the Prophet Mohammed” in an article which was published briefly on Mauritanian websites. In it he challenged some of the prophet’s actions, the source told AFP.
Mohamed explained that it was “not his intention to harm the prophet”, the source added.
His lawyer asked for leniency as he said his client was repentant but the judge agreed to the prosecutor’s request for the death penalty.
Sharia, or Islamic, law is in effect in Mauritania but the enforcement of strict punishments — such as floggings — have been rare since the 1980s.