Even atheists can learn
In a text that is coursing about on social media, professional God-slayer Richard Dawkins begrudgingly admitted that Christianity may actually be our best defense against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world.
“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings,” Dawkins said. “I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death.”
In a rare moment of candor, Dawkins reluctantly accepted that the teachings of Jesus Christ do not lead to a world of terror, whereas followers of radical Islam perpetrate the very atrocities that he laments.
Because of this realization, Dawkins wondered aloud whether Christianity might indeed offer an antidote to protect western civilization against jihad.
“I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse,” he said.
Yet seeking secular laws or social tolerance ignores the root of the problem, says Ibn Warraq, the pseudonymous Indian-born author of “Leaving Islam”, a collection of essays by ex-believers, and other books. He lives in exile and has received death threats for campaigning on the behalf of apostates. The prevailing interpretation of Islam, he says, simply cannot tolerate Muslim unbelievers. Arguments for the death penalty are usually based on a Hadith, one of the sayings which, along with the Koran, form the basis of Islamic law: “The Prophet said: whoever discards his religion, kill him.”
Yet other texts have a different message. The Koran’s notably tolerant Sura 109 includes words such as “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” Moderates also note that though the Koran says blasphemers will not be forgiven, it does not mention the death penalty. Some argue that in Islam’s early years apostasy was akin to treason, earning harsh penalties that are no longer acceptable.
Although some Islamic theologians interpret these provisions to mean that apostates will be punished in the afterlife, most see them as ordering that former Muslims must be punished by death. All four schools of Sunni Islamic law teach that male apostates should be put to death, though two say that female renegades should only be imprisoned. A number of leading Islamic figures, such as Egypt’s grand mufti and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based preacher, say that the death penalty is deserved if the apostate “subverts society” or “damages Islam”.