How does Shariah define, “apostasy,” and are apostates distinguished from the “believers,” in the sense of there being rights and privileges to which the apostates are not entitled? Is apostasy a type of permanence, meaning if it is done once, it stands forever, or can even an apostate return to the fold of Islam? Could you please tell me if the following scenario fittingly describes an apostate?
A man, born into a Muslim family and who is Muslim by first and last name, does the following a public setting: when asked to disclose his religion in public, from options of “Muslim,” “Christian,” “Jewish,” “Hindu,” “Anglican,” etc., he provides that he is, “Non-religious.” Would this activity be considered apostasy?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
The term used to describe apostasy in the Islamic tradition is Riddah, which in its literal sense means backsliding. In its terminological definition, apostasy describes the action whereby an adult Muslim denounces Islam either by speech or belief or action.[i] [ii] In other words, Apostasy refers to “disbelieving after acceptingproclaiming the religion of Islam”.
Apostasy is not permanent. If someone says or commits an act which constitutes Kufr (al iyadhu billah), then if he makes tauba and returns to Islam by reciting Kalima al-Shahadah, he will now be a Muslim.
In the enquired situation, if the person in reference is well-known by all to be a Muslim and no other reason is found which proves otherwise, then he will be considered a Muslim and his statement will not let him out of the fold of Islam. The answer “Non-religious” provided by him to the question posed, can be interpreted in multiple ways. It could have been said to demonstrate that he is a “non-practicing” Muslim. The use of the specific word was not with the intention to declare apostasy per se, but to hide his religion in open, for whatsoever reason it may be. This, however, does not necessitate his denouncement of Islam as his religion. Therefore, this will not be considered apostasy.[v] However, his action is to be condemned.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Naved Akhtar Ibn Shabbir.
Student – Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
[i]معجم المصطلحات و الألفاظ الفقهية، الجزء الثاني, ص: 141
واصطلاحا: هي الاتيان بما يخرج به الإسلام، اما نطفا أو اعتقادا أو شكا ينقل عن الإسلام و قد يحصل بالفعل.
[ii] معجم اللغة الفقهاء، ص:221
الردة: الخروج عن الإسلام بإتيان ما يخرج عنه قولا أو اعتقادا أو فعلا
[iii] Fatawa Khatme Nubuwwat, Vol:1, Pg: 384
[iv] Wirasat o Wasiyyat ke Shar’i Ahkaam, Pg: 87
[v] الفتاوى البزازية, المجلد الثاني, ص: 450 (دار الكتب العلمية)
ولو قال: هب أني لست بمسلم لا يكفر. وقيل في قوله لست بمسلم لا يكفر أيضا قياسا على هذا لأن معناه عند الناس أفعاله ليس بأفعال أهل الاسلام
“My greatest counsel in life is the concept of Taqdeer. I simply submit to the will of Allah. I do not rely on anyone and I do not blame anyone. My focus is only on Allah”-@MuftiEbrahim (Twitter)