Objection # 9: You can’t leave Islam once you’re in:
Apostasy: The Bible prescribes death by stoning for apostasy: “You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God..”(Deutronomy;13:10). Apostasy has always been considered as a capital offence in all the religions and political systems of the world, because it is considered as a high treason against the established norms of society. The pagan Romans brutally killed the early Christians on same ground. Subsequently this practice was repeated by the Christian Church against opposing Christians, who were killed and burnt alive. Certain church theologians of the 4th and 5th centuries considered apostasy to be as serious as adultery and murder. In the 20th century, the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law still imposed the sanction of excommunication for those whose rejection of the faith fitted the technical definition of apostasy. Death penalty for apostasy remained in force in England for long time. It was abolished due to social and cultural developments.
In early Islam, the pagans of Makkah, and Jews of Medina used to indulge in this practice to gain intelligence and to demoralize the fragile expanding Muslim community of Median. Hence apostasy is considered as a major sin in Islam. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars. Some believe that the apostate should be punished after trial because they consider this crime as a betrayal, high treason against the community, while others opine that if someone changes his faith and does not challenge the Islamic society, it is a matter between him and Allah, Who will punish him in hereafter. However, both opinions agree that it is a major worst form of sin punishable by Allah. As per Qur’an; “Those who turn back as apostates after Guidance was clearly shown to them the Evil One has instigated them and buoyed them up with false hopes.”(Qur’an;47:25). Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits adultery and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.17). Non-Muslims are allowed to teach their faith to their followers, but they are not allowed to go against the mainstream of the Muslim society.
In many societies blasphemy in some form or another has been an offense punishable by law. The Mosaic Law decreed death by stoning as the penalty for the blasphemer :“Bring forth him that has cursed outside the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And you shall speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curses his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemes the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.” [Leviticus 24:14-16]. In Christianity, blasphemy has been regarded as a sin by moral theologians; St. Thomas Aquinas described it as a sin against faith. Under the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565) the death penalty was decreed for blasphemy. In the United States many states have legislation aimed at the offense. In Scotland until the 18th century it was punishable by death, and in England it is both a statutory and a common-law offense. It was recognized as the latter in the 17th century; the underlying idea apparently was that an attack on religion is necessarily an attack on the state. This idea probably has been the reason why penalties have been laid down for blasphemy in some secular legal codes.
Muslim consider it is blasphemy to speak contemptuously not only of God [and His Word, Qur’an] but also of Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]. The non Muslims should respect this and should not do any action which may hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion people. Muslims believe and respect all the Biblical prophets and revelations of God till Jesus Christ [pbuh] and don’t differentiate among them.[Qur’an2:136], they respect their places of worship [Qur’an22:40] and not to revile the deities of non Muslims[Qur’an; 6:108].
In the present era all the signatories of UN charter have to see that the covenant is not against the spirit of Islam: “You shall fulfill your covenants; surely you shall be held accountable for your pledges.”[Qur’an;17:34]; “O believers! Be true to your covenants!”[Qur’an;5:1]. The term ‘aqd (“covenant”) denotes a solemn undertaking or engagement involving more than one party. According to Raghib, the covenants referred to in this verse “are of three kinds: the covenants between God and man [i.e., man’s obligations towards God], between man and his own soul, and between the individual and his fellow-men” – thus embracing the entire area of man’s moral and social responsibilities.