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Apostasy from Islam:

The Most Abhorrent Sin

Praise be to Allah,the Lord of the worlds. May Allah raisethe rank of our master Muhammad andhis Al and Companions and protect his nationfrom that which he fears for it.


Islam is the only religion Allahaccepts from His slaves and the only religion He ordered Hisslaves to follow. The one who performs the greatest right of Allahon the slave by worshipping Allah alone,not taking any partners to Him, and believing in the message ofthe Prophet Muhammad, will be grantedeverlasting bounties in Paradise. He who takes for himself areligion other than Islam and dies onthat status will be a loser on the Day of Judgment and hiseternal abode is Hellfire, where the torture does not cease nordecrease. Allah does not forgive theone who dies non-Muslim, nor will any of his good deeds done inthis lifetime be accepted from him. SuratMuhammad, Ayah 34:

means: [Those who blasphemed and block away from the waysof Allah anddie as blasphemers, Allahshall not forgive them.]Suratan Nisa', Ayah 48:

means: [Allah doesnot forgive that one associates partners with Him, and Heforgives whatever is less than that for whomever He willed.]

Knowing everlasting enjoyments await the Muslim in Paradiseand everlasting torture in Hellfire awaits the one who dies anon-Muslim should make every Muslim anxiously prioritize holdingtight to his Religion. The one who is desirous of having hisending a good one will do his utmost to comply with all what isobligatory upon him and avoid what is forbidden, and above all,will endeavor to avoid anything which will invalidate, interrupt,and terminate his Islam--namelyapostasy. Of greater priority is warning the Muslims against whatwould take them out of Islam and leadthem to be one of the eternal inhabitants of Hellfire over otherissues in the Religion with less drastic consequences. For thisreason, the scholars of Islamincluded chapters on apostasy in their books to elucidate whatcauses a person to commit apostasy and the judgments concerninghim, in an effort to warn the people from committing any of it.The one who does not know evil is more likely to fall in it, andthe one who learns the chapter of apostasy would have his eyesopen and his heart guarded to avoid committing this grievous sin.

Imam an-Nawawiyy defined apostasyas interrupting Islam by an intentionor by a blasphemous doing or by a blasphemous saying--whether ornot it was said mockingly, out of stubbornness, or out ofconviction. He said apostasy is the most abhorrent type ofblasphemy. For one to have been Muslim, then to apostate from Islamis the most vulgar of sins. It is a heinous crime and itscommitter deserves the everlasting torture of Hellfire should hedie without repenting from it.2

Scholars of the four schools (madhahib)classified apostasy into three (3) categories: beliefs in theheart, actions committed by certain parts of the body, andsayings with the tongue. Ar-Ramliyy, from the school of Imamash-Shafi^iyy, classified apostasy intothese three categories and gave examples of each in his book,Explanation of Minhaj, as did Imaman-Nawawiyy in his book, Rawdat at-Talibin.Qadi ^Iyadand ImamMuhammad ^Ulaysh from the Malikiyyschool gave examples of these three (3) types of apostasy.Likewise did Imam Ibnu ^Abidinand Badr ar­Rashid from the Hanifyyyschool and Imam al­Buhutiyy fromthe Hanbaliyy school. Ibn as­Subkiyy saidin his book At-Tabaqat : " ImamAl-Ash^ariyy , his students and all Muslims do not disagreeupon that he who says a blasphemous word or he who does ablasphemous doing is a blasphemer ( kafir). He is not a believerin Allah, and he shall remain inHellfire forever, even if he knew the truth in his heart. This isa case of scholarly consensus; not even two Muslims woulddisagree on that matter.

The Muhadith, Hafidh, Faqih and Linguist MurtadaAz-Zabidiyy said:" the scholars from the four schools (madhhab)authored in exposing the types of apostasy."

The scholar's classification of apostasy into these threecategories facilitates one's learning and understanding of thesubject--thereby making it easier to avoid falling into it.Classification as such can be easily understood from different ayatin the Qur'an. In Suratal-Hujurat, Ayah 17,Allah said:

which means: [The believers are those who believe in Allahand His Messenger, and they do not doubt in thatbelief.] This ayah reflects thatcategory of apostasy pertaining to beliefs in the heart. In SuratFussilat, Ayah 37,Allah said:

which means: [do not prostrate for the sunor the moon, rather prostrate for AllahWho created the sun and the moon.] This ayahreflects that category of apostasy pertaining to actionscommitted by different parts of the body. In Suratat-Tawbah,

Ayah 74, Allah said:

which means: [They swear by Allahthat they did not utter, and they have said the wordof blasphemy and blasphemed after having been Muslims.] This ayahreflects that category of apostasy pertaining to sayings.

Each one of these three categories of apostasy is divided intomany subdivisions, and the scholars gave many examples of each.

