Nonie Darwish is a well-known former Muslim. She was born in Egypt, converted out of Islam, and now lives in the United States. But even here — in a country where freedom of speech and freedom of religion are constitutionally guaranteed — she faces intimidation and harassment for daring to leave Islam.
As Phyllis Chesler wrote yesterday:
Nonie Darwish, the warmest, sanest, least prejudiced Egyptian whom I know, has both been attacked and has not been defended by the administrative elite at the Whittier College Law School where she is scheduled to speak later today. According to Steven Emerson, the Muslim Student Association on campus defamed Darwish and tried to stop or at least delay her presentation.
Not surprising. They specialize in such demonization and censorship campaigns. Darwish pleads the case of Muslim women whose human rights are seriously violated by shariah law. But the academic administrators at Whittier Law School have not strongly defended her right to speak, nor have they praised her work. This is unforgivable; according to Emerson, many happen to be women who are also feminists.
This is a process that has become all too familiar in recent years as courageous apostates from Islam have been abandoned by both civil libertarians and feminists. The hypocrisy of the progressive Left is now completely exposed: the human rights that they have putatively championed for all these years are not universal. When Islam walks through the door, the Left falls suddenly and mysteriously silent about the right of Muslims to choose their own destiny.
However, America’s former Muslims aren’t waiting for the approval of the Left to assert their freedom. They’ve organized a new group called Former Muslims United under the leadership of Nonie Darwish, Mohammed Asghar, Amil Imani, Wafa Sultan and Ibn Warraq:
Former Muslims United was formed in September, 2009 by a group of leading American apostates from Islam — Nonie Darwish (Director), Mohammed Asghar, Amil Imani, Wafa Sultan and Ibn Warraq — to educate the American public and policymakers about the need for Muslims to repudiate the threat from authoritative Shariah to the religious freedom and safety of former Muslims. Our national campaign for civil rights and physical safety for former Muslims was launched with the creation of a pledge for Muslim leaders to sign — “ The Muslim Pledge for Religious Freedom and Safety from Harm for Former Muslims.”
The first group of Muslim leaders were sent pledges to coincide with the date September 25, 2009.
I’ll have more to say about the Pledge below. But first, some excerpts from the group’s mission statement:
1. Develop a legal framework for and ensure the civil of American individuals and organizations to provide sanctuary for former Muslims without being subject to legal penalties or threats. 2. Call on all Muslims and their spiritual leaders to reject, publicly and without reservation or exception, all Sharia doctrine that permits or calls for punishment or discrimination against former Muslims, including intimidation and threats against person or property. This rejection of violence applies to individuals, Sharia authorities, Muslim courts or other Sharia bodies, governments, and quasi-governmental bodies. 3. Form a support group to empower and give comfort to former Muslims enabling them to stand up for their religious liberties under the US Constitution. […] 7. Demand Muslim leaders reject and denounce all Islamic literature which calls for death or other punishments for former Muslims.
The members of Former Muslims United are tackling the most urgent issue that can be faced by those who have chosen to leave Islam. In any country where there are significant numbers of Muslims, apostates face the risk of death at the hands of their former fellows. Islam permits — indeed, it requires — the death penalty for apostasy, as well as for other crimes such as blasphemy and adultery.
Since the strictures of Sharia run contrary to the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, Former Muslims United requests that Muslim leaders in the United States specifically and unequivocally affirm the civil rights of former Muslims by renouncing Sharia wherever it contradicts those rights.
On Friday September 25th — the day after tomorrow — 50,000 Muslims are scheduled to gather for prayers on Capitol Hill. FMU has chosen this occasion to present American Muslim leaders with the Freedom Pledge. The cover letter for the pledge states:
We send this letter to you to be received by September 25, 2009. On that date 220 years ago in 1789, the U.S. Congress passed the Bill of Rights. This is a fitting date to put our pledge to the world, for the first of those rights guarantees religious freedom and freedom of speech. These rights are, as our Declaration of Independence states, unalienable — they cannot be denied to any of us. For former Muslims, who throughout history have lost their liberties and lives when they left Islam, both the First Amendment and the Declaration of Independence have special significance.
As founders of Former Muslims United, we now pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to achieve for former Muslims their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We claim these rights as the foundation for our right to freedom from Shariah. We urge you to join us.
Our request is simple. The need is urgent. Please sign the pledge and encourage others in your organization to do so as well. We await your response.
