Friday Sermon – Men of Excellence: Hazrat Abu Bakr r.a.; Apostasy in Islam (1 April 2022)

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Friday Sermon

1 April 2022

Men of Excellence: Hazrat Abu Bakrra; Apostasy in Islam

After reciting the tashahhudta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:

The disorder that arose during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakrra was previously being mentioned. In relation to this, the Promised Messiahas writes the following in his book Sirr-ul-Khilafah:

“Ibn Khaldun has stated that among the Arabs, common folk as well as the nobles had abandoned Islam. The Banu Tayy and Banu Asad had gathered at the hand of Tulaihah, the Banu Ghatfan had become apostates whereas the Banu Hawazin remained in doubt and they had stopped paying the Zakat [alms]. Furthermore, Banu Sulaym had also became apostates and the same was the case for all the remaining tribes. 

“Ibn Athir has written in his historical works that the Arabs had abandoned Islam. The hypocrisy of the ordinary citizens as well as that of the more esteemed individuals from every tribe had become manifest and the Jews and Christians began to raise their heads and look in their direction. Due to the demise of their Prophetsa and due to their limited numbers and being outnumbered by the enemies, the state of the Muslims started to resemble the condition of a herd of sheep and goats on a rainy night” – that is, they gather together in one place out of fear and in order to seek shelter.

“Upon this, people said to Abu Bakrra, ‘People only consider the army of Usamahra to be the entire Muslim army and as you can see, the Arabs have rebelled against you. Hence, it does not seem appropriate for you to separate this group of Muslims from yourself.’ In reply to this, Hazrat Abu Bakrra said, ‘By Him in Whose hands is my life! Even if I become certain of the fact that beasts would devour me, I would most certainly dispatch the army of Usamahra as instructed by the Holy Prophetsa. I cannot annul a decision made by the Holy Prophetsa.’” 

The Promised Messiahas refers to Abdullahra bin Mas‘ud and says:

“Abdullah bin Mas‘ud says, ‘Following the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, we reached a state where, if Allah had not showered His Benevolence upon us through the means of Abu Bakrra, we would have been on the brink of destruction. He united us to fight for the collection of Zakat, which was applicable on “Bint Makhad” (i.e. a one-year old she camel) and “Bint Labun” (i.e, two-year old she camel) and to destroy the Arab cities [for their rebellion] and to continue worshipping Allah until death overtakes us.’” (Sirrul Khilafah, [Urdu translation], pp. 188-189, footnote, Nizarat Ishaat) 

Various misconceptions may arise during this debate and the following question can be raised as to whether Islam prescribes the death penalty for apostasy. I will briefly touch upon this.

After the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, almost all of Arabia abandoned Islam. Some people completely distanced themselves from Islam and some refused to pay the Zakat. Owing to this, Hazrat Abu Bakrra fought against all of them. In the books of history and biographies, the word murtad [apostate] had been used to describe all of the categories of people mentioned above. As such, historians and scholars that came later erred in their understanding, or they became the means of spreading the false teaching that the punishment for an apostate is death and for this reason [the scholars thought that] Hazrat Abu Bakrra declared war against all such apostates and had them all killed, unless they entered Islam again. Due to this, historians have portrayed Hazrat Abu Bakrra as a defender and hero of their ideology of “Khatm-e-Nabuwwat”. However, the fact of the matter is that no such concept of defending “Khatm-e-Nabuwwat” during the era of the Khilafat-e-Rashida [rightly guided caliphate] existed, nor was the sword taken up against these people for the reason that the concept of “Khatm-e-Nabuwwat” was in some form of danger, nor were they killed because apostasy is punishable by death. 

These details will be mentioned further ahead; that is, details of why war was declared against them. Prior to this, it is necessary to see whether the Holy Quran, or the Holy Prophetsa prescribed the death penalty for apostasy or whether another punishment has been prescribed. 

In Islamic terminology, an apostate is an individual who abandons the religion of Islam; i.e. after accepting Islam, they then forsake it. When we look at the Holy Quran, we come to know that Allah the Almighty has mentioned apostates on numerous occasions. However, Allah has not prescribed death or any other worldly punishment for them. Hence, some verses will be presented as an example. The first verse is as follows: 

وَمَنۡ يَّرۡتَدِدۡ مِنۡكُمۡ عَنۡ دِيۡنِهٖ فَيَمُتۡ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَاُولٰٓئِكَ حَبِطَتۡ اَعۡمَالُهُمۡ فِي الدُّنۡيَا وَالۡاٰخِرَةِ ۚ وَاُولٰٓئِكَ اَصۡحٰبُ النَّارِ ۚ هُمۡ فِيۡهَا خٰلِدُوۡنَ

This means, “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.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.218) 

This verse mentions those who leave their religion and eventually die in that very state of disbelief. So it is very clear from this that the punishment for apostasy is not death, because if the punishment was indeed death, it would not be stated that the apostates would die in a state of disbelief. 

