Religious Right in Their Own Words; Apostasy Punishment, Jihad and the Role of Non Muslims in the Land of Infidels

 Part 3

By Adnan Syed

This series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a politically Islam dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.




While no simple or unanimous definition for a Muslim was given by all the ulamas, they were clearly unanimous about the punishment for apostasy in an Islamic state. The punishment for apostasy was unequivocally, death.

With this doctrine, the religious leaders were clearly referring the then foreign minister Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan. If Chaudhry Zafrullah had not inherited his present (Ahmadi) beliefs, but had voluntarily elected to become an Ahmadi, he ought to be put to death.

However, while the punishment for apostasy was unanimous, the ulamas could not agree on who exactly is an apostate. Remember various criteria that was narrated by various leaders on who constitutes a Muslim? Now the same uneasy differences were making it hard for the leaders to decide who ought to be put to death.

Maulana Shafi Deobandi said that if he were the head of state of an Islamic Government, he would “exclude those who have pronounced Deobandis as kafirs from the pale of Islam and inflict on them the death penalty if they come within the definition of murtadd, namely, if they have changed and not inherited their religious views”.

The commission further quizzed Maulana Shafi Deobandi on the genuineness of the Deobandi fatwa that declared Asna Ashari Shias as kafirs and murtadds. Maulana Sahib himself made an enquiry on this fatwa from Deoband, and received a signed copy of the aforementioned fatwa, which not only verified the genuineness of that fatwa, but went on to say that “those who do not believe in the sahabiyyat (revering the original companions of the Holy Prophet) of Hazrat Siddiq Akbar and who are qazif (guilty of making vile comments) of Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa (wife of the Holy Prophet, and daughter of Hazrat Siddiq Akbar) and have been guilty of tehrif (distorting the meaning) of Qur’an are kafirs”.

Another Alim, Mr. Ibrahim Ali Chishti, who had studied that topic, believed that Shias are Kafirs as they believe that Hazrat Ali (the fourth caliph and prophet’s cousin) shared the prophethood with the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Mr. Chishti however refused to answer if any Sunni changed his views and becomes a Shia, ought to be put to death or not.

The confusion of the Muslimness and right to kill the apostates led the justices to remark yet again that:

“According to the Shias all Sunnis are kafirs, and Ahl-i-Qur’an; namely, persons who consider hadith to be unreliable and therefore not binding, are unanimously kafirs and so are all independent thinkers. The net result of all this is that neither Shias nor Sunnis nor Deobandis nor Ahl-i-Hadith nor Barelvis are Muslims and any change from one view to the other must be accompanied in an Islamic State with the penalty of death if the Government of the State is in the hands of the party which considers the other party to be kafirs. And it does not require much imagination to judge of the consequences of this doctrine when it is remembered that no two ulama have agreed before us as to the definition of a Muslim”.

But the answers of the religious right about indiscriminate killing of the apostates had the Justices wondering about what kind of religion do these fanatic alims really represent? The positive treatment for anyone who uses independent thinking or reasoning to accept Islam, vs. the death sentence for someone who uses the reasoning to reject Islam would cast Islam as a fanatical religion, and “an embodiment of complete intellectual paralysis”. The justices pointed out that the “Quran again and again lays emphasis on reason and though, advises toleration and preaches against compulsion in religious matters”.

If anything, the chilling confusions of the political Islam that would soon strangle the new state of Pakistan, were on full display in the pages of the Munir-Kiyani Report.


So what about the right for the non Muslims to preach kufr (way of the infidels) in an Islamic State?.

There was a broad unanimity of what to do in this case. No faith other than Islam could be preached in an Islamic State. Maulana Moudoudi had by that time written a full pamphlet on the case for apostates in an Islamic State. Since many of the alims were considering the other sects to be non Muslims already, implication was that the “non Muslim sect” would also not be allowed any proselytizing in the “Islamic” state. Case in point, the words of Ghazi Siraj-uddin Munir when question on the point:

Q.—What will you do with them (Ahmadis) if you were the head of the Pakistan State?

A.—I would tolerate them as human beings but will not allow them the right to preach their religion”.


The interviews turned towards the doctrine of Jihad, and began focusing on the concepts related to Jihad and how they correspond to modern international problems such as international criminal jurisdiction, international conventions and rules of public international law.

Let’s get some definitions first here: An Islamic State is dar-ul-Islam (The House of Islam) where “ordinances of Islam are established and which is under the rule of a Muslim sovereign. Its inhabitants are Muslims and also non-Muslims who have submitted to Muslim control and who under certain restrictions and without the possibility of full citizenship are guaranteed their lives and property by the Muslim State. They must, however, be people of Scriptures and may not be idolaters. An Islamic State is in theory perpetually at war with the neighbouring non-Muslim country, which at any time may become dar-ul-harb, in which case it is the duty of the Muslims of that country to leave it and to come over to the country of their brethren in faith”.

