Friday, October 17, 2008

Bassam Zawadi Responds to Sami Zaatari on the Killing of Apostates

Bassam's defense of killing apostates ("Of Course Apostates Should Be Killed!") isn't directed specifically to Sami Zaatari, but it isn't difficult to see that Sami is his target. In Sami's debate on whether Islam is a religion of peace, he repeatedly declared, with absolutely no evidence to support his claim, that the numerous ahadith demanding that apostates be killed only referred to certain people during the time of the early Muslim community (e.g. spies). But it's perfectly clear that this is not what Muhammad said or meant:

Sahih al-Bukhari 6878—Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) and that I am the Messenger of Allah, cannot be shed except in three cases: (1) Life for life; (2) a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and (3) the one who turns renegade from Islam (apostate) and leaves the group of Muslims.

Sahih al-Bukhari 6921—Ibn Umar, Az-Zuhri and Ibrahim said, “A female apostate (who reverts from Islam), should be killed.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6922—Allah’s Messenger [said], “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”

Sami, then, is plainly wrong. I expected Muslims to remain silent about Sami's error; nevertheless, Bassam has shown that, while Sami is dear to him, the Truth is dearer still. (This is why I think that Bassam will ultimately become a Christian.)

I think it's interesting to note that, according to Bassam, there are two primary reasons why someone might reject Islam's demand that apostates be killed. First, someone might have little or no faith in Islam. Second, someone might be influenced by non-Muslim standards of morality.

What does this say about Sami? I agree with Bassam completely. Sami either doesn't have much faith in Islam, or he's been influenced by Western values. (There is a third possibility, however. Sami could be lying about what he believes in order to deceive non-Muslims into thinking that Islam is peaceful.) Perhaps Sami can tell us which reason applies to him. (But I suspect that he'll just start complaining about the war in Iraq.)

Bassam's defense of the killing of apostates raises a number of questions. His primary justification, in effect, is that apostates may lead other people astray. Hence, it's better to kill them so that they don't lead other people to hell. If this is the case, however, why would this only apply in Muslim countries? Can't apostates in America lead Muslims astray? Wouldn't it be better to kill them? And why wouldn't Bassam's defense apply to people like me? I didn't leave Islam, but I'm spreading the truth about Muhammad. Wouldn't it be better to kill me than to let me speak the truth? Shouldn't James White, Robert Spencer, William Lane Craig, Sam Shamoun, Jay Smith, etc., all be killed, since they're leading people away from Islam?

I hope that Bassam can clarify this. But regardless of whether he does or not, I hope that he will continue to expose the false teachings of Muslims who have more respect for their own feelings and for Western values than for the clear teachings of Muhammad.

(On a completely different note, as someone who teaches Philosophical Ethics, I find Bassam's discussion of "Divine Command Theory" woefully inadequate. But I'll have to address that at a different time.)


Bassam said...

I am not aware that Sami Zaatari holds to the position that you said he does David.

Sami Zaatari in his debate with you only said that the apostates that the Prophet had killed were ones that fought him, which is true when I think about all the individual cases.

Sami Zaatari didn't make a general claim that only apostates who fight Islam should be killed. if that is what he believes, then he is wrong. Let us let Sami clarify.

As for Muslims not applying it in Western countries, it is because it is forbidden in our religion to impose jurisprudential laws on others without governmental authority. So Islam dictates that, not our personal feelings.



Dk said...

I'm glad Zawadi understands what Islamic Fiqh has to say on the issue, however his attempted justification or defense of this penalty is: God commands it therefore it is morally right.

That is as good as me picking out any character in any book (fiction or non-fiction, Horus, Hitler or whoever) and point out there commands are morally right because they just are!

This isn't a defense at all, this is an irrational leap of faith, and clearly NOT objective morality.

What Bassam accuses the athiests of doing he himself does:

"If the person arguing is an atheist then this is not a problem. One who does not believe in God does not have an objective standard of morality to abide by anyways. So he might be using his culture or personal opinions and feelings as a standard to critique the law of killing apostates. If that is the case, then this argument is not threatening at all because it is not based on an objective standard, but a subjective emotional one."

This shows Zawadi hasn't read anything at all on the subject by atheist philosphers. Michael Martin for example is an atheist philospher who believes there is objective morality without God and argues his case for it.

But more importantly Zawadi accuses us of having no objective standard while he himself subscribes to the Divine Command Theory! the Quran is a perfect example of the DCT where Allah can command anything he wants to, no matter how immoral it is and pass it off as righteous.

Zawadi isn't following an objective source of morality at all, Allah is a flip flop.

"If the person arguing is a Christian we are going to assume that his moral law giver is the God of the Bible. Have they proven that the law of killing apostates cannot possibly be a law put forth by God? No they cannot. One can easily appeal to the Old Testament and point out verses that order the killing of apostates.

These Christians might argue back that this law was a long time ago, but now we are in the 21st century. However, this response is weak because GOD'S LAWS ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO ADAPT WITH THE TIMES, but vice versa."