Then, in another place, Allah the Almighty states:

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَنۡ يَّرۡتَدَّ مِنۡكُمۡ عَنۡ دِيۡنِهٖ فَسَوۡفَ يَاۡتِي اللّٰهُ بِقَوۡمٍ يُّحِبُّهُمۡ وَيُحِبُّوۡنَهٗۤ ۙ اَذِلَّةٍ عَلَي الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ اَعِزَّةٍ عَلَي الۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ ۫ يُجَاهِدُوۡنَ فِيۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ وَلَا يَخَافُوۡنَ لَوۡمَةَ لَآئِمٍ ؕ ذٰلِكَ فَضۡلُ اللّٰهِ يُؤۡتِيۡهِ مَنۡ يَّشَآءُ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيۡمٌ

“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.” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.55)

Here, as well, whilst mentioning those who turn away from religion, the believers have been given the glad tidings that Allah the Almighty will bring other people and nations in their place, yet there is no mention that you must kill the ones who turn away from religion, nor to give them any punishment. 

Then there is another verse – mentioned in Surah al-Nisa – which removes all types of doubt, uncertainty, and any questions that may arise:

اِنَّ‭ ‬الَّذِيۡنَ‭ ‬اٰمَنُوۡا‭ ‬ثُمَّ‭ ‬كَفَرُوۡا‭ ‬ثُمَّ‭ ‬اٰمَنُوۡا‭ ‬ثُمَّ‭ ‬كَفَرُوۡا‭ ‬ثُمَّ‭ ‬ازۡدَادُوۡا‭ ‬كُفۡرًا‭ ‬لَّمۡ‭ ‬يَكُنِ‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬لِيَغۡفِرَ‭ ‬لَهُمۡ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬لِيَهۡدِيَهُمۡ‭ ‬سَبِيۡلًا

“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.” (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.138) 

This is a clear rebuttal to the idea that the punishment for apostasy is death, and this is what is explained in our literature and some commentators have expounded upon it also. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh has given a brief explanation of this in his translation of the Holy Quran, stating:

“This verse refutes the notion that the punishment for an apostate is death. It is stated that if one abandons their religion, then believes again, then again becomes an apostate, and then believes once more, then it is for Allah the Almighty to decide regarding them. Then, if they die in a state of disbelief, they will indeed be the inmates of Hell. If the punishment for apostasy was death, there would be no possibility for them to believe and disbelieve again and again.” (The Holy Quran, [Urdu translation by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, p. 158, footnote) 

Aside from this, there are other verses of the Holy Quran which in principal refute the punishment of death for apostates, as Allah the Almighty states:

وَقُلِ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ ۟ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡيُؤۡمِنۡ وَّمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡيَكۡفُرۡ ۙ اِنَّاۤ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلظّٰلِمِيۡنَ نَارًا ۙ اَحَاطَ بِهِمۡ سُرَادِقُهَا ؕ وَاِنۡ يَّسۡتَغِيۡثُوۡا يُغَاثُوۡا بِمَآءٍ كَالۡمُهۡلِ يَشۡوِي الۡوُجُوۡهَ ؕ بِئۡسَ الشَّرَابُ ؕ وَسَآءَتۡ مُرۡتَفَقًا

“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!” (Surah al-Kahf, Ch.18: V.30)

Whilst disproving that there is any kind of compulsion in religion, Allah the Almighty states:

لَاۤ اِكۡرَاهَ فِي الدِّيۡنِ ۟ۙ قَدۡ تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشۡدُ مِنَ الۡغَيِّ ۚ فَمَنۡ يَّكۡفُرۡ بِالطَّاغُوۡتِ وَيُؤۡمِنۡۢ بِاللّٰهِ فَقَدِ اسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِالۡعُرۡوَةِ الۡوُثۡقٰي ٭ لَا انۡفِصَامَ لَهَا ؕ وَاللّٰهُ سَمِيۡعٌ عَلِيۡمٌ

“There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.257)

Some verses of the Holy Quran have been presented as an example, which negate the idea that one can force someone or compel or punish them with regards to matters of faith. Not mentioning any punishment for apostates, the Quran guides us that according to the Islamic shariah, there is no physical punishment stipulated for apostates. This Quranic teaching is further supported by the fact that the Holy Quran mentions hypocrites on a number of occasions. The evils of the hypocrites are mentioned with such vigour, that even the evils of the disbelievers have not been mentioned in the same manner. They have been declared sinful transgressors, labelled as disbelievers and there is mention about them turning back to disbelief after accepting Islam. However, at no instance is there any punishment stipulated for such hypocrites. The history of Islam is witness to the fact that no hypocrite was ever punished due to their hypocrisy. Hence, referring to hypocrites, the Holy Quran states: 

قُلۡ اَنۡفِقُوۡا طَوۡعًا اَوۡ كَرۡهًا لَّنۡ يُّتَقَبَّلَ مِنۡكُمۡ ؕ اِنَّكُمۡ كُنۡتُمۡ قَوۡمًا فٰسِقِيۡنَ

