To the Afghan who converted to Christianity…Your freedom of choice should be respected
Originally published in Arabic on April 4 2006
Translated by Mohammad Dandan
In the name of God The Merciful The compassionate
When I was in Turra prison in 1987, there was with us in the same cell, an Egyptian young man who converted to Christianity, from Islam. Although a decree in his favor to be released was issued, the state security people refused to set him free, so he went on a hunger strike. My cellmates looked at him with disgust; I said to them, regardless of my disagreement with him in matters of creed, as a Muslim, I have to respect his freedom of choice. Matter of fact, he should be applauded and admired for publicly declaring his faith and holding on to it despite all the hardships he went through. The Quranists among the cellmates were convinced and stood by him until he was released, before we were. I recalled this story when Abdurrahman the Afghan, announced his conversion to Christianity and insisted on embracing it, despite all the hardships they caused him. Here, I would like to reiterate again what I have said before: I am a Muslim, very proud and well-grounded in my belief and will hold on to it until the day I die. At the same time, I declare, based on my Islamic belief, my respect for his freedom in choosing whatever he wants as a belief, whether it agreed with mine or not, moreover, I voice my admiration for him because he withstood all pressures and threats of death.
Being a scholar who graduated from Al-Azher University, specializing in Islam, I say that those who imprisoned Christianized Abdurrahman the Afghan abused Islam and contradicted it, and proved that the gap between them and genuine Islam is enormous. Here I am speaking of their deeds and actions, not of their hearts and beliefs
I will not repeat what I already have mentioned in my book (The penalty of Apostasy), available on the internet, which proves that this penalty contradicts Islam and that it is no more than an Abbasid political fabrications, of two narrations falsely attributed to prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
But I will show briefly that they, without their knowledge, have committed the most heinous sin by alleging Divinity, worse off, they elevated themselves above Almighty God. For it was Him who chose that people should have free will in their beliefs, free to believe after denial, and free in denial after belief, free to obey, and free to disobey, That is how God created them,. They are responsible as long as they have freedom of choice. So if they forgot or were forced, they are not held responsible. Consequently, those Afghans who persecuted The Christianized Afghan, elevate themselves above the Almighty, because they give themselves the right to interfere in issues that Allah prohibited any to interfere in and that is religion.
They also put themselves ahead and above the prophet (PBUH) who did not have any religious or temporal authority allowing him to interfere in people’s convictions. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used to get saddened (only) when one of his companions would revert to old ways, Revelation would come down forbidding him, not to feel saddened, because those who reverted did not want to have any good fortune in the hereafter, Aal-Imraan (3-176)
YUSUFALI: Let not those grieve thee who rush headlong into Unbelief: Not the least harm will they do to Allah: Allah's plan is that He will give them no portion in the Hereafter, but a severe punishment.
PICKTHAL: Let not their conduct grieve thee, who run easily to disbelief, for lo! they injure Allah not at all. It is Allah's Will to assign them no portion in the Hereafter, and theirs will be an awful doom.
SHAKIR: And let not those grieve you who fall into unbelief hastily; surely they can do no harm to Allah at all; Allah intends that He should not give them any portion in the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement
Prophet Mohammad’s grief (PBUH) was based on his close acquaintance with them, his love for them and his profound desire for their well being, yet all those honorable good sentiments are not enough to justify interference in people’s free choice of their beliefs.. It is not permissible for a father to interfere in his son’s belief when the son comes of age, under the guise of love for him and concern for his welfare. He can only advice, discuss but no coercion, and the son has the absolute freedom in choosing whatever set of beliefs, immaterial whether it was in agreement with, or different than his father’s. At the end, every one is responsible for his life, his deeds and his beliefs; no one will bear the load of another, a person’s deeds in this life is what matters later on, and as Almighty God created us individually, We will meet with Him individually too on Day of Resurrection. Each one of us will come by themselves to be judged, no intercession and no one to intercede on his behalf except his deeds, his good deeds will bail him out, and if not, his bad deeds will witness against him
If a father does not have the right to interfere in his son’s/daughter‘s belief, it is more so when it comes to society or state For the Quranic precept is (No coercion in religion) meaning no coercion to enter a religion, no coercion to leave a religion, no coercion in performing or not performing religious duties. All matters of religion, all matters dealing in relationship between the Creator and His creation, coercion has no place within it. Religion, faith, belief all are private, very private relations between the individual and his Creator .be it belief or disbelief, obedience or disobedience, Man has the freedom of choice and he is responsible for his choices, before his Creator, Glory be to Him.