I'll leave it up to the Christians here to clear up this blunder. But once again DCT shows us Muslims have relative morality, the Islamic God's laws DO adapt with people and there needs, desires, etc over time, one example being alcohol:

In conclussion we have one false claim: "GOD'S LAWS ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO ADAPT WITH THE TIMES" Allah persistantly does this, thus he needs to send down another revelation for the time period of secular western democracies aswell, outlawing a penalty that is no longer acceptable for human conduct and society.

And wee see DCT doesn't give believers an OBJECTIVE SOURCE of morality, but rather a CONDITIONAL SOURCE of Morality that is dependant on the moodswings of a lunatic deity.

Bassam said...

DK, William Lane Craig explains very well euthyphro's dilemma and argues that DCT is not arbitrary.

Secondly, tell me the arguments of Michael Martin regarding your objective moral standard. I have not seen any argument that stood its ground and many Christians would even agree with me on this point.

Thirdly, I argued that killing of apostates is logical if Islam is true. The topic is not whether Islam is a true religion. The argument is that there is nothing incoherent about the law of killing of apostates if God does exist and I was also explaining it from the Islamic perspective. The point of the argument is that you can't say that Islam is false just because of this law of killing apostates.

Anyways, I don't think you gave a comprehensive rebuttal to my article nor understood it properly, so need for me to reply back to anything that you said.



Fernando said...

1: Killing a fellow human is the worst sin that can exist in the universe, since it's killing a God's image;
2: Any true God doesn't love those who sin;
3: Either Allah is lying when he says - without rephrasing its pedagogical revelation - one should kill human beings; or he is a false god; or the interpretations of his words are wrong... saying otherwise is living in an irrational religion, which might explain why muslims have an enormous difficulty when searching the, dealing with and speaking of true.

David Wood said...


You're "not aware" that Sami holds the position I've ascribed to him (i.e. that the rule about killing apostates only applied to people fighting Islam)??? How carefully did you watch the debate??? Let's hear from Sami on this one. I certainly hope that he doesn't try to twist his own words again.

And Bassam, please show me in the hadith I quoted where it says anything about these commands only applying in Muslim countries. If you can't, please show me in hadith that are just as reliable.

As for Divine Command Theory, Bassam, you're appealing to an extreme form in which we can't possibly know that something is wrong unless we've received a clear written or spoken message from God. But this is an extreme Muslim view of DCT, and no Christian could consistently hold to it. Please read up on Natural Law Theory (Thomas Aquinas being the first major philosophical proponent), as NLT fits much more comfortably with the Christian view than your version of DCT.

Bassam said...

"And Bassam, please show me in the hadith I quoted where it says anything about these commands only applying in Muslim countries. If you can't, please show me in hadith that are just as reliable."

The evidence is clear else where that you cannot apply any Islamic laws without proper authority. There is a consensus on this issue amongst the scholars. In Islam it is prohibited to break the rules even if the ruler is oppressing you. There is plenty of material available on the topic of anarchy.

David Wood said...


I quoted several passages to you showing that apostates are to be killed. There isn't one word about this only applying in Muslim countries. So I asked you to give me some evidence for your position. You haven't given me any. I want to see, from Sahih al-Bukhari or Sahih Muslim, that apostates are only to be killed in Muslim countries.

Your reasoning simply makes no sense. You say, "Apostates must be killed, because they could lead people astray!" Then you turn around and say, "Apostates must not be killed in non-Muslim countries, even though they may lead people astray!" So leading people astray is not the key factor in deciding whether or not someone deserves death. What is?

Bassam said...


There is clear evidence from the authentic hadith that you must obey the laws of the land that you are in. Shariah criminal law is only implemented by government officials. Even if i were in an Islamic theocratic country, I still don't have the right as a citizen to implement any Islamic laws. Everything is done by the government officials.

For example, if i catch a murderer, I can't just go and execute him. I must deliver him to the proper authorities. The same applies to the apostate.

There are several clear hadith from Saheeh Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim that speak about the importance of obeying the ruler, unless he asks you to directly commit a sin.

If you are interested in seeing those narrations then please say so and i will get them and post them for you.

"I want to see, from Sahih al-Bukhari or Sahih Muslim, that apostates are only to be killed in Muslim countries."

I am not required to do so. This is not the way you study religious sources David. One area explains and clarifies another area.

If it has been understood from one area that you cannot apply Islamic laws without government approval then it logically follows that you cannot kill the apostate in a land of non-Muslims. I don't have to show you the exact words "Only kill the apostate in Muslim lands"

"So leading people astray is not the key factor in deciding whether or not someone deserves death. What is?"

No, leading people astray is only one of the REASONS why apostates are to be killed. This is one of the WISDOMS behind having them killed. But WISDOM and CONDITIONS are two separate issues David.

The CONDITIONS are several for killing the apostate and one of them is that it can only be done by those in authority.

So don't confuse wisdom with conditions. David, it is established by every Muslim scholar that Islamic criminal and civil law cannot be implemented without the proper authority. This is what we believe. Deal directly with what we believe.

If you can quote some scholars that state otherwise and then provide evidence for their position, then great let me see it. But please don't be an extreme layman in comparative religion and make demands such as "I want to see it specifically stated that apostates can only be killed in Muslim countries" because you know that I can soooooo doooo that with the Bible.