وَمَا مَنَعَهُمۡ اَنۡ تُقۡبَلَ مِنۡهُمۡ نَفَقٰتُهُمۡ اِلَّاۤ اَنَّهُمۡ كَفَرُوۡا بِاللّٰهِ وَبِرَسُوۡلِهٖ وَلَا يَاۡتُوۡنَ الصَّلٰوةَ اِلَّا وَهُمۡ كُسَالٰي وَلَا يُنۡفِقُوۡنَ اِلَّا وَهُمۡ كٰرِهُوۡنَ

“Say, ‘Spend willingly or unwillingly, it shall not be accepted from you. You are indeed a disobedient people.’ And nothing has deprived them of the acceptance of their contributions save that they disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger. And they come not to Prayer except lazily and they make no contribution save reluctantly.” (Surah al-Taubah, Ch.9: V.53-54) 

In this verse, the hypocrites have been labelled as “disobedient” and those who reject Allah and His Messengersa. The severity of their disbelief is mentioned in the following verse:

يَحۡلِفُوۡنَ بِاللّٰهِ مَا قَالُوۡا ؕ وَلَقَدۡ قَالُوۡا كَلِمَةَ الۡكُفۡرِ وَكَفَرُوۡا بَعۡدَ اِسۡلَامِهِمۡ وَهَمُّوۡا بِمَا لَمۡ يَنَالُوۡا ۚ وَمَا نَقَمُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ اَغۡنٰهُمُ اللّٰهُ وَرَسُوۡلُهٗ مِنۡ فَضۡلِهٖ ۚ فَاِنۡ يَّتُوۡبُوۡا يَكُ خَيۡرًا لَّهُمۡ ۚ وَاِنۡ يَّتَوَلَّوۡا يُعَذِّبۡهُمُ اللّٰهُ عَذَابًا اَلِيۡمًا

“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.” (Surah al-Taubah, Ch.9: V.74) 

Similarly, in verse 66 of Surah al-Taubah, Allah the Almighty states that they turned to disbelief after professing belief:

لَا‭ ‬تَعۡتَذِرُوۡا‭ ‬قَدۡ‭ ‬كَفَرۡتُمۡ‭ ‬بَعۡدَ‭ ‬اِيۡمَانِكُمۡ

“Offer no excuse. You have certainly disbelieved after your believing.”

Furthermore, there was an entire chapter revealed about the hypocrites called – Surah al-Munafiqun [the hypocrites]. In this chapter, it is mentioned:

اِتَّخَذُوۡۤا اَيۡمَانَهُمۡ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّوۡا عَنۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ ؕ اِنَّهُمۡ سَآءَ مَا كَانُوۡا يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ

ذٰلِكَ بِاَنَّهُمۡ اٰمَنُوۡا ثُمَّ كَفَرُوۡا فَطُبِعَ عَلٰي قُلُوۡبِهِمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يَفۡقَهُوۡنَ

“They have made their oaths a shield; thus they turn men away from the way of Allah. Surely, evil is that which they have been doing. That is because they first believed (and), then disbelieved. So a seal was set upon their hearts and consequently they understand not.” (Surah al-Munafiqun, Ch.63: V.3-4)

Even in this verse there is mention of them turning back to disbelief after professing belief; however, no punishment has been stipulated for them, nor was there any administered. Thus, there are many verses like these which speak of such people who professed belief and then later, either by way of open declaration or by means of their actions became disbelievers. They have been called transgressors, disbelievers, and apostates, however, no punishment of death etc. has been stipulated for them.

What has the Holy Prophetsa said regarding apostates? After verses of the Holy Quran, let us take a look at what the blessed model to whom the Quran was revealed – regarding whom it was said, “his character was the Quran”, and who implemented the teachings of the Quran, has said regarding hypocrites.

The following incident mentioned in a hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari definitively resolves the matter that according to the shariah there is no punishment for an apostate for simply abandoning their faith. The words of the hadith are:

Hazrat Jabirra bin Abdillah states that a Bedouin came to the Holy Prophetsa and accepted Islam by pledging allegiance. The next day in Medina, the Bedouin developed a fever. He came to the Holy Prophetsa and said to take back his pledge [on three different occasions]. Each time, the Holy Prophetsa refused and did not answer him. Then the Bedouin left Medina. The Holy Prophetsa said: “Medina is like a furnace – it expels impurities and leaves behind the pure.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fazail al-Medina, Baab Al-Medina Tanfi Al-Khabatha, Hadith 1883)

Hazrat Maulana Sher Ali Sahibra wrote a book titled Qatl-e-Murtad aur Islam which was prepared under the supervision of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. In this book, he cited this hadith and then wrote:

“The fact that the Bedouin repeatedly came to the Holy Prophetsa proves that there is no stipulated punishment for apostasy, otherwise he would never have gone to the Holy Prophetsa; in fact, he would have tried his utmost to leave without informing anyone and not let anyone know that he had become an apostate.” 

