For fourteen centuries, Muslims were able to conceal some of their most outrageous teachings from the rest of the world. Their deceptions were hidden behind language, cultural and geographic barriers. Modern technology and new communication methods have made it difficult for Muslims to hide the dark side of Islam any longer. Muslim advocates, especially in the West, are now faced with the tough task of explaining the discrepancies between how they want Islam perceived as a tolerant, civil and peaceful religion ; and the realties of some of its basic tenets, which are quite the opposite. They’re finding it hard to maintain the façades and to simultaneously remain faithful to the harsh doctrines that are essential to the practices of authentic Islam.
Damage control has become one of their main objectives in modern societies. It’s not unusual for various types of contradictions to happen as they do so. This was recently demonstrated by some rulings made by Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt. He is Egypt’s superior authority in charge of issuing official fatwas (Islamic religious rulings).
Ali Gomaa issued a wide range of opinions on critical issues of Islam such as Jihad, women’s status and the right of Muslims to change religions. News agencies around the world published them in multiple languages. In regard to a Muslim’s right to renounce Islam and to join another religion that is called apostasy, his initial rulings sounded lenient. The Washington Post-Newsweek forum in English was one of the forums that published his decisions.
Here are excerpts from what he said on the issue of apostasy : “The essential question before us is : Can a person who is a Muslim choose a religion other than Islam ? The answer is yes, they can, because the Quran says, ‘Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion,’ (Quran 109:6) and, ‘Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosever will, let him disbelieve,’ (Quran18:29) and, ‘There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is distinct from error’ (Quran 2:256).” He added, “These verses from the Quran discuss a freedom that God affords all people. But from a religious prospective, the act of abandoning one’s religion is a sin punishable by God on the Day of Judgment. If the case in Question is one of merely rejecting faith, then there is no worldly punishment.” He went on to state, “If, however, the crime of undermining the foundations of the society is added to the sin of apostasy, then the case must be referred to a judicial system whose role is to protect the integrity of the society…..According to Islam, it is not permitted for Muslims to reject their faith, so if a Muslim were to leave Islam and adopt another religion, they would thereby be committing a sin in the eyes of Islam. Religious belief and practice is a personal matter, and society only intervenes when that personal matter becomes public and threatens the well-being of its members.”