How Do We Understand the Apparent Double Standard regarding Islam’s Apostasy Laws?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick 

Question

How do we understand the apparent double standard regarding Islam’s apostasy laws?

If changing your religion and publicly denouncing it entails death, were the Quraysh justified in their reaction and treatment of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them)? Is it not expected that a Muslim convert preaching in his non-Muslim country should be killed?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to what pleases Him.

Naturally a religion, any religion would not hold apostates in good light. Islam, like other religions, claims to be the truth and would, therefore, not treat apostates from other religions who embrace Islam, as it would apostates from Islam. The last part of your question is problematic: expected by whom?

Only One Truth

Every religion claims to be the truth, and most religions claim to be the only truth. There is and has always been only one way of life with God. That way consists of submission to Him alone by following the teachings of His Prophets (may Allah bless them and give them peace). Different religions came about when people chose to accept some Prophets and reject others. The ‘Way of Life’ we refer to as Islam is the preserved and continued legacy of God’s Prophets. This, among other facts, demonstrate that Islam’s claim to truth is substantiated.

Allah says: “Certainly, Allah’s only Way is Islam (complete submission). Those who were given the Scripture did not dispute ˹among themselves˺ out of mutual envy until knowledge came to them. Whoever denies Allah’s signs, then surely Allah is swift in reckoning.” [Quran, 3:19]

Allah also says: “Whoever seeks a way other than Islam, it will never be accepted from them, and in the Hereafter, they will be among the losers.” [Quran, 3:85]

Moving to and from Truth

In light of the above, anyone who embraces Islam embraces all of God’s Books, Messengers, and teachings. In other words, they embraced the truth. On the other hand, anyone who leaves Islam, by definition, rejects some of the above elements. In other words, they reject the truth.

Therefore, it would not make sense for Islam to treat apostates from other religions as apostates from Islam, and Allah knows best.

I pray this benefits and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.