He further writes, “We are told that the punishment of death for apostates has been outlined by the Islamic shariah and the reason given is that in this way people will be compelled to remain followers of Islam. If this is true, then why did the Holy Prophetsa not warn the person that kept on coming to see him and why did the Holy Prophetsa not tell him, ‘Remember that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death. If you become an apostate, you will be killed.’ Especially when he was constantly expressing his intention of becoming an apostate and there was a danger that he would become an apostate and leave. In his case, why was a guard not appointed for him so that if he became an apostate and decided to leave, they would be able to seize him and impose the punishment stipulated by the shariah. Why did the companions not tell him; ‘Look here, if you wish to save your life, do not even think of becoming an apostate, because in this city there is a rule that whoever becomes an apostate after becoming a Muslim, they are killed instantly.’ Hence, the fact that the Bedouin repeatedly expressed his apostasy, and went to see the Holy Prophetsa, and the Holy Prophetsa did not warn him of the consequences of apostasy, neither did the companions order for him to be put to death, eventually him leaving Medina without any hindrance, all points to the clear reality that there is no punishment for apostasy in the Islamic shariah. 

“Similarly, when he left, to some extent, the Holy Prophetsa expressed contentment and said that Medina was like a furnace which cleansed the dirt from a pit; all this demonstrates that the Holy Prophetsa opposed the concept of compelling someone to remain a Muslim and for people to be stopped from apostasy using methods of compulsion. In fact, it did not displease the Holy Prophetsa, if an impure person separated themselves from the community of Muslims. He never compelled anyone to remain within Islam against their will; rather, according to him, if such a person left then it was as the saying goes: ‘good riddance.’

“If it was the Holy Prophet’ssa belief that once a person entered Islam, they ought to be compelled to remain a Muslim, and that if the person did not agree then he ought to be killed, so that an example can be made out of him which would serve as a warning for others; then the Holy Prophetsa ought to have been angry that the Bedouin left and express displeasure at the companions as to why they let him leave; and that why did they not threaten to kill him? The Holy Prophetsa ought to have commanded the companions to chase after him and catch the wretched man wherever he was, so that he could be given the death penalty. However, the Holy Prophetsa did not do such a thing. On the contrary, his words were to the effect that ‘it is better that he has left as he was not worthy enough to remain among the Muslims; God Almighty has removed him from us by His own Hand.’ 

“Thus, the example of this Bedouin is complete and categorical proof that there is no punishment in Islam for an apostate, and there was no such practice among the Muslims that they would kill apostates simply on the basis of them abandoning their faith.” (Qatl-e-Murtad aur Islam, Maulvi Sher Ali Sahibra, pp. 109-111, 1925)

The second proof of the fact that in Islam there is no punishment prescribed for an apostate are those conditions which the Holy Prophetsa agreed to with the idolaters during the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah. In the hadith about the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah, Bara bin Azib has narrated that on that day, the Holy Prophetsa settled the treaty with the idolaters on three conditions; the first condition was that if anyone from among the idolaters became a Muslim and went to the Holy Prophetsa, the Holy Prophetsa would hand him back to the idolaters. The second condition was that if anyone from among the Muslims became an apostate and went to live with the idolaters, they would not hand him back to the Muslims. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Suluh, Baab Al-Suluh ma‘a al-Mushrikeen, Hadith 2700)

The second condition of this treaty clearly shows that Islam has not prescribed any punishment for an apostate, because if the Islamic shariah stipulated the death penalty, then the Holy Prophetsa would never have settled with the idolaters regarding a matter to do with a prescribed punishment in the shariah. Aside from this, there are many other incidents which make it evidently clear that during the lifetime of the Holy Prophetsa, a few people became apostates, but they were never punished owing to their apostasy, and it was only in the case that they rebelled and were guilty of waging war.”

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has elaborated on this issue in light of another verse of the Holy Quran: 

وَمَا‭ ‬عَلَي‭ ‬الرَّسُوۡلِ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬الۡبَلٰغُ‭ ‬الۡمُبِيۡنُ

“And the Messenger is not responsible but for the plain delivery of the Message” (Surah al-Nur, Ch.24: V.55)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“This alludes to the fundamental principle that instead of the sword, one ought to carry out tabligh [propagate the message of Islam]. Prophet Abrahamas also adopted this very principle and the people of his era were also given the same commandment by God Almighty that His prophets’ duty was simply to convey the message and not to compel them through the use of the sword. This is the summary of the entire Quran in that religious people use the power of their argument to convince others and not through compulsion. It is a pity that up till now the world has failed to understand this point, and even amongst the Muslims, death as the punishment for apostasy is considered lawful.” 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra continues:

“Whether one’s doctrines are false or true, they [i.e. its followers] will nonetheless consider it to be the truth; just like a Muslim considers his religion to be the true faith. Although Christianity is false, the question is, what is the view of the majority of the world’s Christians regarding Christianity? Indeed, they consider it to be true. Similarly, the Hindu faith is false, but again, the question is, what is the view of the majority of the world’s Hindus regarding their religion? Indeed, they consider it to be true. Judaism, at this point, is no longer true, but the question is that what is the view of the majority of the Jews regarding Judaism? Indeed, they consider it to be true. Thus, if it is deemed lawful for one to take someone’s life simply on the basis of considering their faith to be true and the other’s false, then why can a Christian not kill another Muslim or why does a Hindu not have the right to compel others to adopt the Hindu faith or else they will kill them? Why do the adherents of Confucianism in China not have the right to force people to enter their faith? 

