Not long ago in Sudan, a woman named Maryam Yahya Ibrahim was sentenced to death for alleged crimes of apostasy and adultery. Fortunately, this verdict was overturned by that nation's Court of Appeals, and Mrs. Ibrahim now waits at the US Embassy in Khartoum to get documentation to allow her to join her husband in the United States. Needless to say, the initial reaction of the Western world was a great deal of outrage over such an appalling miscarriage of justice. Many in the West and the world press are by now long accustomed to such horrific stories of judicially-sanctioned murder and such barbaric practices as stoning to death because these practices, though diametrically opposed to Islam and its moral values , are used by a great many people to support anti-Muslim bigotry. These people portray the fanatical mindset and the harsh, repressive, low-quality and ruthless values that inspire horror rather than love as if these were truly the moral values of Islam.
Fanatical thinking has added various superstitions that do not appear in the true Islam, to the faith. Some people have come to believe these superstitions because they are ignorant of religious matters. Fanatical thinking and nonsense have spread so rapidly that some people have begun adopting an entirely different perception of Islam; some people have even imagined that laughing is unlawful. They believed that freedom of thought, peace, brotherhood, love, understanding and forgiveness had no place in the moral values of Islam. They have been conditioned to think the blessings of this world are not for them. Friends of God do not regard themselves as worthy of blessings created by Him and in turning their backs on His blessings they have also spurned beauty, art, cleanliness, quality and modernity. What is left is a Muslim model that is low quality, ill-groomed, shabby, uncultured and devoid of beauty. This false model has suddenly become the image of Islam across the world. To this cultureless, ill-groomed and shabby image, they have added lovelessness, vengefulness, bloodshed, repression and, worst of all, regarding women as semi-human. In this way, as seen in the instance of Sudan, they have depicted a belief that claims to act on the commandments of the Qur’an but which really has nothing to do with them as Islam. To these non-Qur’anic practices, they have also added hadiths that were obviously never uttered by our Prophet (saas). To return to the example of Sudan, the crimes which led to Maryam Yahya Ibrahim being sentenced to death are apostasy (the reason for that decision is that her father is a Muslim, although she was raised by a Christian mother and professes to be a Christian), rejection of Islam and adultery by having married a Christian man.
The alleged offenses in this instance and the sentence of death are one of the main reasons for various segments of society objecting to Islam. They have abandoned Islam because they imagine it to be such a faith and have even become hostile to it and attempts have been made to annihilate the embracing character of Islam as extremists reacted angrily to these communities that turned against Islam. The Western world did not, and cannot, accept such a model of Islam yet this low-quality ideology based on violence and oppression is a false religion. Islam is against such a way of thinking.
First of all, Islam is a religion of love, peace and beauty. Islam is a faith that openly espouses and guarantees freedom of ideas, life and belief. It prevents tensions, violence, hatred, repression and even negative thinking between people. Islam, a religion of love, and most definitely does not command people to “Kill those who abjure the faith.” That nostrum only exists in the religion of the fanatics. The freedom of belief in Islam is set out in the words of the Qur’an - “You have your religion and I have my religion.” (Surat al-Kafirun, 6).
Second, forcing people to believe in Islam or practice its observances is a violation of the spirit of Islam. In Islam, sincere faith is only possible through “free will” and “heeding the conscience.” The important thing in Islam is to live by the faith only after having sincerely accepted it. God sets out this feature of the faith in numerous verses. For example, someone who prays five times a day must do so willingly, for God’s sake. Or someone who gives alms must do so willingly if it is to be valid in the Sight of God. A Muslim’s devotion to the faith stems from an absolute belief in God. He therefore willingly and happily abides with the requirements of the values of the faith. As a result, Islam is a system that can only be lived by through people’s own free will. Muslims telling people of the faith is limited to the kindly expression of an invitation. It is an invitation to live by the moral values of those who desire to do so and who love God. One verse which rejects compulsion in religion reads:
There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and has faith in God has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 256)
As this verse explicitly states, God has created the faith so that people can live by it with sincere love and affection, not through compulsion.
Third, execution is a form of punishment that has no place in the Qur’an. Islam regards killing as a major crime and reveals that someone who kills one person has effectively killed all mankind. Some people oppose these statements on the basis of verses in the Qur’an concerning retribution. Yet retribution is based on forgiveness, which God approves of and desires.
Even if someone behaves in a way that God has made unlawful, the correct response is not to kill him, but first to forgive him and then teach him the moral virtues of Islam.
You who have faith! retaliation is prescribed for you in the case of people killed: free man for free man, slave for slave, female for female. But if someone is absolved by his brother, blood-money should be claimed with correctness and paid with good will. That is an easement and a mercy from your Lord. Anyone who goes beyond the limits after this will receive a painful punishment. (Surat al-Baqara, 178)
The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with God. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers. (Surat ash-Shura, 40)
As the Qur’an shows, the important thing is to forgive people and try to improve them.
It must not be forgotten that the death penalty is an outdated form of punishment bereft of religious and moral values, implemented by barbarian societies of the past; such an outdated practice can and must have no place in Islamic society. That is what is compatible with Islam and social order.
As we see in the example of Sudan and in many other Islamic countries, we need to change the Islamic beliefs that have been fabricated and instead show people the true Islam that the Prophet Muhammad (saas) and the Companions lived by. Muslims must be high quality, clean, attractive, kind, joyful, full of love and respect, cultured, open-minded, democratic and respectful of others’ ideas and beliefs. These concepts represent the heart of Islam and a way of life that all Muslims can easily and must live by. That is the way of life that God reveals as befitting Muslims in the Qur’an.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Weekly Blitz: