We already wrote an article on the concept of freedom of thought and freedom of expression in Islam. We argued that Islam encourages people to think about their actions and choices. And even when it comes to accepting Islam, Allah wants people to think and choose their path in life with reason and knowledge.
But the question that sounds a little contrary to freedom of thought is that if people are free to think, and then make their choices based on their knowledge and understanding, then why if a Muslim chooses to leave Islam, in some specific cases he is sentenced to death? Is it even true that leaving Islam is always followed by execution?
In this article, we will examine possible conflicts between freedom of thought and expression, and apostasy. We will also clarify if everyone who leaves Islam should be afraid of Muslims who want to kill him?!
There are so many verses in the holy Quran that show Allah does not want people to be forced to accept Islam. The most famous verse is when Allah clarifies that “There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become distinct from error” (2:256).
He explains that the truth has been explained by the Lord and whoever is willing can believe, and whoever is not willing is free to disbelieve. Nevertheless, He also mentions the consequences of being a disbeliever in the hereafter (18: 29). He emphasizes that it wasn’t a hard job for Him to make all the creation believe in Him, but He didn’t, and He tells His prophet: “will you then force men till they become believers?” (10: 99), while God has created human with free will and the capability to choose.
Freedom of thought is encouraged in Islam as long as it does not lead people and society toward divorcement. “The objective of speech and expression according to Islam is to build up love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members to ensure a peaceful coexistence.”  Therefore, freedom of thought is permitted in Islam as long as it does not harm the society.
There is a fundamental rule in Islam, to which other rulings must not be contrary. A Muslim should neither be harmed nor should he harm anyone else. When thoughts are harmful to people in the society, Islam limits freedom in expressing the thoughts that may create social disorder, since one point that is important in Islam, is to provide people with efficient rulings and ideologies to prevent them from bewilderment.
If one believes in any other religion or ideology rather than Islam and lives with his belief, no one can force him to convert to Islam. Nor can anyone condemn him for not being a Muslim, because accepting Islam is a personal and rational issue and people cannot be followers of others in this regard.
But if a person who was born a Muslim or was converted to Islam freely and after personal investigations, leaves Islam, he is among apostates in Islam. However, not everyone who leaves Islam is sentenced to execution. An apostate who is sentenced to execution is the one who “renounces a religious or political belief or principle, not a person who is doubtful about principles of religion.” 
There are some main beliefs that denying them will make a person an apostate based on Islamic jurisprudence:
1. Denying God,
2. Denying monotheism,
3. Denying prophet-hood of the prophet,
4. Denying the prophet himself,
5. Denying the necessities of religion after knowing their necessity, such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, etc.
6. Enmity with or humiliating the religion and its sacred places or books or beliefs.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran; “He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief-- on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.” (16: 106)
In the above verse and other verses that talk about apostasy, there is no ruling about an execution sentence for the apostate. But in all the verses Allah warns them of a huge punishment in this world and the hereafter. 
Therefore, according to Most Muslim Jurists, if Muslims leave Islam because of their misconceptions about Islamic principles, they are not to face a death penalty, but even they have to be supported by other Muslims and Muslim scholars to continue their investigations until they find the right path in their life. 
But if an apostate leaves Islam, while he knows that Islam is the real truth, and expresses his ideas against Islam overtly and extensively, in a way that he misguides other people from this faith, then under some conditions he is sentenced to execution.
According to Mutahhari, the death penalty for an apostate is applicable only in the realm of the Islamic government for the interest of the Islamic society. 
Also based on the ruling of Ayatullah Khomeini with regards to Salman Rushdie’s book against Islam and the Prophet of Islam, if someone who lives outside the realm of the Islamic government, commits acts by which he would insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims, or threaten the interests of Islamic government, He is ruled to be sentenced to execution.
As the rulings on the execution sentence for apostates in Islam is based on different aspects that can be realized by the jurists and may vary from time to time, based on the conditions of the time, there is no exact definition for the apostate who is sentenced to death. And if the death penalty applies to an apostate, it will be notified by the Muslim jurists.
- Bhat AM (2014) Freedom Of Expression From Islamic Perspective. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 6: 69-77.
- apostasy in Islam
- the Quran: [2: 217] & [5: 54]
- Hilli, Hassan bin Yusuf, Tahrir Al-Ahkam, vol.2, p. 336
- Makarem Shirazi, N. Maktab e Esalam, year 24, No. 6
Another year has come around and another Hajj (holy pilgrimage) period has started for Muslims from all around the world. Those who have decided to take part in this year’s Hajj may have already made some preparations for this holy journey or are in the process of gathering their stuff and making arrangements. But even when we think we are more than ready, we find ourselves saying: “Oh, I forgot that!” right on the way to the airport!
Hajj is a journey that every Muslim is required to participate and loves to do so. However, according to Islamic principles, before deciding to take part in this occasion, you should ask yourself these three questions:
1. Can you afford Hajj financially? [i] (This includes buying tickets, hotel expenses, and your expenses during your stay in Mecca and Medina, etc.)