An example of the first category ofapostasy--beliefs in the heart--is for one to have doubt inthe existence of Allah or doubt inthe message of Prophet Muhammad. Alsoblasphemous is to doubt in the message of any of the messengersor prophets of Allah known to be amessenger or a prophet by the layman and the scholar alike, suchas Adam, Ibrahim,^Isa, or Musa.Doubting in the revelation of the Qur'anto Sayyidina Muhammad isblasphemy, as is doubting about matters such as the Day ofJudgment, the existence of Paradise and Hell, or other suchmatters upon which there has been scholarly consensus, such asReward and Punishment. Doubting in matters which are not commonlyknown among the Muslims--layman and scholar alike--like theexistence of the Basin (Hawd)that the believers will drink from prior to entering Paradise, isnot blasphemy except if one was stubborn about it in that he knewthis matter is part of the Religion and still denies it.

Included in the category of apostasy pertaining to beliefs inthe heart is to believe anything other than Allahexists without a beginning. This was the belief of the Greekphilosophers, and following in their footsteps, Ibn Taymiyyah,who said the kind of the world exists without a beginning. Only Allahexists without a beginning and His attributes are eternal andeverlasting and do not change. Everything else is a creation of Allahand has a beginning to its existence. Qadi^Iyad, al­Mutawaliyy, and Ibn Hajaral­^Asqalaniyy, and others establishedthe scholarly consensus (ijma^) onthe blasphemy of he who believes the world exists without abeginning.

Renouncing any of the attributes of Allah,known by ijma^ He is attributedwith--such as knowing about everything is blasphemy. Alsoblasphemous is he who renounces that Allahis attributed with Power, Will, Knowledge, Hearing, Sight, orSpeech (Kalam). Renouncing any ofthese attributes of Allah isblasphemous because the mind alone is sufficient in knowing that Allahmust be attributed with these attributes, i.e., theseattributes are a condition for the status of Godhood and as such,one is not excused by ignorance. Ibn al­Jawziyy said:"There is consensus on the blasphemy of he who negates Allahhas power over everything."

He who believes that Allah resemblesany of his creations in His Self, Attributes, or Doings hasblasphemed. The one who believes Allah isa body or an illumination, or believes Allahexists 'above' in the heavens, or that He sits on the throneis a blasphemer. All these are attributes of the creation and arenon-befitting to attribute to the Creator. If Allahwas attributed with such attributes, He would have similarsfrom among His creations, and Allah saidin the Qur'an:

which means: [Nothing is like him.] If Allahwas a body, He would be susceptible to the things all bodiesare susceptible to like change, divisibility, andannihilation--all indications of shortage or weakness andnon­befitting to attribute to Allah.

Also is blasphemous he who renders lawful what is commonlyknown among the Muslims to be unlawful (such as adultery,fornication, stealing, or drinking alcohol,) or renders unlawful,matters commonly known among the Muslims to be lawful, (such asselling and marriage)--conditional in all this is the person isaware of the judgments of these matters in the Religion. Belyingthe Prophet, blemishing his attributes, or believing in thepossibility of prophethood of someone after our Prophet Muhammad( as the Qadiyany's claim ) is blasphemy.

The second category of apostasy, i.e., actionscommitted by different parts of the body, includes prostrating toan idol, or prostrating to the sun or the moon, or prostrating toany other creation with the purpose of worshipping it. Anotherexample of apostasy of actions is knowingly throwing the Book ofthe Qur'an in the garbage, andlikewise any papers containing Islamic information, as said by Ruyyaniyyand others, because this action displays mockery for theReligion. It is blasphemy to throw a paper on which is written aname of Allah, provided the throwerknows it is a name of Allah and isconscious of the fact when he threw the paper.

The third category of apostasy is that ofsayings and the scholars said this category contains the mostnumerous cases. The Prophet said: <<Most of the sins of thesons of Adam are from his tongue.>>Among these are great sins (kaba'ir)and blasphemy. In this age it has become common that people areso negligent and careless with their words to an extent somewould utter words which turn them out of Islam,yet they do not deem such words sinful despite them beingblasphemous. This complies with the saying of the Prophet, sallallahu^alayhi wa sallam, related by at-Tirmidhiyy: <<Aperson may utter a word he thinks is harmless, which results inhis falling the depth of 70 years into Hellfire.>> Thedepth of 70 years falling is the bottom of Hellfire, and it is aplace that only the blasphemers will reach. This hadithis explicit in showing uttering a word of blasphemy renders aperson a non-Muslim--even if he does not deem that word harmfulor a sin as such.

This hadith alsoshows that it is not a condition for committing blasphemy thatthe blasphemous saying be combined with either the belief in thatsaying or an action. The Prophet did not say: 'A person mightutter a word and believe in it...' Nor did he say: 'Aperson might utter a word and act in blasphemy...' Nor didhe say: 'A person might utter a word in seriousness...' Rather,he said: 'A person might utter a word he thinks harmless...'A similar hadith relatedby al-Bukhariyy and Muslim is proof that it is noteven conditional that one must know the judgment of the utteredblasphemous word for him to have committed blasphemy.

