I was asked this by an Apostate. He wanted to know what the evidence is that an Apostate can evade execution by repenting and returning to Islam.

I know this is the judgement of the madhahib and Umar ra did this with the Iraqi apostates but this did not satisfy him.

Is there any evidence from Quran or Sunnah that the apostate is permitted to return to Islam and thus avoid execution?

Verses about Allah being all merciful are important but in this case I am not sure if they are evidence the Apostate should be able to evade execution, perhaps it would mean Allah has forgiven the Apostate on the basis of his execution being the expiation, so his Repentance would help him from the punishment of the Afterlife but not from the legal penalty, just as a thief cannot escape the penalty for theft by repenting. On the other hand, it could also be argued that the victim of theft can waive the penalty for the thief, and Apostasy which is a crime against Allah can also be waived by Allah.

Because of this uncertainty, I would prefer it if the answers did not invoke Allah’s mercy as the proof an Apostate can escape his penalty by repentance unless they can prove these verses can be applied to waiving the apostasy penalty.

1 Answer 1

  • The Hadith about the man who reverted to Islam after apostasy and was allowed to live:

    أن رجلا من الأنصار ارتد عن الإسلام، ولحق بالمشركين، فأنزل الله تعالى: {كيف يهدي الله قوما كفروا بعد إيمانهم} [آل عمران: ٨٦] إلى آخر الآية، فبعث بها قومه، فرجع تائبا، فقبل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، ذلك منه وخلى عنه

    A man from among the Ansar apostatized from Islam and joined the polytheists. So Allah revealed:

    How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief ... Except for those who repent after that and correct themselves.

    Quran 3:86-89

    The person's tribe sent him this message, so he repented and came back. The Prophet ﷺ accepted this from him and let him go on his way.

    Musnad Ahmad

    There are also narrations about some other apostates who were forgiven after they returned to Islam and lived the remainder of their lives as good Muslims.

  • The Hadith about the instruction of the Prophet ﷺ to Muadh bin Jabal when he was sent to Yemen

    عن معاذ بن جبل ، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال له حين بعثه إلى اليمن : أيما رجل ارتد عن الإسلام فادعه ، فإن تاب فاقبل منه ، وإن لم يتب فاضرب عنقه

    Muadh bin Jabal narrated that when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent him to Yemen he said:

    The person who leaves Islam, invite him to return to Islam. If he repents then accept his conversion. If he does not repent then strike his neck.

    Mu'jam Al Kabir of Tabarani

    Note that this hadith has some weaknesses, although Ibn Hajar has classed it as Hasan. Additionally its meaning is corroborated by authentic ahadith which narrate what Muadh did on reaching Yemen:

    فأتي أبو موسى برجل قد ارتد عن الإسلام، فدعاه عشرين ليلة أو قريبا منها، فجاء معاذ، فدعاه، فأبى، فضرب عنقه

    A man who turned back from Islam was brought to Abu Musa. He invited him to repent for twenty days or about so. Muadh then came and invited him (to embrace Islam) but he refused. So he was beheaded.

    Abu Dawud

  • There are numerous verses and ahadith that say that a disbeliever who accepts Islam is to be forgiven and not killed, such as Quran 9:5 , Quran 8:38 , Nasai 3979 etc. Some of the scholars have argued that since a repentant apostate is also a disbeliever who has accepted Islam so he will come under the same ruling.

  • The Quranic verse:

    وكفروا بعد إسلامهم ... فإن يتوبوا يك خيرا لهم وإن يتولوا يعذبهم الله عذابا أليما في الدنيا والآخرة

    They disbelieved after their Islam ... So if they repent, it is better for them; but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter.

    Quran 9:74


    الدنيا بالقتل ، وفي الآخرة بالنار

    In this world by execution, and in the Hereafter by Hellfire.

    Tafsir al-Qurtubi

    The apparent meaning of this verse is that if they repent then they would not be punished in this world, since Allah has conditioned the punishment to lack of repentance.

    Note that legal penalties are part of the punishment that is given by Allah in this world, as they are enforced by His command.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .