The issue of apostasy falls under the umbrella of man's free will, freedom of expression and belief. The Holy Qur'an states unequivocally that nobody
can be compelled to either become a Muslim or remain one. In Surah 4: 137, Allah says, "Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the
truth, and again come to believe and again deny the truth and thereafter, grow stubborn in their denial of the truth, God will not forgive them, nor
will He guide them in any way." This ayah very clearly shows that even after rejecting Islam twice, no punishment is prescribed for the apostates.
The punishment for apostasy mentioned in Islamic literature is derived from hadiths whose authenticity is not certain (as these hadiths are ahad -from
one source, but not mutawatir- from a consensus of sources). Even among those scholars who accept them as authentic, there is vast difference of
opinion on the interpretation and elaboration of the hadiths. Such hadiths have been traditionally cited as justification for executing apostates, but
these were circumstantial rulings where legal authorities of that time deemed the punishment justified, as the act of apostasy in question, or in
some cases, mass apostasy was comparable to treason or to an organized crime outfit, where the apostates would ally themselves with the opponents
of the state.
Such hadiths, which have, in the past, been cited to justify punishment for apostasy, therefore, cannot stand against the Qur'an, which provides no
textual evidence for such action. On the contrary, the Qur'an states in Surah 10: 99: "If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of
the world should be believers, all the people of the world would have believed! Would you then compel them against their will to believe?"
In conclusion, the Qur'an is the definitive clear authority for protecting the rights of an individual in expressing himself in faith and supercedes
any of the distorted interpretations of the hadiths in question. Executing a person because of conversion to another faith contradicts the Qur'an, the
ultimate source of Shari'ah.