“There are around 15,000 to 20,000 Muslims in the Philippines” – this was the figure at the time Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was mentioning this, there are many more Muslims now – “why do the Christians there not have the right to force the Muslims to accept Christianity? Why does the USA not have the right to force the Muslims living in their country to accept Christianity? Why does Russia not have the right to force people to become Christians or communists? If Muslims have the right to force people to adopt the same faith as theirs, then logically, others also have the right to do the same. However, could there be any peace in the world if such a right was established? By establishing this right, can anyone tell their sons or wives that this is a correct practice in that the Christians have the right to force Muslims to become Christians? Likewise, the Muslims have the right to force the Christians to become Muslims; the people of Iran have the right to force the followers of the Hanafi school of thought to become Shia; and the Hanafis have the right to force everyone to become a Sunni. 

“Thus, this is such an illogical notion that no one can even accept it for a minute. Whenever the nations of the earlier prophets refused to accept divine guidance, God Almighty addressed them stating:

اَنُلۡزِمُكُمُوۡهَا‭ ‬وَاَنۡتُمۡ‭ ‬لَهَا‭ ‬كٰرِهُوۡنَ

“Meaning ‘[if you do not wish to accept guidance] shall we force it upon you, while you are averse thereto?’ (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.29) 

“Regrettably, there are people amongst the Muslims in this present era, who reject this fundamental principle” and we observe that majority of the Muslims are of this view. “If the world was to understand this point, then most surely cruelty and injustices in both religious and political spheres will come to an end. People will neither forcefully impose their faith on others, nor will they try to impose their political agendas on other countries.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 7, pp. 606-607)

The Promised Messiahas states:

“I do not know from where, and who, our opponents have heard that Islam was spread by the sword, because God states in the Holy Quran:

لَاۤ‭ ‬اِكۡرَاهَ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الدِّيۡنِ

“‘There is no compulsion in religion.’ (Ch.2: V.257)

“Thus, who says that there is compulsion in religion? And what means were there even to exercise this compulsion?  And those who are compelled to become Muslims, do they display such sincerity and faith in that without being given any kind of remuneration and despite being just 200 to 300 in number, they fought against thousands of people? And when they reached thousands in number they defeated the enemy which consisted of hundreds of thousands. And they offered their necks to be sacrificed like sheep and goats in order to defend their faith from the enemy. And they presented their blood to serve as a testimony to the truthfulness of Islam. And they were so ardently devoted to spread the unity of God that they endured hardships like dervishes and reached the desserts of Africa and propagated the message of Islam in the land. And they endured every kind of difficulty and travelled as far as China, but not to wage war, but rather as mere dervishes. And upon reaching that land, they conveyed the message of Islam and through their blessed discourse, millions of people were prepared to accept Islam in those lands. They then travelled to India like simple dervishes and introduced the message of Islam to a vast number of followers of the Arya faith and caused the declaration of ‘There is no god but Allah’ to echo at the borders of Europe. 

“Can you truthfully say whether this could be the work of those who were compelled to become Muslims, whose hearts disbelieved and they merely expressed faith verbally? Nay. In fact, this is the work of those whose hearts are filled with the spiritual light of faith and their hearts are filled with the belief of God.” (Paigham-e-Sulh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, pp. 468-469)

In light of these Quranic verses and sayings, it is proven that there is no death penalty for apostasy. However, if the punishment for apostasy is not death, then why did Hazrat Abu Bakrra kill those who became apostates or ordered their killing? 

The fact is that by studying the history [of Islam] one can easily learn that those who apostatised during the time of Hazrat Abu Bakrra did not just become apostates, but in fact they were guilty of rebellion, and that too with bloodthirsty intentions. They did not only hatch evil ploys to launch an attack on Medina and kill the Muslims, but they also took hold of Muslims in various areas and mercilessly killed them. Their limbs were severed and they were beaten and burnt alive. These apostates were guilty of committing grave crimes such as cruelty, injustices, murder, rebellion and looting. Consequently, for the purpose of defence and in retaliation, a war was waged against these people who had taken up arms, and according to the verse:

جَزٰٓؤُا‭ ‬سَيِّئَةٍ‭ ‬سَيِّئَةٌ‭ ‬مِّثۡلُهَا

[“The recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof” (Surha al-Shura, Ch.42: V.41)]

Thus, they were given a punishment the like of what they had committed and were killed owing to the crimes that they had committed. Some details from the books of history will be presented. It is mentioned in Tarikh al-Khamis:  

“Kharijah bin Hisn, who was from among the apostates, took some cavaliers from among his people and headed towards Medina. His intention was to either stop the people of Medina even before they could come out to fight, or launch a sudden attack without them having any knowledge of it. Subsequently, he attacked Hazrat Abu Bakrra and the Muslims with him at a time when they were completely unaware.” (Tarikh al-Khamis, Vol. 3, p. 173, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2009)

The apostates did not just attack Medina, but when Hazrat Abu Bakrra inflicted defeat upon them, they killed the faithful Muslims that were living amongst their different tribes. I mentioned this in the previous sermon as well. Despite living amongst these tribes who had become apostates, they remained steadfast on Islam.