Maulana Moudoudi, one of the foremost brains behind the political Islam movement in Pakistan had this to say about his idea of dar-ul-harb (house of infidels).

Q.—is a country on the border of dar-ul-Islam always qua an Islamic State in the position of dar-ul-harb?

A.—No. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the Islamic State will be potentially at war with the non-Muslim neighbouring country. The non-Muslim country acquires the status of dar-ul-harb only after the Islamic State declares a formal war against it”.

Introduction of potential war against Dar-ul-Harb causes further complications. According to the shorter encyclopaedia of Islam, when a country becomes a dar-ul-harb (belonging to the infidels), it is the duty of all Muslims in that country to leave that country en-masse and migrate to the dar-ul-Islam. Wives who refuse to accompany their Muslim husbands in migration would be ipso facto divorced.

The obvious reference here was India where forty million Muslims were residing and if Pakistan were to become an Islamic state, those Muslims suddenly had an obligation according to these learned Maulanas to move to Pakistan.

 I would slightly digress here, and point out that most of the religious right bitterly opposed Pakistan. In fact, some of the very interviewees called vile names for Pakistan and its founder before the independence in 1947. But such are the expediencies in the name of religion that the same country is now being hailed as an Islamic fortress and home to all Muslims in India by the same religious leaders. Why? Because India was now the land of the infidels. And the country they opposed tooth and nail to form was now being considered the land of the pure.

 Coming back to the interviews, another question was asked now to the alims; what to do with the prisoners of war in case of a battle between the Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harb. Maulana Qadri’s remarks were quite close to other replies:

 “Q.—Is there a law of war in Islam?


 Q.—Does it differ in fundamentals from the present International Law?


 Q.—What are the rights of a person taken prisoner in war?

A.—He can embrace Islam or ask for aman, in which case he will be treated as a musta’min. If he does not ask for aman, he would be made a slave”.

The religious leaders also mentioned that ghanima (plunder) and khums (one fifth of the enemy property) were a necessary incident of a Jihad.


 But then, the justices asked the alims about what the non Muslims ought to do in a land governed by kafir governments. Mr. Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari opined that “it is not possible for a Musalman to be a faithful citizen of a non Muslim state”. When asked that if it was possible for the forty million Muslims of India to be faithful towards India, his reply was “no”.

 So much for condemning the Indian Muslims as traitors in the land of their birth; but the Muslim right wing leaders were not just showing their poor understanding of the formation of modern nationalist identities; in their enthusiasm to divide the world in the believer vs. the non believer realms, they were condemning the Muslims living in non Muslim majority areas to a life of discrimination that they were eyeing for their very own minorities.

 Justice Munir and Kiyani asked a simple question: If an Islamic state was to discriminate against its non Muslim population, would the religious leaders be fine if India treats its Muslim minority the same way. Some sample answers are given below:

 Moudoudi: “Certainly. I should have no objection even if the Muslims of India are treated in that form of Government as shudras and malishes and Manu’s laws are applied to them, depriving them of all share in the Government and the rights of a citizen. In fact such a state of affairs already exists in India”.

 Qadri:  “No objection to Muslims treated under a Hindu government as malishes and shudras under the law of Manu”.


Ghazi Siraj Uddin Munir:

Q.—Do you admit for them the right to declare that all Muslims in India, are shudras and malishes with no civil rights whatsoever?

A.—We will do our best to see that before they do it their political sovereignty is gone. We are too strong for India. We will be strong enough to prevent India from doing this.

Q.—Is it a part of the religious obligations of Muslims to preach their religion?


Q.—Is it a part of the duty of Muslims in India publicly to preach their religion?

A.—They should have that right.

Q.—What if the Indian State is founded on a religious basis and the right to preach religion is disallowed to its Muslim nationals?

A —If India makes any such law, believer in the Expansionist movement as I am, I will march on India and conquer her.”



 The rampant confusion, the bloody ideologies and inherent discrimination in the political Islam shone through these interviews. We were lucky that we were able to document this confusion just seven years after our country was born. We were lucky that the designs of the religious right, with all their splendid confusion were laid bare by two respected Jurists of the new nation in such clear terms.

 We were terribly unfortunate to consign this document into the archives of our history, under the dust of the long 55 years, never seriously reading the message that screamed through these pages again and again. That fusing this chaotic medieval ideology with the newly formed state was a recipe for disaster. That the religious right, in its profound fanaticism, would become a catalyst for destruction, for Pakistan and across the world. That sooner Pakistan moves firmly towards a secular, equal for all humans, and democratic Pakistan envisioned by its founder, the better it would be for its future generations. Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech figures prominently in the Justice Munir and Kiyani Report. A forgotten and uncomfortable speech for many in the new state, right wing or not, who somehow saw Pakistan as an Islamic state and nothing more.

