Is Obama a Muslim Apostate? A non-Issue

Posted on February 14, 2008


A recent posting on a blog on another blog seeks to ask whether Obama was ever a Muslim and if so, whether he has become an apostate.  The same article talks about the punishment in Islam with respect to apostasy.

There is no single verse in the Qur’an that prescribes a worldly punishment for apostasy. The Qur’an states the punishment only in the Hereafter. However, numerous verses in the Qur’an affirm freedom of religion and reject compulsion or coercion in religion; for example, see Chapter 2, verse 256.

In hadith, however, there are some texts signifying capital punishment for apostasy. However, scholars differed about the interpretation of these texts. Some made a distinction between apostasy which coupled with fighting against Muslims, committing a capital crime or committing an act of “high treason” against the state. According to this interpretation, capital punishment is because of these crimes, not mere leaving Islam. Other scholars made no such distinction. However, the first interpretation is supported by a number of other sound hadiths which show that when a man in Madinah apostated from Islam, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) neither ordered his execution nor punished him in any other way, and when the man finally left Madinah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never sent anyone to arrest him or punish him because of his apostasy.

If indeed the capital punishment for apostasy is a hadd (specified mandatory punishment) one would expect that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would be the first one to implement the law of Allah.

These hadiths are reported in Al-Bukhari, the most authentic collection of hadith, in the book of Al-Ahkaam which is found in the English translation by M. Mohsen Khan, Volume 9, hadith number 316, 318, and 323, pages 241, 242, and 246. They are also reported in Fath Al-Bari, volume 13 under Kitab Al-Ahkam, hadith number 7209, 7211, and 7216.

When quoting hadiths, it is very important to take them in context to what the Qu’ran also says.  The Qur’an as the Word of God always supercedes the hadith.  Please read the following post from my blog which clarifies the Muslim position on apostates and choice of one’s religion (as stated in the Qur’an):