Some traditions by the Prophet on killing apostates

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Some say that killing those who leave Islam is an Islamic duty. Sheikh dr Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Bouti al-Shafi’i, dean of the Shari’a Faculty of Damascus University, said in his book Jihad, how to understand and practice it that both Islamic extremists and those with hostility towards Islam have much in common in their approach to Islamic scholasticism and their conclusions. One of these approaches is the common misconception that Islam orders the ummah to kill ‘apostates’ meaning those who leave the way of Prophet Muhammad pbuh and the House of Islam, because the ahadith prescribe so. It is not an easy topic, however, ahadith show how some of the Prophet’s near companions may have misunderstood  and disobeyed his words and how the Prophet disapproved some of their efforts, but also how some of their actions took place after the Prophet’s death. The Qur’an, as said above allows for such action only in war situations when Muslims suffer persecution. ‘Ali, son in law of the Prophet and fourth caliph, appears to have burned apostates and atheists and Khalid bin al Walid had killed ‘disbelieving’ captives. In Bin al Walid’s case it is certain that the Prophet disapproved of his actions. In the case of ‘Ali it happened after the prophet’s death and it is not sure that Ibn ‘Abbas properly understood this tradition by the prophet. Nevertheless, the Qur’anic verdicts on apostacy and hypocrisy remain valid without any reservation and they are clear as it is. Therefore let me show some ahadith on the subject:

Volume 1, Book 3, Number 131:

Narrated Anas:

I was informed that the Prophet had said to Mu’adh, “Whosoever will meet Allah without associating anything in worship with Him will go to Paradise.” Mu’adh asked the Prophet, “Should I not inform the people of this good news?” The Prophet replied, “No, I am afraid, lest they should depend upon it (absolutely).”

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 628:

Narrated Salim’s father:

The Prophet sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the tribe of Jadhima and Khalid invited them to Islam but they could not express themselves by saying, “Aslamna (i.e. we have embraced Islam),” but they started saying “Saba’na! Saba’na (i.e. we have come out of one religion to another).” Khalid kept on killing (some of) them and taking (some of) them as captives and gave every one of us his Captive. When there came the day then Khalid ordered that each man (i.e. Muslim soldier) should kill his captive, I said, “By Allah, I will not kill my captive, and none of my companions will kill his captive.” When we reached the Prophet, we mentioned to him the whole story. On that, the Prophet raised both his hands and said twice, “O Allah! I am free from what Khalid has done.”

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 630:

Narrated Abu Burda:

Allah’s Apostle sent Abu Musa and Muadh bin Jabal to Yemen. He sent each of them to administer a province as Yemen consisted of two provinces. The Prophet said (to them), “Facilitate things for the people and do not make things difficult for them (Be kind and lenient (both of you) with the people, and do not be hard on them) and give the people good tidings and do not repulse them. So each of them went to carry on his job. So when any one of them toured his province and happened to come near (the border of the province of) his companion, he would visit him and greet him. Once Mu’adh toured that part of his state which was near (the border of the province of) his companion Abu Musa. Mu’adh came riding his mule till he reached Abu Musa and saw him sitting, and the people had gathered around him. Behold! There was a man tied with his hands behind his neck. Mu’adh said to Abu Musa, “O ‘Abdullah bin Qais! What is this?” Abu Musa replied. “This man has reverted to Heathenism after embracing Islam.” Mu’adh said, “I will not dismount till he is killed.” Abu Musa replied, “He has been brought for this purpose, so come down.” Mu’adh said, “I will not dismount till he is killed.” So Abu Musa ordered that he be killed, and he was killed. Then Mu’adh dismounted and said, “O Abdullah (bin Qais)! How do you recite the Qur’an ?” Abu Musa said, “I recite the Qur’an regularly at intervals and piecemeal. How do you recite it O Mu’adh?” Mu’adh said, “I sleep in the first part of the night and then get up after having slept for the time devoted for my sleep and then recite as much as Allah has written for me. So I seek Allah’s Reward for both my sleep as well as my prayer (at night).”

