Moderate Replacement for Moderate Imam Rauf: Public Apostates from Islam Should Be Jailed

by Andrew C. McCarthy

Aaron Klein is the World Net Daily reporter and WABC radio host to whom Imam Feisal Rauf could not bring himself to admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization, an episode I wrote about in a column last week. Mr. Klein has just uncovered a recent recording in which the imam who has replaced Rauf as the face of the Ground Zero Mosque explains that Islam’s sharia law requires the imprisonment of former Muslims who publicly renounce Islam.

“If someone leaves the din, leaves the path privately, they cannot be touched. If someone preaches about apostasy, or preaches their views, they’re jailed,” stated Shaykh Abdallah Adhami, a 44-year-old American and scholar of sharia. His remarks were made in a lecture two months ago.

Here is the moderate part: As Adhami acknowledged, many sharia jurists say that apostates — Muslims who renounce Islam — must be killed. But Adhami maintains that sharia distinguishes between “public” apostates and “private” apostates. Only the former, he says, must be punished and — to be even more moderate about it — they don’t have to be killed . . . just “jailed so they are contained.”

Feel better now? Not surprisingly, this enlightened position on apostasy places Shaykh Adhami close to another well known moderate, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi — the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual adviser who is, as previously noted, is much touted by Imam Rauf.

In The Grand Jihad, I outlined Sheikh Qaradawi’s views on apostasy from Islam, responding to his many admirers on the American Left — such as Georgetown University’s Saudi funded Islamic studies centers — who regard him as a great modernizer . . . notwithstanding his pronouncements that Islam will “conquer” America and Europe; his fatwas approving suicide bombings and the killing of Americans in Iraq; his incitement of rioting over the Danish cartoons; etc. I put it this way:

The sheikh’s admirers are quick to point out that he does not call for the death of all apostates, as terrorists and many other Islamists commonly do. And it’s true: for private apostates who quietly go their separate way, Qaradawi holds that ostracism is a sufficient penalty, with God left to impose the punishment of eternal damnation at the time of His choosing. Qaradawi draws a sharp distinction, however, on public apostasy, in which the renouncing Muslim seeks to infect and divide the umma with his disbelief.  For this “offense” — commonly committed by Muslim intellectuals and reformers — Qaradawi decrees that “the punishment . . . is execution.” [See MEMRI Report No. 208, "Accusing Muslim Intellectuals of Apostasy" (2005).]

It was Sheikh Qaradawi’s influential associate, the late Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali, who approved the killing of an authentic and courageous Muslim moderate reformer, Farag Fouda, by Egyptian militants. Sheikh Ghazali told an Egyptian court while testifying on behalf of the assassins that “anyone who openly resisted the full imposition of Islamic law was an apostate who should be killed either by the government or by devout individuals.” Fouda was a public apostate and critic of Islam. As Qaradawi has taught, “The gravest danger facing the Muslim is the one that threatens his spiritual existence — i.e., that threatens his belief. Therefore, apostasy, or unbelief after having been Muslim, is the gravest danger to society.” (For more on what Islam’s scriptures say about apostasy, see Robert Spencer’s post about Shaykh Adhami at Jihad Watch.)

Qaradawi and Ghazali both became credentialed sharia authorities at al-Azhar University. As I discuss in this morning’s column, al-Azhar is the most influential center of Muslim learning in the world, and one of its scholars has just explicitly endorsed “offensive jihad.”

Getting back to Shaykh Adhami, Aaron Klein goes on to cite a report by Joseph Klein about his appearance at the 2000 convention of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). (See this pro-Islamist site, scroll to the last item on IAP’s 14th Annual Convention.) The convention’s theme was “All Palestine Is Sacred.” Also addressing the gathering were Sami al-Arian, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative later convicted of material support to terrorism, and Azzam Tamimi, a British Palestinian supporter of Hamas and the Taliban, who rejects democracy and endorses suicide terrorism.

Coincidentally, IAP was established by Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. IAP’s role was to coordinate U.S. support for Hamas’s cause, the destruction of Israel. In the Brotherhood’s 1991 internal memorandum — presented by the Justice Department at the trial of an Islamic “charity,” the Holy Land Foundation, for funding Hamas — IAP was identified as one of the “organizations of our friends” that was complicit in what the Brotherhood described as its strategy for “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” by “sabotaging its miserable house.” They referred to the strategy as the “Grand Jihad,” which, I must admit, is a catchy title. 

How could anyone be so intolerant and Islamophobic that he can’t see how enormously our country would benefit from permitting Imam Rauf, Shaykh Adhami, and their friends to raise a colossal Islamic center and mosque on the site where Muslim terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans?

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