There is precisely one religion on the planet now that broadly teaches, in every country where it holds sway, that leaving the religion is a crime. In many of the countries, this crime earns capital punishment (see the map below). But there are apostasy apologists …

One subtlety to keep in mind in any discussion of Islamic rulings, including and especially Shariah law: Islam has multiple holy works. Those apologists who rely on a single passage in the Qur’an, stating “there is no compulsion in Islam,” are being deceitful. In fact, a tiny group of “Qur’an only” Muslims are considered apostates by everyone else.

Islam’s Shariah law is not just from the Qur’an. The Qur’an is, according to Islam, the words of Allah dictated to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel (Jabreel in Arabic). It is oddly organized, with 114 chapters arranged in order of decreasing length. And it is self-contradictory, with mild verses like “there is no compulsion” dating from Muhammad’s time in Mecca, before he gained military power over his neighbors. After this point, he conquered Medina and the rest of the Qur’anic verses originate from there. These verses are full of compulsion, and with little indeed in the way of compromise. Muhammad, you could say, was feeling his oats — or technically, Allah was.

Alcohol is similar: In moderation early on, forbidden later. The later verses override the mild earlier ones, in all Islamic schools of thought.

Because of the Qur’an having such an odd order of verses, you need a scorecard to figure out which verses originate from which city. Here is one such scorecard.

Everyday Islam

The Qur’an, the dictated words of Allah, must be translated to the rules that dictate the daily lives and rituals of the Muslim faith.  To craft Shariah law, early Muslims decided that they needed a practical, practicing, and perfect example of the words of Allah as a daily guide.

They needed to follow the example of Muhammad, and the Qur’an offers no help there. For the Qur’an does not contain the words and deeds of Muhammad himself, and those are considered to be the perfect interpretation of the will of Allah into daily life. Those actions and words of the Prophet are in al Hadith and Sunnah, and it is from this material that much of Shariah law is derived.

Tomorrow, more on the derivation of Shariah.

The Partial Map

So where does Islam hold sway, where they have the power to do what they want? Here:


Note that in some of these, prison is effectively a death sentence, as it is accompanied by enough lashes to cause death in almost all cases. For women, for example, al Hadith dictate “39 lashes a day until she repents,” though I’ve seen an interpretation that says that this should be done five times a day. In either case, one wouldn’t last long. More on this later — the number of countries involved in Shariah is many times that shown here.

==============/ Keith DeHavelle