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 634:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

Allah’s Apostle said to Muadh bin Jabal when he sent him to Yemen. “You will come to the people of Scripture, and when you reach them, invite them to testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is His Apostle. And if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers to be performed every day and night. And if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Sadaqa (i.e. Rakat) to be taken from the rich amongst them and given to the poor amongst them. And if they obey you in that, then be cautious! Don’t take their best properties (as Zakat) and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 687:

Narrated Jarir:

The Prophet ordered me during Hajjatul-Wada’. “Ask the people to listen.” He then said, “Do not become infidels after me by cutting the necks (throats) of one another. ”

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 688:

Narrated Abu Bakra:

The Prophet said, “Time has taken its original shape which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. The year is of twelve months, four of which are sacred, and out of these (four) three are in succession, i.e. Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijja and Al-Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab which is named after the Mudar tribe, between (the month of) Jumaida (ath-thania) and Sha’ban.” Then the Prophet asked, “Which is this month?” We said, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” On that the Prophet kept quiet so long that we thought that he might name it with another name. Then the Prophet said, “Isn’t it the month of Dhul-Hijja?” We replied, “Yes.” Then he said, “Which town is this?” “We replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” On that he kept quiet so long that we thought that he might name it with another name. Then he said, “Isn’t it the town of Mecca?” We replied, “Yes, ” Then he said, “Which day is today?” We replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” He kept quiet so long that we thought that he might name it with another name. Then he said, “Isn’t it the day of An-Nahr (i.e. sacrifice)?” We replied, “Yes.” He said, “So your blood, your properties, (The sub-narrator Muhammad said, ‘I think the Prophet also said: And your honor..) are sacred to one another like the sanctity of this day of yours, in this city of yours, in this month of yours; and surely, you will meet your Lord, and He will ask you about your deeds. Beware! Do not become infidels after me, cutting the throats of one another. It is incumbent on those who are present to convey this message (of mine) to those who are absent. May be that some of those to whom it will be conveyed will understand it better than those who have actually heard it.” (The sub-narrator, Muhammad, on remembering that narration, used to say, “Muhammad spoke the truth!”) He (i.e. Prophet) then added twice, “No doubt! Haven’t I conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you?”

Volume 6, Book 60, Number 430:

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:

We were in a Ghazwa and a man from the emigrants kicked an Ansari (on the buttocks with his foot). The Ansari man said, “O the Ansari! (Help!)” The emigrant said, “O the emigrants! (Help).” When Allah’s Apostle heard that, he said, “What is that?” They said, “A man from the emigrants kicked a man from the Ansar (on the buttocks his foot). On that the Ansar said, ‘O the Ansar!’ and the emigrant said, ‘O the emigrants!” The Prophet said’ “Leave it (that call) for it Is a detestable thing.” The number of Ansar was larger (than that of the emigrants) at the time when the Prophet came to Medina, but later the number of emigrants increased. ‘Abdullah bin Ubai said, “Have they, (the emigrants) done so? By Allah, if we return to Medina, surely, the more honorable will expel therefrom the meaner,” ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Let me chop off the head of this hypocrite!” The Prophet said, “Leave him, lest the people say Muhammad kills his companions:”

Volume 8, Book 76, Number 515:

Narrated Abu Musa:

The Prophet said, “Whoever loves the meeting with Allah, Allah too, loves the meeting with him; and whoever hates the meeting with Allah, Allah too, hates the meeting with him.”

Volume 9, Book 84, Number 56:

Narrated Ibn Mas’ud:

A man said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we be punished for what we did in the Prelslamic Period of ignorance?” The Prophet said, “Whoever does good in Islam will not be punished for what he did in the Pre-lslamic Period of ignorance and whoever does evil in Islam will be punished for his former and later (bad deeds).”

Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:

Narrated ‘Ikrima:

Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”

Volume 9, Book 88, Number 200:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The Prophet said, “Beware! Do not renegade as (disbelievers) after me by striking (cutting) the necks of one another.”

Volume 9, Book 88, Number 201:

Narrated Jarir:

The Prophet said to me during Hajjat-al-Wada’, “Let the people keep quiet and listen.” Then he said (addressing the people), “Beware! Do not renegade as disbelievers after me by striking (cutting) the necks of one another.”

Now it is time to go indepth and try and answer the question what it is: faith in the creed of Islam.

Source: University of Southern California USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts

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