 I end this series again with more moving words by the late Justices. All of the material for this series has been taken from this report that is widely available on the internet (1). This series covers just a few, not all, of the interviews and their transcripts. I encourage all the readers to read pages 195 to 250 in particular, from where most of the interviews were reproduced.

 Pakistan is being taken by the common man, though it is not, as an Islamic State. This belief has been encouraged by the ceaseless clamour for Islam and Islamic State that is being heard from all quarters since the establishment of Pakistan. The phantom of an Islamic State has haunted the Musalman throughout the ages and is a result of the memory of the glorious past when Islam rising like a storm from the least expected quarter of the world—wilds of Arabia—instantly enveloped the world, pulling down from their high pedestal gods who had ruled over man since the creation, uprooting centuries old institutions and superstitions and supplanting all civilisations that had been built on an enslaved humanity…………..

 He (the Musalman) therefore finds himself in a state of helplessness, waiting for someone to come and help him out of this morass of uncertainty and confusion. And he will go on waiting like this without anything happening. Nothing but a bold re-orientation of Islam to separate the vital from the lifeless can preserve it as a World Idea and convert the Musalman into a citizen of the present and the future world from the archaic in congruity that he is today….

 It is this lack of bold and clear thinking, the inability to understand and take decisions which has brought about in Pakistan a confusion which will persist and repeatedly create situations of the kind we have been inquiring into until our leaders have a clear conception of the goal and of the means to reach it. 

And as long as we rely on the hammer when a file is needed and press Islam into service to solve situations it was never intended to solve, frustration and disappointment must dog our steps. The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should  understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.”






Filed under Constitution, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Islam, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion

28 responses to “Religious Right in Their Own Words; Apostasy Punishment, Jihad and the Role of Non Muslims in the Land of Infidels

  1. Amaar

    Very well said. The Munir-Kiyani report will be a monumental document for Pakistan’s future if the country is to survive.

  2. Adnan: this is an excellent series and I am glad that you took the time to write for PTH. The content and the context expose the dangers we have faced since the 1950s and which have now become a nightmare for our existence.

  3. sarah

    55 years on…. still the confusion

  4. ramesh

    a salute 0f respect to syed for this eye openner.2 honourable men had dissected the ideology of the bigots 60yrs ago,pity no one took notice.the creed of the invading arabs was never compatible with the conqered’s ethos or character and has remained as foreign as the day it was enforced.

  5. Bin Ismail

    1: Allah says: “There is no coercion in matters of religion.” (2:256 ). No coercion in matters of religion would mean:

    (a) no coercion for getting someone to enter the fold of Islam
    (b) no coercion for keeping someone within the fold of Islam
    (c) no coercion for making someone subscribe to a certain interpretation of Islam
    (d) no coercion for expelling someone from the fold of Islam

    In essence, what this verse teaches is that no form of coercion and compulsion is permissible in any matter that pertains to faith. This is exactly what commonsense would dictate because man should logically be accountable only for those actions born out of his free choice. No volition – no accountability. Coercion annuls free choice and is therefore not permissible in any matter of religion, according to the Quran.

    2: Allah says: “Whoever chooses to believe, let him believe and whoever chooses to disbelieve, let him disbelieve.” (18:29). Commonsense: If there is complete freedom in believing as well as disbelief, it follows that there is equal freedom in believing and then disbelieving.

    3: Allah says: “Those who believe and then disbelieve, then again believe and then again disbelieve, and then advance in disbelief, Allah will not grant them forgiveness nor will He guide them to the Path”. Even for repeated apostasy, there is no corporal punishment to be delivered by human hands. The only punishment mentioned is of spiritual nature, and awarded directly by God, without an intermediary human medium, hence no business of humans.

    4: Allah says to the Prophet to announce to the disbelievers: “Your religion is for you and my religion is for me” (109:6). If one person has been denied the right to poke his nose in another’s faith, as this verse declares, how is it conceivably possible for one to be allowed to force another to stick to a certain faith, under fear of death.

    Muslims have to choose between the Word of Allah and the word of the mullah.

  6. DG


  7. NSA

    Bin Ismail:

    How does what you write move from the realm of just another opinion about what the Quran says (after all, the religious leaders cited above have their own opinions which presumably have a following) into accepted truth? Is it a debate that can be settled, or will it continue from the last thousand years into perpetuity? If it cannot be settled, should it be removed from the political realm?