 Allamah Al-Tabari writes,  

“When Hazrat Abu Bakrra defeated the tribes which launched an attack, the Banu Zubyan and Abs began to attack the Muslims who were living amongst them and they were killed in all kinds of manner. Thereafter, various other tribes did the same”, i.e. they killed those who remained steadfast upon Islam. (Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 256, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Lebanon, 2012) 

Allama Ibn Athir writes,  

“The tribes of Abs and Zubyan began to mercilessly kill the Muslims that were living amongst them and following this, other tribes began to do the same. Upon this, Hazrat Abu Bakrra took an oath to kill all those people that belonged to these tribes and were involved in the killing of the Muslims.” (Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 3, pt. 6, p. 310, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut) 

As mentioned, upon the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, those who became apostates did not just merely do this on account of their faith; in fact, they rebelled against the Islamic government. They took up the sword, attacked Medina and also killed the Muslims living amongst their tribes by throwing them into the fire and mutilating them. Just as it has been recorded in Tarikh al-Tabari with reference to Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid that when Asad, Ghatfan, Hawazin, Sulaym and Tay were defeated, Khalidra did not accept their apology unless they brought before him those who had become apostates and had thrown the Muslims into the fire, mutilated them and committed other cruelties upon them as well.” (Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 265, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2012) 

Allamah Ibn Khaldun writes:

“These apostate tribes from among the Arab land headed towards Medina in order to fight against Hazrat Abu Bakrra and the Muslims.” (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Vol. 2, p. 436, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2016)

Tarikh al-Tabari has recorded that it was the tribes of Abs and Zubyan who were the first to launch an attack. Subsequently, Hazrat Abu Bakrra had to fight against them before Hazrat Usamahra could return.” (Tarikh al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir Al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 254, Dar-ul-Fikr, 2002) 

Allama Ibn Khaldun writes:

“The tribe of Rabia became apostates and appointed Munzir bin Numan, who was known as Maghroor; they appointed him as their king.” (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Vol. 2, pp. 439-440, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2016)

Allama Aini, the commentator of Sahih al-Bukahri, writes: 

“The reason why Hazrat Abu Bakrra fought against those who refused to pay the Zakat was that they refused to pay with the threat of their swords and waged a war against the Muslim ummah.” (Umdat al-Qari, Vol. 24, p. 122, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2001)

Allama Al-Shawkani writes:

“After mentioning various details about the apostasy that took place after the Holy Prophet’ssa demise and those who refused to pay the Zakat, Imam Khattabi has written that these people were, in fact, rebels and the reason why they have been referred to as ‘apostates’ is because they infiltrated amongst those who had left Islam.” (Nayl al-Autar, Allama Muhammad Al-Shawkani, Kitab-ul-Zakat, p. 724, Dar-ul-Kitab Al-Arabi, Beirut, 2004)

One author [of history] has repeatedly, in his book, referred to the apostates as rebels. He writes:

“When news of the Holy Prophet’ssa demise spread across the Arab land and flames of apostasy began to be kindled in all directions, these flames of apostasy were most intense in Yemen. Despite the fact that Ansi, who was the one who instigated this had been killed, Musailma from the Banu Hanifah and Tulaiha from the Banu Asad had claimed prophethood and gathered the support of thousands of people. People began to say that the prophet belonging to the confederate tribes of the Banu Asad and Ghatfan was more beloved than the prophet of the Quraish, because Muhammad[sa] had passed away and Tulaiha was still alive. 

“When news of these rebels reached Hazrat Abu Bakrra, he stated, ‘We shall continue to wait until we do not receive a full report of these incidents from the governors and leaders that have been appointed in those areas.’ Not many days had passed that reports began to be received from these various governors. It was clearly evident from these reports that not only did the rebels pose a threat to the [Islamic] government but also posed a serious threat to those Muslims who remained steadfast upon their faith and did not support the rebels, despite the storm of apostasy. In light of such circumstances, Hazrat Abu Bakrra had no other choice but to challenge the rebels with all his strength and inflict defeat upon them and take control of the situation.” (Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiqra, Muhammad Hussein Heikal, p. 131, Ilm-o-Irfan Publishers, Lahore)

 Another author has written as follows:

“Hazrat Abu Bakrra sought to crush the apostates, who in various parts of the Arab land were instigating a rebellion and as a result of which posed a grave threat to Islam and its followers.” (Syeduna Abu Bakrra, Abu al-Nasr, p. 603)

