There are enormous obstacles to apostasy (leaving the religion) in Islam. Some ex-Muslims say that in retrospect, their indoctrination into Islam was so intense, leaving it was akin to leaving a cult. This is not intended as a gratuitous insult; there are very real parallels between Islam and cults explained here, and these parallels are highly relevant to the subject of apostasy.
Punishments in this life:
As previously discussed, apostates may live in fear of being killed; some live with constant death threats. Those who are not killed may be treated as a sub-human by Muslims. They may be shunned by the Muslim community, which is a problem if all their family and friends are Muslim, and if there are no employment options with non-Muslims in their area. They may not inherit property from Muslim family members.
Punishments in the next:
Although the punishments for apostasy in this life are draconian, some say the threats of punishment in the afterlife are enough to give a Muslim a full-fledged phobia of even considering leaving Islam.
Former Jihadist turned reformer Tawfiq Hamid has assembled a list of Quran verses that describe punishment in the afterlife in Appendix A of his article, The Development of a Jihadi’s Mind. This is Hamid’s translation (I have compared it with some standard translations and find the meaning to be comparable, yet there are some differences. If you wish to compare for yourself, click the links following each verse):
- “[...]For those who do not follow Allah garments of fire shall be cut out for them (in the life to come); burning water will be poured over their heads causing all that is within their bodies, as well as the skins, to melt away. And they shall be held by iron grips; and every time they try in their anguish to come out of it, they shall be returned there to and (be told): “Taste suffering through fire (to the full)!” Quran 22:19-22
- “But those of the left hand (did not obey Allah and Mohammed or follow them)—how unhappy those of the left hand. They will be in the scorching hot wind and boiling water, under the shadow of thick black smoke, neither cool nor agreeable. …They will be gathered together on a certain day which is predetermined. Then you, the erring and the deniers will eat Zaqum (a thorny tree), fill your bellies with it, and drink scalding water, lapping it up like female camels raging of thirst and disease. Such will be their entertainment, their welcome on the Day of Doom … the welcome of boiling water and the entertainment of roasting in Hell. This is the ultimate truth.” Quran 56:41-57
- “For We have truly made it as a trial to torment the disbelievers. Zaqumis a horrible thorn tree that grows in Hell. The shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils. Truly they (the non-Muslims) will eat it and fill their bellies with it. On top of that they will be given a mixture made of boiling water to drink especially prepared. Then they shall be returned to the Blazing Fire.” Quran 37:63-68
- “Soon will I fling them into the burning Hell Fire! And what will explain what Hell Fire is? It permits nothing to endure, and nothing does it spare! It darkens and changes the color of man, burning the skin! It shrivels and scorches men.” Quran 74:26-29
- “We have prepared the doom of Hell and the penalty of torment in the most intense Blazing Fire. For those who reject their Lord is the punishment of Hell: Evil, it is such a wretched destination. When they are flung therein, they will hear the terrible drawing in of their breath and loud moaning even as the flame blazes forth, roaring with rage as it boils up, bursting with fury. Every time a fresh crowd is cast in, Hell’s wardens will ask, ‘Did no Warner come to you?” Quran 67:6-8
- “‘This,’ it will be said, ‘is the Fire, which you used to deny! Is this magic fake? Burn therein, endure the heat; taste it. It’s the same whether you bear it patiently, or not. This is My retaliation for what you did.” Quran 52:14-16
- “[...]Those who shall dwell forever in the Fire are given to drink boiling water that tears their bowels to pieces, and cutting their intestines to shreds.” Quran 47:15
To non-Muslims, these verses may just sound like a bad horror flick, but remember, most Muslims really believe this stuff. In addition to the graphic quality of certain verses, this torturous punishment is also an extremely pervasive theme of the Quran. A search reveals that 644 of the 6236 verses contain the words “doom”, “punishment”, “hell” and/or “fire”. Flipping through them, it appears that not all but most of the 644 are referring to the afterlife. Also, there are verses which specifically mention how despicable apostates are (2:217, 4:89).
Naturally, we can also count on the Hadith to supply even more examples of a painful afterlife, such as corpses being tortured in the grave. Although threats for punishment in the next life are found in other religions as well, these are arguably more graphic, ominous, and pervasive than those found in other holy books. Fear appears to be a major factor in preventing Muslims from leaving Islam.
In addition to fear, there are other obstacles, as well. Muslims are conditioned to have an aversion to non-Muslims, taught that they are “unclean”, “cursed by Allah”, and so forth. Muslims are taught to avoid friendships with non-Muslims. Muslims are taught to reject any information that contradicts Islam without even considering it. Muslims are encouraged to sacrifice their own desires and, indeed, their individual identity, for the sake of Islam. (In each case above, by “Muslims” I mean “many if not most Muslims”.)
Apostates are already in danger just for leaving their faith, but the danger factor looms even larger for those who have a mission of bringing more Muslims with them into the world of apostasy. Many apostates do not even tell their friends and family they have left Islam, but communicate anonymously over the internet, instead. The non-Muslim world owes a huge debt of gratitude to these heros.
Political correctness is another obstacle, coming from non-Muslims, of all places. It could be considered politically incorrect to even examine the possibility of an apostasy movement. However, if it is acceptable for members of religions to express what they believe and try to convince others to join them, why would it not be acceptable for apostates to do the same, especially when the apostates’ beliefs could be an antidote for Islamo-Fascism?
Can these obstacles be overcome?
A growing number of people are indeed overcoming these obstacles, and are helping others to do so. If enough people leave Islam, the problematic Islamic doctrines go away.
Muslims may view apostasy as turning their backs on their heritage, but it could also be reclaiming a pre-Islamic heritage that had been taken from them. Based on what we know about Islamic conquest, it is likely that most Muslims today have one or more ancestors who suffered at the hands of the Islamic warriors.
Imagine the plight of Muslims’ pre-Islamic ancestors. They may have been killed outright, their children sold into slavery. They may have been given the two choices of conversion or death, or more commonly the three choices of conversion, dhimmitude (severe underclass status), or death. They may have been women who, as prisoners of war, found their prior marriages instantly dissolved, and found that their captors could legally have sex with them (legal rape). They may have been born as a dhimmi, and then found themselves unable to pay the jizya tax, and thus forced to convert to Islam. They may have sacrificed their own conscience so that they and their progeny could at least survive, because with survival there’s still hope. Depending on their circumstances, they may or may not have been aware that all their descendants would be required to be unquestioningly Muslim, and even be taught to hate their ancestors from the “jahiliyya” (pre-Islamic age of ignorance).
Of course, we all have ancestors who were barbarous murderers and rapists or victims thereof, if we go back far enough. The difference is that we do not all support the belief system that caused this barbarity. Muslims who support the ideologies of Jihad and Sharia do so, even if unwittingly.
To gain a sense of their roots, some apostates investigate their ancestors’ religion, which may or may not appeal to them. But even if it doesn’t, exercising freedom of conscience and choosing ones own religion can be a way of honoring ancestors who were not allowed that choice.
Can an apostasy movement succeed? The obstacles are huge, but anything is possible. Today’s Islamic apostasy movement uses non-violent means of disproving tenets of Islam, with the hope of minimizing the violence and oppression that seem inevitable if Islamo-Fascism were to continue on its present course. Let’s hope they succeed. The non-Muslim world should be supporting the apostasy movement big time.