A Sunni Muslim Pronouncement on Apostasy from Lebanon
The “Freedom Pledge” quotes from this pronouncement by the Mufti of Lebanon. The quote from the pledge:
Mufti of Lebanon, Beirut, Fatwa issued 13 November 1989: “Now, should the apostate (male or female) persist in his apostasy, he should be given the opportunity to repent, prior to his being put to death, out of respect for his Islam. A misunderstanding on his part may have taken place, and there would thus be an opportunity to rectify it. Often apostasy takes place on account of an offer (of inducement). So Islam must be presented to the apostate, things should be clarified, and his sin made manifest. He should be imprisoned for three days, so that he may have the opportunity to reflect upon his situation. This three-day period has been deemed adequate. But if the man or the woman has not repented of his or her raddah, but has continued to persist in it, then he or she should be put to death…”*
The full opinion is below. Click here for the source:
Several years ago a Lebanese family in Germany requested official information from the Office of the Mufti in Lebanon regarding the law of apostasy in Islam. The response in Arabic, which the family received, appears at the end of this statement. The translation of the response is as follows:
“In the Name of the Merciful and Compassionate Allah, Dar al-Fatwa in the Republic of Lebanon, Beirut. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe; blessings and peace be upon our Master Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, and upon his Family, his Companions, his Followers and those who have found the way through him.
A question has come: `What is the stand of the Islamic Law regarding the Muslim who has renounced Islam and embraced another religion?’ The answer is, with Allah’s help: Etymologically, raddah (renouncing) means to go back on a thing to something else. As far as religious law is concerned, it means the severing of the continuity of Islam. The murtadd (apostate) is the one who has renounced Islam. The state of raddah (apostasy), should it continue and he die in it, will nullify the value of his work. Such a person will have died outside Islam. This is based on the saying of the Exalted One (i.e., Allah, in the Qur’an): `Those who among you renounce their religion and die as unbelievers, their works would have failed them.’
The loss of the merit of one’s works is linked to two conditions: apostasy, and dying in the state of apostasy. These two conditions are necessary and are not the same. Should the apostate renounce his apostasy and return to Islam, his status would be valid as long as he gave these two testimonies:
- `I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.’
- (The second testimony) should be a clear declaration that he is free from every religion which is contrary to Islam; that he no longer adheres to the faith which had caused him to apostatize; that he is not innocent from the transgression he fell into on account of his apostasy.
The person who renounces his apostasy is not obliged to repeat the performance of everything he had accomplished prior to his apostasy (i.e., while he was still a practicing Muslim), such as the hajj (pilgrimage) and the prayers. His works will no longer be counted as having failed him, now that he has returned to Islam. But he must perform all that he has missed during the raddah and the period leading up to it. For he is still under obligation, (even) while he was in the state of apostasy, to perform all that is required of a Muslim.
Now, should the apostate (male or female) persist in his apostasy, he should be given the opportunity to repent, prior to his being put to death, out of respect for his Islam. A misunderstanding on his part may have taken place, and there would thus be an opportunity to rectify it. Often apostasy takes place on account of an offer (of inducement). So Islam must be presented to the apostate, things should be clarified, and his sin made manifest. He should be imprisoned for three days, so that he may have the opportunity to reflect upon his situation. This three-day period has been deemed adequate. But if the man or the woman has not repented of his or her raddah, but has continued to persist in it, then he or she should be put to death. (This is in harmony with) Muhammad’s saying, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him: `Kill him who changes his religion’, as related by the Hadith authority, al-Bukhari, (in his Hadith collection). He, who executes the apostate, is the imam (ruler or leader in Islam) or, with his permission, his deputy. When a person deserves capital punishment, in accordance with the will of Allah, the carrying out of the penalty is left to the imam or the one he has authorized. But if some person, other than the imam or his deputy, has not abided by this rule and executed the apostate, that person should be punished because he has usurped the function of the imam. This punishment is not specifically described. It is left to the judge to decide the amount of the punishment in order that it will keep people from usurping the role of the imam.
An apostate may not be buried in the cemetery of the Muslims, since by his apostasy he has departed from them.
According to Imam Abu Hanifah, may the mercy of Allah be upon him, the female apostate should not be put to death, but must be imprisoned until she islamizes. Reference is then made to Khatib al-Sharbini, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, and other authorities. Allah knows best. May Allah bless our Master Muhammad, his Family and his Companions. Thanks be to God, the Lord of the universe.”
Beirut, the 14th of Rabi` al-Thani in the year 1410 A.H. 13 November 1989.
Signed: Deputy to the Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon
 A mufti, a skilled legal expert in Shari`a (Muslim canonical law) who issues a legal opinion in the form of a fatwa (Islamic legal pronouncement) in response to a question. Dar al-Fatwa, lit., “the house of pronouncement”.
Click here for the Arabic text of the above Sunni Muslim pronouncement on apostasy.