The prospect of the death penalty for Abdul Raman, an Afghan who has converted to Christianity is a blatant violation of the primacy of the Holy Qur’an. Contrary to what the Muslim ulama (theologians) in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) might claim, there is not a SINGLE Qur’anic verse that justifies earthly penalty or a worldly sentence for either heresy or apostasy in Islam. The scripture is unequivocal: God alone in the Hereafter, not men here, will deliver the ultimate verdict and chastisement. (Qur’an 2:217; 2:256; 3:90; 4:137; 5:54; 10:99, 18:29; 74:11; 109:6).
The misconceived dogma of imposing capital punishment or other religious retribution for philosophical dissent or abjuring one’s faith in Islam stems not from supreme Qur’anic injunctions but from secondary and subordinate human interpretations, including spurious prophetic sayings (ahadith), the schismatic views of variant schools of thought (madhabib) and imperfect ecclesiastical opinions(ijmah/fatawah). The Muslim clergy in Afghanistan (and in Britain as well) have given an unwarranted superiority to the shari’ah (the fallible exclusively male perspectives of Islamic jurisprudence) instead of the inviolate letter and spirit of God’s word. In Islam, no human edict can overturn explicit divine law.
Under the pernicious influence of repressive Wahhabism and its extremist offshoots, like the Deobandi sect in the Indian sub-continent, Muslim leaders in contemporary times have falsely asserted that legal sanctions for political treason apply to freedom of conscious and belief. Any systematic study of the Qur’an will expose their willful corruption of primary Islamic precepts.
Muslims should therefore not defer to unsound theological arguments from those who infringe sublime Qur’anic commandments. The clerical classes, by endorsing the death penalty for Abdul Rahman, not only defy the transcendent text that guarantees human rights, but they also deny him natural justice.
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This MECO Media Statement was published in the INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER on 25th February 2006