Let alone that Islam does not prescribe death for apostates, the Qur’an was the first religious scripture to categorically declare, “There shall be no compulsion in religion”

Allah SWT says:

Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. And those who disbelieve – their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darknesses. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein. (Qn 2:257)

Likewise, the Qur’an repeatedly states that Muslims, including Prophet Muhammad, can only admonish non-Muslims regarding religious matters

And We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed by permission of Allah . And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad], and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Accepting of repentance and Merciful. (Quran 4:64)

And leave those who take their religion as amusement and diversion and whom the worldly life has deluded. But remind with the Qur’an, lest a soul be given up to destruction for what it earned; it will have other than Allah no protector and no intercessor. And if it should offer every compensation, it would not be taken from it. Those are the ones who are given to destruction for what they have earned. For them will be a drink of scalding water and a painful punishment because they used to disbelieve.Say, “Shall we invoke instead of Allah that which neither benefits us nor harms us and be turned back on our heels after Allah has guided us? [We would then be] like one whom the devils enticed [to wander] upon the earth confused, [while] he has companions inviting him to guidance, [calling], ‘Come to us.’ ” Say, “Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance; and we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of the worlds. Quran 6:70 -71

And follow what is revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and be patient until Allah will judge. And He is the best of judges. (Quran 10:109)

[Noah] said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.” (Quran 11:47)

[50:46] We know best what they say; and thou hast not been appointed to compel them in any way. So admonish, by means of the Qur’an, him who fears My warning.

[88:22-23] Admonish, therefore, for thou art but an admonisher;Thou hast no authority to compel them.

The Qur’an addresses disbelief more than 150 times, yet man is never given authority to punish the disbeliever. If Islam sanctioned death for apostasy, why does the Qur’an address—but never sanction—worldly punishment for the apostate who repeatedly believes and disbelieves ?

[2:218] They ask thee about fighting in the Sacred Month. Say: ‘Fighting therein is a great transgression, but to hinder men from the way of Allah, and to be ungrateful to Him and to hinder men from the Sacred Mosque, and to turn out its people therefrom, is a greater sin with Allah; and persecution is worse than killing.’ And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith, if they can. And whoso from among you turns back from his faith and dies while he is a disbeliever, it is they whose works shall be vain in this world and the next. These are the inmates of the Fire and therein shall they abide.

[3:21] But if they dispute with thee, say, ‘I have submitted myself to Allah, and also those who follow me.’ And say to those who have been given the Book and to the unlearned, ‘Have you submitted?’ If they submit, then they will surely be guided; but if they turn back, then thy duty is only to convey the message. And Allah is Watchful of His servants.

[3:73] And a section of the People of the Book say, ‘Believe in that which has been revealed unto the believers, in the early part of day, and disbelieve in the latter part thereof; perchance they may return;

[3:91] Surely, those who disbelieve after they have believed and then increase in disbelief, their repentance shall not be accepted, and these are they who have gone astray.

[4:138] Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor will He guide them to the way.

[5:55] O ye who believe! whoso among you turns back from his religion, then let it be known that in his stead Allah will soon bring a people whom He will love and who will love Him, and who will be kind and humble towards believers, hard and firm against disbelievers. They will strive in the cause of Allah and will not fear the reproach of a faultfinder. That is Allah’s grace; He bestows it upon whomsoever He pleases; and Allah is Bountiful, All- Knowing.

[5:62] And when they come to you, they say, ‘We believe,’ while they enter with unbelief and go out therewith; and Allah knows best what they conceal.

[5:93] And obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and be on your guard. But if you turn away, then know that on Our Messenger lies only the clear conveyance of the Message.

[5:100] On the Messenger lies only the conveying of the Message. And Allah knows what you reveal and what you hide.

[9:3] And this is a proclamation from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage, that Allah is clear of the idolaters, and so is His Messenger. So if you repent, it will be better for you; but if you turn away, then know that you cannot frustrate the plan of Allah. And give tidings of a painful punishment to those who disbelieve,

[9:66-68] ‘Offer no excuse. You have certainly disbelieved after your believing. If We forgive a party from among you, a party shall We punish, for they have been guilty.The hypocrites, men and women, are all connected one with another. They enjoin evil and forbid good, and keep their hands closed. They neglected Allah, so He has neglected them. Surely, it is the hypocrites who are the disobedient.Allah promises the hypocrites, men and women, and the disbelievers the fire of Hell, wherein they shall abide. It will suffice them. And Allah has cursed them. And they shall have a lasting punishment,

[9:74] They swear by Allah that they said nothing, but they did certainly use blasphemous language, and disbelieved after they had embraced Islam. And they meditated that which they could not attain. And they cherished hatred only because Allah and His Messenger had enriched them out of His bounty. So if they repent, it will be better for them; but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a grievous punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they shall have neither friend nor helper in the earth.

You can read further Quran 16:107; 47:26-27; 63:2-7.

As the majority of these verses were revealed in Medina, not Mecca, critics cannot resort to the “argument” of abrogation of earlier Qur’anic verses by later revelations.

Prophet Muhammad’s example corroborates the view that no punishment for apostasy exists in Islam. Once, a Bedouin convert to Islam suffered a fever while in Medina. He asked to be released from his pledge three times and was refused three times. Still, he left Medina unharmed (Bukhari). The reader may question if a single incident during Prophet Muhammad’s life is sufficient to prove that Islam does not punish an apostate. In fact, not a single instance exists of Prophet Muhammad punishing an individual because they apostatized.

Finally, Islam does not restrict apostasy.

Allah (SWT) says
[4:138] Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor will He guide them to the way.

[10:100] And if thy Lord had enforced His will, surely, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers?

[18:30] And say, ‘It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.’ Verily, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire whose flaming canopy shall enclose them. And if they cry for help, they will be helped with water like molten lead which will burn the faces. How dreadful the drink, and how evil is the Fire as a resting place!

Any “punishment” an apostate incurs is a matter between that person and God. The Qur’an is clear: apostasy is not a worldly crime, it is certainly not the “ultimate” crime, apostates are not to be harmed—let alone put to death, and those who choose to leave Islam have every right to do so. Precisely the same principles of freedom of conscience and speech apply to those who would be deemed blasphemers. That is, in Islam, no worldly punishment exists for blasphemy.


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