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Religions 2016, 7(7), 88; doi:10.3390/rel7070088

Faith and Freedom: The Qur’anic Notion of Freedom of Religion vs. the Act of Changing Religion and Thoughts on the Implications for Malaysia

1
Shariah and Law Department, Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2
Curriculum and Instruction Department, Faculty of Education, International Islamic University Malaysia, Jalan Gombak, 53100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Moojan Momen
Received: 23 December 2015 / Revised: 14 June 2016 / Accepted: 27 June 2016 / Published: 8 July 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [231 KB, uploaded 8 July 2016]

Abstract

The issue of freedom of religion has always been situated at the intersection between human rights, personal freedom of choice, religious belief and apostasy. While freedom supporters argue that one is free to choose his or her religion, including changing religion, the Qur’an has made it clear that Islam allows changing of religion so long as it is from any religion to Islam and not from Islam to another religion. Apostatizing from Islam is one of the gravest enormities cautioned with eternal punishment. In interpreting the meaning of freedom of religion and restricting it from the “freedom” to change religion, Muslim scholars have been careful to draw a line distinguishing between the two. This article examines the different interpretations given by scholars on the issue of freedom of religion according to the Qur’an. By using historical and thematic analysis, the writers evaluate the mufassirins’ (scholars of exegesis) views on the related Qur’anic verses. Interpretations of the classical Islamic legal sources are also examined to identify their opinions on the consequences of leaving Islam, followed by contemporary opinions. The objective is to show the development and changes, if any, in the approaches taken regarding the limitations of freedom of religion. This will enlighten the ways to handle the issue of apostasy, as it is seen as a highly divisive and controversial issue, and to highlight an ideal approach for Malaysia. View Full-Text
Keywords: freedom of religion; apostasy; human rights; Islam; Malaysia; legal pluralism freedom of religion; apostasy; human rights; Islam; Malaysia; legal pluralism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ismail, S.Z.; Awang Mat, M.Z. Faith and Freedom: The Qur’anic Notion of Freedom of Religion vs. the Act of Changing Religion and Thoughts on the Implications for Malaysia. Religions 2016, 7, 88.

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