And the Freedom Pledge itself reads:
– – – – – – – – –
The Muslim Pledge for Religious Freedom and Safety from Harm for Former Muslims
All four schools of Sunni Islamic law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali), as well as the other main schools of Shia Islamic law (al-Isma iliyyun and Ithna ashariyya), unanimously agree that a former Muslim male, also known as an apostate, must be executed. While some hold that an apostate woman should also be executed, the Encyclopedia of Islamic Law: A compendium of the Major Schools, adapted by Laleh Bakhtiar, states that she should be imprisoned or beaten five times a day until she repents or dies. These specific world renowned Islamic legal authorities join in this consensus:
Head of the Fatawa Council of Al-Azhr, Abdullah al-Mishadd, Al-Azhar University, the pre-eminent Shariah legal authority, Fatwa issued 23rd September 1978: “This man has committed apostasy; he must be given a chance to repent and if he does not then he must be killed according to Shariah. As far as his children are concerned, as long as they are children they are considered Muslim, but after they reach the age of puberty, then if they remain with Islam they are Muslim, but if they leave Islam and they do not repent they must be killed…”
Mufti of Lebanon, Beirut, Fatwa issued 13 November 1989: “Now, should the apostate (male or female) persist in his apostasy, he should be given the opportunity to repent, prior to his being put to death, out of respect for his Islam. A misunderstanding on his part may have taken place, and there would thus be an opportunity to rectify it. Often apostasy takes place on account of an offer (of inducement). So Islam must be presented to the apostate, things should be clarified, and his sin made manifest. He should be imprisoned for three days, so that he may have the opportunity to reflect upon his situation. This three-day period has been deemed adequate. But if the man or the woman has not repented of his or her raddah, but has continued to persist in it, then he or she should be put to death…”
Ibn Rushd (Averroes), The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, “Chapter on the Hukm of the Murtadd (Apostate),” Volume II, (p. 552), Section 56.10: “An apostate, if taken captive before he declares war, is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet (God’s peace and blessings be upon him), “Slay those who change their din:. They disagreed about the execution of a woman and whether she to be required to repent before execution. The majority said that a woman (apostate) is to be executed…”
Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller, translation approved by Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy and IIIT, 1994. (p. 595): “ o8.1 When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed….o8.4 There is no indemnity for killing an apostate (O: or any expiation, since it is killing someone who deserves to die).”
Ismail R. Al-Faruki, the Founder of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Islam, 1979, (p. 68): “That is why Islamic Law has treated people who have converted out of Islam as political traitors…[Islam] must deal with the traitors when convicted after due process of law either with banishment, life imprisonment, or capital punishment…but once their conversion is proclaimed, they must be dealt with as traitors to the state.”
Louay Safi, the former Executive Director of IIIT and the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Leadership Development Council, Peace and the Limits of War, IIIT publication, 2003 (p. 25): “A quiet desertion of personal Islamic duties is not a sufficient reason for inflicting death on a person. Only when the person’s desertion of Islam is used as a political tool for instigating a state of disorder, or revolting against the law of Islam, can the individual apostate then be put to death as a just punishment for his act of treason and betrayal of the Muslim community.”
Shaikh Syed Abul A’ala Maududi, Pakistani Islamic authority, The Punishment of the Apostate According to Islamic Law, translation by Syed Silas Husain, 1994: “In any case the heart of the matter is that children born of Muslim lineage will be considered Muslims and according to Islamic law the door of apostasy will never be opened to them. If anyone of them renounces Islam, he will be as deserving of execution as the person who has renounced kufr to become a Muslim and again has chosen the way of kufr. All the jurists of Islam agree with this decision. On this topic absolutely no difference exists among the experts of shari’ah.”
To support the civil rights of former Muslims, also known as apostates from Islam, I sign “The Muslim Pledge for Religious Freedom and Safety from Harm for Former Muslims”:
I renounce, repudiate and oppose any physical intimidation, or worldly and corporal punishment, of apostates from Islam, in whatever way that punishment may be determined or carried out by myself or any other Muslim including the family of the apostate, community, Mosque leaders, Shariah court or judge, and Muslim government or regime.
This inspired initiative is a precision weapon aimed at the very heart of the dilemma faced by American Muslims.
If, as they repeatedly claim, Muslim leaders truly support political liberty and the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, then they should have no trouble signing it.
On the other hand, if they do sign it, they’re violating the tenets of their own religion, as codified in the Koran and the hadith and backed up by 1400 years of Muslim juridical tradition. Those who agree to sign the pledge would thus become vulnerable to retaliation by the very same people who threaten Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, and all the other Americans who have chosen to leave Islam.
American Muslim leaders are being backed into a corner. How will they respond?