Uttering blasphemous words out of anger does not excuse aperson from committing blasphemy. Imaman­Nawawiyy said: "If a man was angry with his child orslave and hit him severely, then another person asked him, 'Howcan you do this? Aren't you a Muslim?' and to that his deliberateanswer--though angry--was, 'No,' he blasphemed." This wassaid by Hanafiyy scholars as well as others.

In his hadith, theProphet warned us against anger. His reply to a man who came tohim asking for advice was, <<Don't get angry.>> TheProphet warned us against anger because anger is not an excuse.Not controlling it can lead a person to various sins, includingblasphemy.

The scholars mentioned that the third category of apostasy,apostasy of sayings, is like the sea that has noshoreline--meaning the examples could go on and on, and theycited many examples in their books--again, a warning to peoplenot to speak words similar to them. For example, to curse Allahis blasphemy. He who curses Allah isnot a Muslim. It is blasphemy to curse one of the Prophets or oneof the Angels, as stated by Qadi ^IyadTo declare a Muslim a kafir withouta valid reason causes the person to become a non-Muslim, as wasmentioned by Mutawalli and al-Ghazaliyy. At-Tahawiyysaid that to attribute to Allah anyattribute of the creation--like age or time, body or place,organs or instruments, colors or shapes; or to say Allahhas a partner or a child--all are blasphemous sayings. Also,intending to blaspheme in the future contingent upon thehappening of a certain incident makes the person a blasphemerimmediately.

Let the person take heed of the advice and warnings of theProphet. Let him be extremely cautious not to let his tonguedrive him to a destructive situation. As mentioned by Imamal­Ghazaliyy, the tongue has such a small size but the crime(sin) it could commit could be so great. Other scholars said thetongue is like a fierce beast which will attack you if you do nottie it up. Brother Muslim, learn well this subject of apostasy inan effort to avoid committing any of it. It is an obligation onevery Muslim to protect his faith against whatever invalidates,interrupts and terminates it.

Then, if apostasy occurred from one, it is an obligation onhim to immediately return to Islamby leaving out what caused him to apostate anduttering with the Testification of Faith (two shahadas)with the intention of clearing himself of apostasy. Left on himis the obligation to regret having committed apostasy and tointend not to go back to something similar in the future.

Apostasy is not an easy issue, and not one to be takenlightly. Many judgments are incurred on the one who apostatesfrom Islam. Some examples are: theapostate's fasting and Dry Purification (Tayammum) areinvalid; it is not permissible to eat the meat he slaughters; heis not inherited, nor does he inherit; his marriage contract to aMuslim or non-Muslim is not valid. Moreover, the apostate losesall the reward of all the good deeds done prior to his committingapostasy, though all his sins remain. These sins are not erasedfor him should he go back to Islam,but rather require a separate repentance. Who among the peoplecan afford to have all his good deeds done and rewards earnederased by apostasy, to stand on the Day of Judgment with only hissins to be weighed?

Brother Muslim. Learn well this subject of apostasy. Itis the most abhorrent of sins. Do not be fooled by those whoclaim contrary to what the scholars of Islamclassified as apostasy. Do not be led astray to utteringblasphemous words out of ignorance, anger, or carelessness. Donot believe doing so is not blasphemy if not accompanied byliking or believing the meaning of those uttered blasphemouswords. Do not believe those who follow their opinions andcontradict the rules of the Religion and say: "Who are youto judge others as blasphemous?" while they, themselves, areignorant of the rules of the Religion on this vital subject, letalone the rules of the tenets of belief (^Aqidah),ablution (Wudu'), Prayer (Salah),and other.

Acquire the personal obligatory knowledge that leads tosuccess and acceptance of Allah andtakes away from the tortures of the Hereafter. Equip yourselfwith the hadith of theProphet, sallallahu ^alayhiwa sallam, narrated by Ibn Majah:<<If you learn a verse of the Book of Allah,it is more rewardable for you than praying one hundred (100) raka^s(of the supererogatory prayers); and if you go and learn aChapter of Knowledge it is more rewardable for you than prayingone thousand (1,000) raka^s (of the supererogatoryprayers).>>

Take your knowledge from trustworthy, God-fearing,knowledgeable teachers. Implement the advice of Ibn Sirinwhen he said: "Look thoroughly into whom you take yourknowledge from, for this knowledge is that of the Religion."Those must know it is obligatory upon us to order with what islawful and forbid what is unlawful. If a person commits blasphemywhat do we say about him? Do we say he is a believer? Certainlynot! Should we leave such a person drowning in that state ofblasphemy or should we reach out for him and rescue him byadvising him to leave the apostasy and return to Islam?If the person is receptive, we address him immediately anddirectly so that we would not be included in the hadithof the Prophet, sallallahu^alayhi wa sallam, <<If you see my nation fear to tellthe unjust person he is unjust, know that the support of Allahis withdrawn from them.:>> As reported in the Qur'an,blasphemy is the greatest of injustice, may Allahprotect us from it.