Apostasy and People of the Book

Devadatta

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My understanding of the Qur’an is elementary, to be sure, but what I see is a fairly complex, contested relationship between Muslims and the People of the Book.

First, the Qur’an affirms in a number of places that Christians & Jews who follow the laws of their prophets will have nothing to fear on judgement day, for the simple reason that all the prophets from Adam to Jesus were messengers of the one God and delivered the same truth. From that point of view, switching from Muslim to Christian or Jew should hardly affect one’s salvation. Therefore to punish a converted Christian or Jew as an apostate is simply illogical.

But the Qur’an also maintains in numerous places that Christians & Jews – at least the ones Muhammad was dealing with – were a degenerate lot, the majority of which had fallen away from true submission to God, though a small minority were virtuous and should be respected. So here you might say that while being a Christian or Jew may bring salvation, you would have a far better chance as a Muslim. From this point of view, it would be reasonable to strongly advise against Christian or Jewish conversion, but hardly reasonable to bring the full and perhaps deadly weight of apostasy to bear.

But in addition the Qur’an strongly maintains that Christians are in dreadful error when they ascribe divinity to Jesus. So that Christians who follow Jesus not just as a prophet but as God would appear to be, from the Muslim point of view, committing blasphemy, which again from the Muslim point of view amounts to apostasy. Therefore a Muslim converting to a mainline Christian church that affirms the divinity of Christ would appear to be the most serious case of apostasy, as it relates to People of the Book. The question remains though, whether a death sentence, except as a bluff, really makes sense, when the apostate will suffer eternal torment in any case, and the longer he lives on Earth the greater chance he has of renouncing his apostasy.

Now what I’ve laid out here are some of the issues of apostasy strictly as it pertains to the relationship between believers and Allah, but as you know that’s not the way orthodox Islam views apostasy. For orthodox Islam, as reaffirmed by modern figures like Maududi, apostasy is identical with treason, and treason is any defection from the umma. From that point of view, it hardly matters what the believer converts to; it only matters that the believer has left the polity of Islam. Fundamentally, we’re talking about a political, not a religious crime.

As a non-Muslim, this reasoning seems to me mistaken. It rests first of all on the literalism of taking the Muslim community, as self-defined, to be identical with the umma of Allah. To me this is to underestimate Allah, and is in effect a kind of blasphemy. It’s equivalent to some Christians who limit the body of Christ to the professors of this or that creed, or to members of this or that church. To set such boundaries to the community of believers is to usurp the prerogatives of God, to set political above spiritual needs, and to dislocate God’s law in favour of man’s.

Sincerely,
Devadatta
 
Devadatta said:
First, the Qur’an affirms in a number of places that Christians & Jews who follow the laws of their prophets will have nothing to fear on judgement day, for the simple reason that all the prophets from Adam to Jesus were messengers of the one God and delivered the same truth. From that point of view, switching from Muslim to Christian or Jew should hardly affect one’s salvation. Therefore to punish a converted Christian or Jew as an apostate is simply illogical.
h| Devadatta,
This was discussed in another thread some time ago. Please click this.
Regarding the rest of your post, didnt we discuss with you on the subject of apostacy in the Abdul Rehman thread? Anyway, doesnt matter what reason anyone gives... the real reason it is done because the Prophet(pbuh) ordered it so. End of story.So, doesnt matter if you agree with Maududi's or anyone elses reasons or not.
regards,
thipps.
 
thipps said:
h| Devadatta,
This was discussed in another thread some time ago. Please click this.
Regarding the rest of your post, didnt we discuss with you on the subject of apostacy in the Abdul Rehman thread? Anyway, doesnt matter what reason anyone gives... the real reason it is done because the Prophet(pbuh) ordered it so. End of story.So, doesnt matter if you agree with Maududi's or anyone elses reasons or not.
regards,
thipps.

See my response on "Islam in relation to other religions thread".

Sincerely,
Devadatta
 
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