True Freedom of Religion Is Two-Way Traffic
By Jacob Thomas
In Islam freedom of religion implies that members of other faiths are encouraged to Islamize; on the other hand, a Muslim may not convert to another religion. Early in the history of Islam, this radical position became solidified against anyone who dared to go back on his or her Muslim faith. It had its origin in the defection of several Arab tribes from the Islamic Umma, soon after news about the death of Muhammad had reached them. In the summer of 632 A.D., Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and father of the Prophet’s favorite wife, Aisha, mounted military campaigns against the rebels and forced them back into the fold of Islam. Abu Bakr’s campaigns are known in Arabic as Huroob al-Radda, i.e. the wars against apostasy.
Eventually, the Four Sunni Schools for the interpretation of the Shari’ah codified the rules regarding the sin of apostasy (radda) and declared that, unless an apostate repents, he or she is to be punished with death. This harsh attitude towards Muslims who convert to other religions is based on the belief that Muhammad was Allah’s final messenger to mankind. To go back on Islam and renounce the Shahadah (Islamic confession of the radical unity of Allah, and the Prophethood of Muhammad) is tantamount to committing the unpardonable sin. Several Qur’anic verses may be adduced as a basis for this harsh treatment of the apostates; sufficient here is the following ayah (text) from Surah (chapter) Aal ‘Imran, a Medinan Chapter 3:85
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