Death Penalty, Flogging For Christian Woman In Sudan Consistent With Islamic Law
In Sentencing Meriam Ibrahim, Sudan Is Far From Violating Sharia
May 24, 2014
By Elizabeth Kendal
Morning Star News
The sentence of 100 lashes and death by hanging that a Sudanese judge handed to Meriam Ibrahim is consistent with Islamic law, contrary to Islamic leaders and others who cite her case as an anomaly.
In a case that has drawn international condemnation since Morning Star News first broke the story, Ibrahim was sentenced to death for leaving Islam and 100 lashes for having sex with an “infidel,” as her husband is Christian. She has insisted she did not violate Islamic law as practiced in Sudan because she was raised by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother and never practiced Islam, her Muslim father having disappeared when she was 6 years old. Asserting she was never a Muslim, she denies being an apostate from Islam.
Her husband, Daniel Wani, was found innocent of proselytizing, but their marriage was deemed null and void on the grounds that it is illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man. Ibrahim, 27, was subsequently charged with “adultery” and sentenced to 100 lashes. When she countered the adultery charge by insisting that she was a Christian, the charge of apostasy was added, and on Feb. 17 the now pregnant Meriam was imprisoned in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with her first-born son, Martin (now 20 months old).
According to the Koran, fitna – that is, anything that “averts people from the way of Allah,” anything that “causes disbelief” and therefore chaos – is to be regarded as the greatest of all evils. Fitna is worse than killing (i.e., killing is the lesser of the two evils) – and fitna must be purged (Sura 2:217). Be assured, nothing generates fitna like the presence of joyful, thriving apostates. Furthermore, apostasy is regarded as a betrayal of the Muslim nation akin to treason. According to Islam and sharia (Islamic law), the penalty for apostasy is death. This is backed up by the famous Hadith (saying of Muhammad): “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 9, book 84, number 57).
Concerning men, all schools of sharia (Islamic law) agree that an adult male convicted of apostasy must be killed (unless he is not of sound mind), and that boys convicted of apostasy must be imprisoned until they are of age and then, if they persist in their apostasy, they must be killed.
Concerning women, three of the four main Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence – the Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i schools – teach that women apostates must likewise be executed. Only the Hanafi (from Kufa, Sth Iraq) and Shia schools teach that women apostates should be imprisoned until they recant. (This is essentially because they view women as so insignificant that they are actually incapable of generating fitna, and therefore do not require elimination.
Sudanese Islamic jurisprudence follows the Shafi’i school.
Generally, scholars interpret Sura 4:137 as grounds for a Muslim having three chances or three days to repent/recant before forgiveness is denied.
For an excellent study on apostasy in Islam, see Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam
by Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (December 2013).
Unlike Christianity, where religious identity is a matter of personal faith, in Islam, religious identity is a political matter, a matter for the Islamic state or nation.
In Islam, a child inherits their religion from their father and is registered as such from birth. Consequently, Muslim men are free to marry Christian women; in fact in some quarters, Muslim men are actually encouraged to marry Christians – sometimes they are even financially rewarded for marrying Christian women – for this not only removes child-bearers from the Christian community but also ensures the children of Christian women are deemed Muslim from birth.
Conversely, Islamic law bans Muslim women from marrying Christian men. Any Christian man who wants to marry a Muslim woman must first convert to Islam to ensure her children are born Muslim.
When a Muslim parent abandons Islam, they automatically lose custody of their children because it is imperative that the children be raised Muslim.
When a nominally Christian father converts to Islam in order to take a Muslim woman as a second wife, his Christian children are deemed and registered Muslim upon his conversion. From that point, his forcibly converted daughters are obliged by law to marry Muslim men and bear Muslim children, while his forcibly converted sons, even though free to marry Christian women, will produce Muslim children that must be raised as Muslims following Islam and Sharia.
Add to all this, the fact that Muslims are captives for whom leaving is forbidden upon penalty of death, and you have a truly brilliant (albeit insidious) strategy for permanent exponential growth of the Muslim community; growth that is guaranteed not only at the expense of other religious communities, but even in the virtual absence of religious conversions.
Clearly, anyone who says the rulings in Khartoum violate sharia is either misinformed or is seeking to misinform.
Islam underpins not only these rulings out of Khartoum, but much Islamic violence, much Islamic repression and many thousands of honor killings committed annually along with the impunity afforded the perpetrators.
According to Islam and sharia (as distinct from individual Muslims), Meriam Ibrahim is a Muslim because she was born to a Muslim father. According to Islam and sharia, Daniel Wani should have converted to Islam before marrying her in 2012. Had Wani complied, submitting to sharia, then the marriage would have been legal, the children would be Muslim, and Muslims and the state would be happy. While Wani may have failed in his responsibilities according to Islam and sharia, the Islamic state will ensure that wrongs will be set right by denying him custody of his own children and ensuring they are raised as Muslims.
While Ibrahim insists she was raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian Christian mother, making the ruling unfair and unjust as she never committed apostasy, a Sudanese official says Meriam was raised Muslim by a Muslim mother from a Muslim tribe and that she disappeared for several years before turning up again professing Christ and married to a Christian man.
The details, however, are totally irrelevant and must not be allowed to become a distraction. Every human being – no matter how or where they were raised and irrespective of their occupation or status – must be free to seek after God.
The debate must be about Islam’s total lack of liberty, its inherent inhumanity and its gross unreasonableness in suggesting that a good God would compel people to worship and serve him against their heart and conscience.
Elizabeth Kendal is a religious liberty analyst (Religious Liberty Monitoring), an adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology, and the Director of Advocacy at Christian Faith and Freedom (Canberra). Her book, “Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today,” was published by Deror Books in December 2012. This commentary first appeared in its original form in her “Religious Liberty Monitoring” of May 20.
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