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Apostasy

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

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    Apostasy

    Renunciation of one's religion. The Arabic terms (riddah, irtidad) are not used in the Quran, but it promises dire consequences in the afterlife for those who “turn from” or “renounce” (yartaddu, 2:217; 5:54) and “those who disbelieve after having believed” (3:81ff.; 5:61; 9:66; 4:137; 16:106). Hadith reports introduce the teaching that renunciation of Islam is punishable by beheading, burning, crucifixion, or banishment. Some traditions allow an apostate to repent. Islamic legal codes agree on the death penalty (traditionally by the sword) for an adult male in full possession of his faculties who has renounced Islam voluntarily. Thus apostasy was included among crimes for which there were punishments believed to be divinely mandated (hadd pl. hudud, “offenses”). Some schools of law allow imprisonment instead of death for apostate women. The schools vary on the question of whether or not an apostate may be allowed, encouraged, or disallowed to repent, as well as on the status of an apostate's property after death or banishment, but they agree that the marriage of an apostate is void. Based on the Quranic prohibition of coercion in matters of religion ( 2:257 ), many modern thinkers argue against capital punishment for apostasy, and the legislation is rarely invoked today.

    See also Kufr; Murtadd

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