2. Are you physically able to perform Hajj rituals? [ii]
3. Is the route to Mecca and Medina (to which I recommend you to travel and have a plan for it) safe and open? [iii]
If you are positive about all the above questions, you are considered to be Mustati (i.e., obliged to take part in Hajj) . Then you can start preparing yourself for this journey. If not, don’t get disappointed. Pray to Allah to give you the necessary abilities for participating in the next year Hajj.
Hajj is first and foremost a spiritual journey. A journey to the depth of your soul. If you don’t know why you are taking all these difficulties, then your effort will lose its meaning. Like any other action in Islam, you should perform Hajj with the intention of Allah’s satisfaction and surrendering to His will.
Search for a travel agency which offers various Hajj packages and consult with them about the necessary documents you need in order to ask for visa from Saudi Arabia. You can also visit the website of Saudi Arabia‘s Ministry of Hajj for more information.
You can also ask your friends or acquaintances who have taken this journey before about the best travel agency for Hajj. Or you can visit the nearest mosque or Islamic center in your city, and ask the Muslims there about travel agencies.
Either way, make sure you know about the date, duration, accommodation, your representative there, and the type of transportation your agency offers within Mecca and to Medina. You can find some useful questions to ask from travel agencies on this website.
The best way is to google it. Try to have a clear view of all the places you will visit during Hajj such as Mina, Arafat, etc. You can download a map and see the locations. Also make sure you check the weather, to know which clothing best suits you. Typically Saudi Arabia is hot during Hajj rituals so be ready for a hot and sunny journey!
Since Hajj rituals take much energy and need a healthy body to complete the tasks before everything visit your doctor and have a check-up. If there are any medicines that you should use during your journey, make sure you get the prescription from the doctor and buy the medicines beforehandedly.
Hajj is a one-month journey, so you will need many things during this time. Here is a list of some necessary or useful things to pack in your baggage for Hajj:
An extra set of clothing (white underwear, trousers, hijab, white socks, etc.)
Waist Pouch (Fanny Pouch)
slippers (flip-flops, thongs), sneakers
towels (2 large, 2 small)
elastic eye-glass holder
sunglasses (or clip-on sunshades)
travel alarm clock
A scent-free lotion or Vaseline
A scent-free sun protection free
A medical face mask
toothbrush and toothpaste
small shampoo bottle
some plastic bags
Saudi Arabia’s Money (Rials)
Guidelines for Hajj
pen, pencil, notebook
A praying mat
A small copy of Quran, prayer and Dua books, Tasbeeh
Foods/Snacks/Water (some light food, like biscuits, cereals, nuts, dried fruits, etc.)[vi]
During Hajj rituals you will walk a lot. You should walk around Kaaba, walk the distance between Safa and Marva, etc. So, it’s important to have enough strength and be physically in good condition to be able to keep up with this endeavor.
Try to do some exercises and eat healthier food sometime before embarking on your journey to Mecca.
Yes, you need to write a will! Even if you are 25! But don’t worry it doesn’t mean that you won’t come back home. It’s just a way to make sure you have arranged all your worldly concerns properly, and you can start a spiritual journey with light and free soul. Make sure you consult with your lawyer after writing your will and legalize it.
You remember what happened at Mina two years ago, right? Many families were worried about their children, husbands, wives, etc. but they couldn’t reach out to them. So, it is very important to predict a proper way of communication with your hometown. This can be a Saudi Arabia SIM card or even any other SIM Cards that work abroad. You can also ask the hotel staff for their WIFI information.
Have an idea of the actions you need to perform during Hajj. Salam Islam has a complete guide to these rituals: Hajj, The Holy Pilgrimage. You can also buy a booklet or download an ebook about these rituals to have it with you during the journey. Then, understand the reason behind those actions. You can read our Philosophy of Hajj Rituals, to get a better grasp of the reason behind these rituals. This way, you will remember them more easily.
Most of the rituals during Hajj are time-bound. For example, you have only a few hours to perform stoning Jamarat. Also, the process of Ihram and actions in the Arafat need to be done during a certain time. So, you need to work on your time management so that you won’t lose any of those actions.
Hajj is not an easy journey. It is not a summer vacation. It is an Islamic obligation and a life-changing journey. During this time, you will face many difficulties, and sometimes you may find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of interesting yet difficult physical activities or prayers you are required to do.
However, think of it as a chance to be purified and as an opportunity to strengthen your patience. For, every precious reward comes after consistency and patience.
As you are well aware, Muslims are not just of a certain nationality or country. In every country and with every nationality, you can find people who believe in Islam. Hajj is a chance for this huge community to gather together and be unified despite their differences.
So, during your journey, you may encounter people with different colors, languages, outfits, etc. Try to be respectful and modest toward everyone, no matter where they come from or how they look.
During Hajj you might have to join a group. And you will be with them every day of this one month period. You will accompany them in every ritual and action. So, try to prepare yourself for more cooperation and sacrifice. Sometimes you may need your roommate’s help, and in return, he/she may need yours. Try to be nice and generous.