As a form of backward mentality exemplified by Wahhabism and practiced by the Saudi state is to coerce people to pray by the (Enforcers) with their thick sticks and heavy handed approach. God almighty does not accept a prayer unless it is sincere and offered in reverence and humility. Do the Enforcers’ thick sticks put sincerity and humility in their hearts? What if God Almighty left the hearts free to be humble or to be hypocritical or to be deceitful? Would the sticks of the Enforcers be higher in status than God Almighty? Some hypocrites used to fake prayers just to look good and impress the believing community, Quranic revelation came down to expose their deceit, asserting that they deceive none except themselves and their final abode, despite of their prayers will be the very bottom of hellfire. AN-NISA (WOMEN)
YUSUFALI: The Hypocrites - they think they are over-reaching Allah, but He will over-reach them: When they stand up to prayer, they stand without earnestness, to be seen of men, but little do they hold Allah in remembrance;
PICKTHAL: Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is He Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little;
SHAKIR: Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them, and when they stand up to prayer they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah save a little.
YUSUFALI: (They are) distracted in mind even in the midst of it,- being (sincerely) for neither one group nor for another whom Allah leaves straying,- never wilt thou find for him the way.
PICKTHAL: Swaying between this (and that), (belonging) neither to these nor to those. He whom Allah causeth to go astray, thou (O Muhammad) wilt not find a way for him:
SHAKIR: Wavering between that (and this), (belonging) neither to these nor to those; and whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall not find a way for him.
YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you?
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?
YUSUFALI: The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them;-
PICKTHAL: Lo! the hypocrites (will be) in the lowest deep of the Fire, and thou wilt find no helper for them;
SHAKIR: Surely the hypocrites are in the lowest stage of the fire and you shall not find a helper for them.
For the prayers and all good deeds to be accepted, they have to be sincere and true desire to please Allah Almighty, it could not be attained through coercion and oppression. And whosoever interferes in the personal freedom by coercion puts himself in a state of antagonism and hostility and rivalry with Almighty God.
Religion belongs to Almighty God alone. It is He Who chose to create mankind with free will, He chose that there is going to be no coercion in religion, He chose that everyone is going to be free in his choice, responsible for his choice, whether to believe or not, He chose to have a Day of Resurrection to judge people according to their deeds and beliefs. In all those details, Allah Almighty is the Final Judge with no interference from ecclesiastical or any other human interference. For that reason, the primary objective of legislating warfare in Islam is to fight to protect freedom of choice and to prevent coercion where Religion will be for Allah Almighty alone with no compulsion or coercion.
AL-BAQARA (THE COW)
YUSUFALI: And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.
PICKTHAL: And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.
SHAKIR: And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. Also AL-ANFAL (SPOILS OF WAR, BOOTY)
YUSUFALI: And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.
PICKTHAL: And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do.
SHAKIR: And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do
Truth be told, those religo-political systems that enforce the apostasy penalty, do so by adhering to the Salafi jurisprudence and it is contradictory to Islam in its precepts, its goals, its details and its rulings. We expanded on those matters in previous writings of ours. This Salafi jurisprudence was written during the medieval ages, between the Muslims’ camp and the western crusaders. From those concepts, emerged the terms, the abode of peace and the abode of war, and the continuation of the struggle.
Some of the terms of that struggle are to consider the one who reverted away from his religion a traitor who joined ranks with the enemy. If you were to read Ash-shaaf’ee book titled (Al-Umm..The mother), you will find that the term apostate was wrapped with those militarized political views.
Although we are living in the 21st century, yet Wahhabism succeeded in reviving that stifling Salafi thought back into our times, and with the help of oil money it became rooted in our psyche as true Islam, through media, education, culture and mosques. American policy aided and abetted indirectly in implementing this culture of Wahhabism until the United States became its victim.
This culture of the masses considers the (abode of Islam) to be the (people of Mohammad) and considers the European and American West to be the (abode of war), and whoever Christianizes, is a traitor to the people of Mohammad, by doing so, he closes ranks with the enemies of people of Mohammad, thereby deserving to be killed.
Abdurrahman the Afghan, the Christian, faced that bloody culture with courage declaring his conversion. He could have appeased and dissimulated those around him, but he chose to be frank, open and clear in societies willful in considering hypocrisy the basis for dealing with each other. Because he differed with them in their belief in (people of Mohammad) and because he differed with them in their behavior (hypocrisy and color changing), they wanted to punish him..
It is not up to us to judge people’s intentions and beliefs and what hearken in their hearts, it is for Allah Almighty on Resurrection Day, but we can judge behavior and conduct, for they are external traits, so based on that alone, that Christianized Afghan is better than those who persecuted him because of his conversion away from Islam.
Muslims will remain in a state of antagonism with Islam as long as they, in their belief, deify Mohammad (PBUH), they consider themselves (People Of Mohammad) .We have tackled this concept in another article of ours ,titled (Who is the other in Islam).
This bring to mind a joke that made the Azher circuits during the seventies of last century, it goes like this:
An Azher student, when done with his finals, asked his friend to call him in his remote village and tell him about the results of the exam. He wanted him to use coded words to deliver the results. He told him, if he failed a subject to say, Mohammad says salaam to you, and if he failed two subjects, to say two Mohammads say salaams to you. Two months go by, so the friend goes by the university to check out the results. He found out that his buddy failed all his subjects, he called him and said: all Mohammad’s people send their salaams.
Poor nation…because of its ignorance……it became the butt of jokes of other nations…