Lamarti, Samuel Hosain
The development of apostasy and punishment law in Islam 11 AH/632 AD-157 AH/774 AD|.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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As in Judaism and Christianity, the sin of apostasy is strongly condemned as one of the gravest enormities (Ar. ahadu al-kabai'r). In common with them, Islam is clear that the eternal punishment of apostates is sure and certain in the hereafter. But unlike Judaism and Christianity today, Islam is known to go further and condemn them to death in the here and now. Strangely enough, with the exception of Saudia Arabia where Shari'ah is still in force, there is no evidence that apostates are still being executed in other Islamic countries. Yet, any attempt to cancel, abolish or re-interpret the apostasy law has remained virtually impossible. This doctrine is generally held to be an unquestionable axiom of faith as it rests entirely on the prophetic tradition.
Our research attempts to demonstrate from a historical/theological standpoint that the faith and message of early Islam as presented in the Qur'an stands in glaring contrast to this doctrine. The political events of the late Umayyad and early Abbasid periods seem to have provided the fertile soil for the invention of those traditions on which later jurists elaborated a complex set of the rules vis-à-vis the legal status of the apostates. These rules have largely remained to this day unchangeably the same.
Attention should be drawn to the fact that Qur'anic quotations throughout this research work are from the translations of A. Yusuf Al, M. Marmaduke Pickhtall, N.J. Dawood and A. J. Arberry. In some places we felt that some corrections were necessary, and we have been bold enough to make them. This research study has not been an easy task to undertake. The difficulty of this subject could only be matched by the difficulty of finding material literatures relative to it. However, the fruits of our efforts presented in this research work might at least serve as a starting point towards further researches into the origins and development of the punishment of apostasy in Islam.
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