This is a question that I ask myself a lot lately. Of course there are many Muslims who are very nice people and would never hurt a fly. Yet, there is always in the back of your mind the knowledge that they follow a religion where the ‘holy’ book demands to kill people who offend their faith.
Imagine it like this. A colleague of yours is a Muslim and he’s very a nice guy. He even goes for a drink with you and your friends and you think, oh well, he’s not really into his faith, a very moderate Muslim. He then tells you he’s going to marry a girl his parents chose for him. Did he know her? No. You think it a bit odd but, oh well, that’s their custom, and just accept it.
After the wedding he returns and everything is like it was before, except he has stopped drinking. He claims he has an ulcer or some other kind of problem and his doctor told him to stop taking alcohol. You don’t think much more about it but a few weeks later he starts talking to you about Islam. He always claimed he wasn’t religious but the more you listen to him you realise that he didn’t tell you quite the truth, that he’s very much a believer. He speaks about what a great religion Islam is, how great their prophet Mohammed is, how science discovers more and more things that were already written about in the holy Quran.
You’re curious and go along with it and maybe even think of trying out this religion. One day you convert and everything is great. You enjoy the special attention you receive by this new found community of believers and become very involved practising your faith. There are a lot of things you now have to do but it’s fun and exciting and there’s a lot of support. Everybody in this community is very friendly and you begin to appreciate the simplicity of their life.
You also become more appalled to western ideas of capitalism the more you hear about how the west is responsible for much suffering in the rest of the world. Your new friends, after you won their trust, tell you that they’re unhappy about how shallow the faith of many of their fellow believers is here in the west. They invite you to some meetings where the Imam or some other cleric gives a more radical message. If you really want to be a good Muslim you learn you have to follow the perfect example of Mohammed.
However,the more you get involved the more you realise that Islam is not for you. Maybe you have found out by now that the image of Islam given in the west does not match up with the reality found in Islamic countries. Maybe you just come to realise that Islam is not the answer to the problems in the world and that there are better ways to deal with injustice and poverty than to make people believe they simply have to accept the fate Allah has bestowed upon them. Maybe you begin to hate the way women and non-Muslims are treated in Islamic countries.
Whatever the reasons are, you just want to quit and leave Islam behind. You are fully aware that if you leave Islam you will become an apostate and that means that your friends will have to kill you. Maybe you think they won’t do it because you live in a country that criminalises murderers but in the back of your mind you know that it’s a likely possibility.
You know that Muslims are even obliged to kill family members if they offend against Islam and you have heard about honour killings. You might even have praised the deeds of those parents or brothers who did the killing in the past but now you changed your mind. What seemed like an honourable thing to you before now sounds horrible and disgusting. You start to wonder how on earth you could ever have gone along with such a twisted way of thinking and all you want is to get out.
If only you had known before befriending this Muslim that it could lead to a life of fear of being killed for the rest of your life? If you turn away from Islam you will be an apostate. Your friend might very likely be the person to think it his duty to kill you, because this is what the ‘prophet’ Mohammed demands him to do if he wants to follow his ‘perfect’ example.
They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them, (Qur’an (4:89)
Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ ” (Sahih Bukhari 52:4:260)
Narrated Abu Musa:
A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu’adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, “What is wrong with this (man)?” Abu Musa replied, “He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism.” Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle (Sahih Bukhari (9:89:271)
Whenever I tell you a narration from Allah’s Apostle, by Allah, I would rather fall down from the sky than ascribe a false statement to him, but if I tell you something between me and you (not a Hadith) then it was indeed a trick (i.e., I may say things just to cheat my enemy). No doubt I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, where-ever you find them, kill them, for who-ever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Bukhari 9:84:64)