Another author writes: 

“Following the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, many of the tribal leaders became apostates and they all became independent rulers of their respective areas. According to researchers, this apostasy was mainly owing to political factors and had very little to do with religious reasons. In the final days of the Holy Prophet’ssa life, some of the leaders of these Arab tribes tried to use religion in order to disguise their political rebellion by claiming prophethood.” (Khulafa-e-Rashideen, Hakeem Mahmood Zafar, p. 58, Takhleeqat Akram Arcade, Lahore)

In any case, these accounts will continue to be narrated in the future, insha-Allah. However, the summary of these various historical references is that these tribes who had become apostates stopped the Zakat, in other words, they forcefully stopped the tax legislated by the government. And in some areas, they even looted it. They also prepared their armies and attacked Medina, the capital city. They killed those Muslims who refused to become apostates; some of whom were burnt alive. Thus, the death penalty had become incumbent upon these apostates, who were guilty of rebelling against the government, stealing its wealth, killing the Muslims and burning them alive. 

As the Holy Quran states:

جَزٰٓؤُا‭ ‬سَيِّئَةٍ‭ ‬سَيِّئَةٌ‭ ‬مِّثۡلُهَا

meaning that a person who commits a crime should be punished according to the crime they committed. (Surah al-Shura, Ch.42: V.41) 

At another instance, it is stated:

A اِنَّمَا جَزٰٓؤُا الَّذِيۡنَ يُحَارِبُوۡنَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوۡلَهٗ وَيَسۡعَوۡنَ فِي الۡاَرۡضِ فَسَادًا اَنۡ يُّقَتَّلُوۡۤا اَوۡ يُصَلَّبُوۡۤا اَوۡ تُقَطَّعَ اَيۡدِيۡهِمۡ وَاَرۡجُلُهُمۡ مِّنۡ خِلَافٍ اَوۡ يُنۡفَوۡا مِنَ الۡاَرۡضِ a

Meaning that those who wage war against Allah and His Messengersa – this refers to those who wage war against the Messengersa and his successors or the Islamic government, because war cannot be waged against Allah. No one can strike Allah with their hand, nor with stones, arrows or swords. Hence this refers to waging war against them [i.e. the Messengersa and his successors]. The clause:

وَيَسۡعَوۡنَ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الۡاَرۡضِ‭ ‬فَسَادًا

[and strive to create disorder in the land (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.34)] elucidates what is meant by waging war against Allah and His Messengersa. The explanation is that those who wage war against Allah and His Messengersa, or in other words they create disorder, murder, loot and take up armed rebellion in the land, their punishment is:

يُّقَتَّلُوۡۤا‭ ‬اَوۡ‭ ‬يُصَلَّبُوۡۤ

“that they be slain or crucified”. (Ch.5: V.34) 

In any case, as I stated – I have expanded a little further – the remainder will be mentioned in the future, insha-Allah.

At this time, I wish to mention some deceased members whose funeral prayers I will lead after the [Friday] prayer. 

The first mention is of respected Muhammad Bashir Shad Sahib, who was a retired missionary and had been residing in America. He passed away at the age of 91.

اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ‮ ‬وَاِنَّاۤ‭ ‬اِلَيۡهِ‭ ‬رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]

His father accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1926. After passing middle school in 1945, he enrolled in Madrassa Ahmadiyya. In 1952, he passed and obtained a good position in the Fazil Arabic exam. He obtained his Shahid degree from Jamiatul Mubashireen in 1954 and then also studied medicine for one year. He served in Wakalat-e-Tabshir Rabwah from 1956-1957. He was then sent as a missionary to Sierra Leone in 1958 where he served in various areas. During this time, he also established a printing press in Sierra Leone. He was then assigned to Nigeria where he rendered good work. He was called back from Nigeria after three years and then in 1964, he was sent to Nigeria once again. 

In 1967, the deceased went on a preaching tour to Benin where Allah the Almighty enabled him to preach to the local people as a result of which they accepted Ahmadiyyat. During Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III’srh trip to Africa in 1970, when he went to Kano, he presented a gift to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh of a hundred new converts, upon which Huzoorrh expressed his delight. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh led a silent prayer and then gifted his blessed turban to Bashir Shad Sahib. 

In 1970, while he was returning, he also had the blessed opportunity of performing Umrah. In 1983, the deceased was appointed as the secretary Majlis Karpurdaz Bahishti Maqbarah Rabwah. 

When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh had to migrate in 1984 after the ordinance that was passed against the Jamaat, there was a sermon delivered a day before the migration in the presence of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh and Bashir Sahib had the honour of delivering that sermon. In this way, he is also a part of history. In 1988, due to personal reasons, the deceased sent a request to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh seeking retirement, which he accepted, after which Bashir Sahib moved to the USA. He is survived by his wife, respected Nasreen Akhtar Shad Sahiba, one son and four daughters. 

