Official statement from Imam Yahya Hendi
March 22nd, 2006

Imam Yahya Hendi calls for the release of Afghan Christian

I call on the government of Afghanistan to release Abdul Rahman, a man facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity. According to my understanding of Islamic law (Shari’ah), belief is a personal matter not subject to the intervention of the state. Shari’ah Law safeguards the right of every human being to choose his/her own faith and tradition. Shari’ah law should not and must not be used by politicians to justify inhumane and cruel treatment of converts and religious minorities living in so-called Muslim Lands.

What the Islamic Shari’ah terms Hadd ul-Riddah must be distinguished from the right to convert out of Islam. Hadd ul-Riddah refers to the original rulings of early Islamic scholars on apostasy, which were similar to rulings concerning treason found in legal  systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual's choice of religion. Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, a position supported by such verses of the Qur’an, Islam's revealed text, as the following:

1) ‘If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?’ (10:99)

2) “Say, (O Prophet): 'This is the Truth from your Lord. Therefore, whoever wills let him believe, and whoever wills, let him disbelieve.'’ (18:29)

3) ‘If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their guardian. Yours is only the duty to convey My message.’ (42:48)

4) ‘Indeed, Let there be, absolutely, no compulsion or coercion in religion.’ Qur’an (2:256)

Let it be known by all humanity, both Muslims and non-Muslims  that religious belief should be a matter of personal choice, not a cause for government intervention. Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but rather coercion.

Islam with its divine truth has no need to compel belief. As the Qur’an states: ‘Truth stands out clear from error. Therefore, whoever denies false objects of worship, and believes in God has  grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold in which there is nor break..” Qur’an (2:256)

I urge the government of Afghanistan to order the immediate release of Mr. Abdul Rahman. I also urge my fellow Muslims to consider this issue with wisdom and understanding. Muslims must not allow any one to abuse the humane, compassionate teaching of Islam, nor allow their faith to be misrepresented by those who are ignorant of their faith’s central teachings of mercy, tolerance and justice.


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