After all, you want to participate in Hajj for a good reason: Self-awareness. This is a journey to find out who we are and why we are here. So, practice on the good in you and try to improve them. Be the best you can be. And prove that you deserve Allah’s invitation.
[i] One of the requirements for Hajj to be obligatory for a Muslim is financial ability – i.e., you have enough money to support yourself and your family on your journey .
[ii] Another requirement for performing Hajj is physical ability- i.e., Hajj is not obligatory for the sick, the old or those who are either unable or would face severe hardship .
[iii] Another requirement for obligatory Hajj is Sirbi ability - i.e., the route is open and safe .
[iv] To buy Ihram you can follow these links:
[v] Make sure about the kinds of medications you are allowed to have with you according to Saudi Arabia’s airport costume.
[vi] Make sure about the rules of Saudi Arabia with regard to carrying food in your packages at the airport.
- Hajj, The Holy Pilgrimage
Have you ever thought about the concept of earning in Islam? Or what role wealth plays in our lives and why we really need to earn money? To some people, money could be a result of the exchange of value. In other words, what you are doing is of value to someone, and that is why you are paid for it.
You might get excited to know the value you are delivering to people is making their lives better; then you will be probably more motivated to enhance your get-rich potential and try to make more and more money! This would be an ideal reason for someone to earn money. However, we all need money to spend for certain reasons, e.g., food, clothing, shelter, etc.
Muslims believe wealth is one of the innumerous blessings of Allah that is referred to as ‘Khair’ -meaning goodness- in some verses of the Holy Quran (2:215, 2:180). In another verse, it is mentioned as an attraction of this worldly life (18:46). What’s more, gaining wealth has been given so much importance in the religion of Islam that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Seeking lawful earnings is compulsory for every Muslim” .
Islam also seriously recommends attaining the sustenance provided by God through hard work and striving. It is stated in the Islamic narrations that Allah does not like a person who prays for income while he has quit earning and does not try for it . The holy Quran also says:
“That nothing belongs to man except what he strives for, and that he will soon be shown his endeavor, then he will be rewarded for it with the fullest reward” (53:39-41).
Along with the importance Islam attaches to gaining wealth through hard work, it places greater emphasis on making money through lawful (Halal) ways.
“Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth, and do not follow in Satan’s steps” (2:168).
Based on this verse, consuming only what is lawful (Halal) and good, and abstaining from unlawful (Haram) things, are among the basic principles of the Islamic lifestyle. Many Islamic narrations advise and praise the acquisition of livelihood through fair means, i.e., NOT through stealing, cheating, betting, etc. Islam actually underscores the importance of productive enterprises that can increase output and generate jobs; this is the reason why earning money through gambling is Haram in this religion.
According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in order for an income (in trading) to be Halal, one should not
fault the product he/she is buying,
praise the product he/she is selling,
swear to God while trading .
“Whoever lives on Halal earnings for forty days, God shall enlighten his heart” . Some benefits of earning income through fair means are:
Receiving the Protection of God
Allah says: “If what you eat is Halal and pure, I will protect you” .
Acceptance of Prayer
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says if you want your prayer to be accepted and fulfilled by Allah, make sure your income is Halal and pure .
Receiving God’s Glory and Honor on the Day of Judgment 
Strengthening One’s Faith [i]
Getting Allah’s Blessings and Favors (Barakah):
Your income sometimes may not seem enough, but if it is gained through Halal ways, it will be blessed by Allah; so it will suffice: “And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him” (65:3)
“You see many of them actively engaged in sin and aggression, and consuming illicit gains. Surely, evil is what they have been doing” (5:62).
Here are a few negative effects that await people who choose the wrong way of earning money (by foul means) either for their greed or deprivation:
Their Halal income will be reduced, and they will be deprived of Allah’s blessings (Barakah) 
Their prayers will not be answered .
They will become hard-hearted and cruel .
Consumption of Haram will have negative effects on their offspring and descendants .
Our sustenance lies with Allah
Finally, we should always remember that God is the All-provider (51:58) who has ordained Halal sustenance for all creatures, and the creatures’ efforts to earn their living is placed alongside His will. So, we will definitely reach what is provided for us by Him if we try more patiently, and if we are content with and thankful for what we already have.
God has not forgotten any of us; the Holy Quran says: “There is no animal on the earth, but that its sustenance lies with Allah, and He knows its [enduring] abode and its temporary place of lodging. Everything is in a manifest Book” (11:6) Then we had better avoid what Allah has told us is unlawful (Haram) since:
“Yet it may be that you dislike something, which is good for you, and it may be that you love something, which is bad for you, and Allah knows, and you do not know” (2:216).
[i] “Never give up striving for lawful livelihood as it reinforces your faith”. Imam Sadiq (AS) 
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 103, p. 9
- Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, p. 582
- Ibid p.589
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 53, p. 326
- Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, p.589
- al- Daawat, p. 24
- Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 14, p. 249
- Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, p. 593
- earning in Islam
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 71, p.128