May Allah the Almighty bestow His forgiveness and mercy and enable his children to always remain firmly attached to the Jamaat and Khilafat.

The next mention is of Rana Muhammad Siddiq Sahib who was the son of Rana Ilam Din Sahib of Malianwala, district Sialkot. He also recently passed away.

اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ‮ ‬وَاِنَّاۤ‭ ‬اِلَيۡهِ‭ ‬رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]

The deceased’s father went to Qadian in 1938 and accepted Ahmadiyyat. The deceased was regular in offering prayers and fasting, he offered Tahajjud [pre-dawn voluntary prayers], he was devoted, courageous and a fearless individual. He had profound love for Khilafat and acted upon the instructions of the Khalifa. He would exhort all of his children to remain attached to the Jamaat and to love and obey Khilafat. Due to opposition of the Jamaat, he was made to face difficult circumstances in 1974 and 1984 but he endured this with steadfastness. He is survived by six sons and a daughter. 

One of his sons, Rana Muhammad Akram Mahmood Sahib is serving as a missionary in Nigeria and could not attend his father’s funeral or burial due to being in the field of service. His mother passed away in 2018 and he could not be present at that time either. May Allah the Almighty grant him patience and forbearance and grant forgiveness and mercy to the deceased. 

The next mention is of respected Dr Mahmood Ahmad Khawaja Sahib of Islamabad, who recently passed away,

اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ‮ ‬وَاِنَّاۤ‭ ‬اِلَيۡهِ‭ ‬رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]

He was 78 years old. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, he was a musi. Ahmadiyyat was established in his family through his father Khawaja Muhammad Sharif Sahib, who accepted Ahmadiyyat upon the basis of a dream during the time of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. He was a very pious individual which is why Allah the Almighty instructed him three times in different dreams to accept the Promised Messiahas, despite the fact that the rest of his family opposed the Jamaat. Thus, he eventually accepted Ahmadiyyat. 

Dr Mahmood Khawaja Sahib obtained his initial education in Peshawar after which he obtained his MSc degree in Chemistry from the University of Peshawar in 1966. Then in 1973, he obtained his PhD from La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia. He taught at various universities in Pakistan and abroad as well. I first met him when he was teaching at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, and I knew him to be a very simple natured, humble and selfless individual. He was an excellent research scholar. He was well-respected as a research scholar both within Pakistan and abroad. He was married to Amatul Qayyum Sahiba, daughter of Chaudhary Ikramullah Sahib. They have one son and one daughter. 

Along with his wife, Dr Mahmood Khawaja Sahib was able to devote himself under the Nusrat Jahan scheme from 1979 to 1984 and served in Sierra Leone. 

His son, Dr Tariq Khawaja says:

“He would recite the Holy Quran, particularly in Ramadan as well as reading its translation with great attention and focus. He would stress upon the fact that the commandments of God, His Messengersa and the Khalifa should be relayed in the exact same words as the slightest deviation in wording could give a different meaning altogether.” 

Abdul Bari Sahib, Amir of Islamabad district writes:

“Both Khawaja Sahib and I had the opportunity of serving in Sierra Leone under the Nusrat Jahan scheme. Upon returning to Pakistan, he initially worked in a government institution after which he moved to Islamabad where he joined the SDPI [Sustainable Development Policy Institute]. He was renowned and despite becoming very popular he worked with great sincerity. He worked to eliminate harmful chemicals in food products, drainage systems, as well as makeup and beauty products and he garnered international recognition for this work. He also authored various books on this subject.” 

Bari Sahib says that whenever he wrote a book, he would send a copy to him as well. 

He says, “I now have quite a number of his books. He was a very sincere Ahmadi. He loved Khilafat and he would help Khuddam recognise their shortcomings for the sake of their moral training.”

Scientists, representatives of government ministries, university chancellors and professors, heads of NGOs and civil societies from Pakistan, Germany, Sweden, Burkina Faso, America, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Nigeria, Egypt, Bahrain and various other countries have sent messages of condolences about Khawaja Mahmood Sahib. There were many messages which their children also sent to me. I will read out one or two messages as examples.

Mr Charles G Brown, President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry from Washington DC, USA writes: 

“Dr Mahmood Khawaja was unique, intelligent and an invaluable civil servant. His magnificent scientific works about new findings regarding toxic chemicals have increased the level of scholarship and are vital in providing a base to government and private institutions. Through international organisations, his efforts spanning decades have brought agreements between nations into fruition, have helped to foster mutual harmony among civil societies and have helped to reduce toxins in Pakistan. In 2019, he received the PBC – the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health Chairman’s award. Among the many achievements of Dr Mahmood, one is being the president of an International Medical Association. Of the doctors elected to this position up until now, he is the only doctor who was not a physician but a PhD doctor.” 

Similarly, many other scientists have commended him which include doctors from Germany and Switzerland. 

May Allah the Almighty grant the deceased forgiveness and mercy, bestow patience upon the family and enable them to carry on his virtues.

(Official Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 22 April 2022, pp. 5-10.Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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