  8. Bin Ismail

    @ NSA (August 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm)

    Indeed there can be multiple opinions on any issue. Anyone can hold any opinion, as long as it is not to the detriment of someone else. For example a Catholic has all the right to consider a Protestant misled or a follower of Sanatan Dharm has the right to consider an Arya Samaji misguided, but the moment an individual assumes the self-proclaimed right to pose a threat to somebody else’s life, property or honour, merely due to difference on faith issues, he oversteps his own limits and foregoes his own right to carry on as part of that society.

    You have said, “If it cannot be settled, should it be removed from the political realm?” I would respectfully say that regardless of whether this debate can or cannot be settled, in any case, all religious debates must be removed from the political realm.

  9. Zainab Ali

    The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.

    Excellent lines to end the report; it’s a pity that this report had been buried in the archives for the last 55 years. The author has done the readers a great service by sharing this precious report.

  10. Sher Zaman

    The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.

    Excellent lines to end the report; it’s a pity that this report had been buried in the archives for the last 55 years. The author has done the readers a great service by sharing this precious report.

  11. Bin Ismail

    Honourable Justices Munir and Kiyani were truly men of integrity, men of honour and men of wisdom – among the best jurists this nation has had in 63 years. The report of their Commission needs to be widely propagated for the enlightenment of this nation.

  12. Majumdar

    Ismail bhai,

    Munir sb’s integrity was highly questionable- he was responsible for doctrine of necessity.


  13. AZW

    Majumdar, Bin Ismail:

    Justice Munir’s decision to uphold dissolution of the Constituent Assembly by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad was a bad decision that was responsible for a lot of subsequent dismantling of the democratic progress in Pakistan. If I remember correctly, it was Ayesha Jala who said that Pakistan still has not recovered from that judgement.

    Justice Munir’s decision to join the Ayub Government in the 1960s, and thus aligning himself with that dictator will probably not looked upon favourably by the history books.

    Whether it was lack of judgement by Justice Munir, or lack of honour? I think we ought to be careful in differentiating between the two. They are not always fungible.

    Perhaps others may explain Justice Munir 1954 decision better here.

    Justice Kiyani remained one of the most respected figures right up to his death. Regardless of Munir’s subsequent actions, the 1954 Report’s significance in documenting the disastrous relationship between political Islam and Pakistan cannot be underestimated.

  14. Bin Ismail

    @ AZW (August 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm)

    “…..Justice Kiyani remained one of the most respected figures right up to his death…..”

    That is very true, It is also said that while Munir led the commission, Kiyani did the greater part of the actual writing of the report. However, with respect to Munir, while one may differ with his judgements, as with anyone else’s verdicts, it may not be entirely logical to gauge his integrity and honesty by some of his controversial judgements. In the 50s, Pakistan was barely in its teens and in the 60s hardly into its twenties – still an extremely young and fragile nation – fragile enough to arouse anxiety in the minds of even the best of patriots. Patriots too, are susceptible to making controversial decisions, for which, in my opinion, their integrity should not be questioned, specially when their general track-record is clean.

  15. Humane

    Judgements made by the mullahs go on to show their lack of understanding of the nature of a
    country and Pakistan in particular. Because they were allowed to convey their twisted teachings to the public is why Pakistan has failed to prosper.
    Respect for the mullahs is too much to remove them from power. I bet if the Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report is brought to public notice, mullahs will leave no stone unturned in getting it banned and
    calling it a conspiracy to defame Islam.
    The state, as weak as it is, will succumb to their protests and Pakistan will return to its former conditions as they are today.

  16. Looking at the practical side of the issue, if the unanimous decision about apostasy is to be implemented, every single person in a Muslim state should be killed. Anyone who converts from Shia to Sunni, from Sunni to Shia, From Deobandi School to Barelvi School, from Hanafi School to Shafi’ school, from Wahabi to Sunni, according to this unanimous fatwa, will be subject to death penalty. What an inhumane society are these scholars suggesting in the name of Islam!!!

  17. The slogan ”Pakistan ka matlab kia? La Ilaha IlAllah” was never part of the Pakistan Movement. This, and other such slogans, mushroomed with the emergence of Islamisation movements in Pakistan. It is so paradoxical to note that those who later introduced such slogans are the same lot who saw ”Pakistan” as “Paleedistan”(filthy land). Those who now religiously attach the suffix of “Rahmatullah Alaih” with Quad i Azam’s name are the same lot who declared him ” Kafir e Azam”(the great infidel). The tragedy is that it is this group of hypocrites who are now, in the words of Qasim Zaman, the custodians of change in Pakistan.

  18. Nusrat Pasha

    @ Asif M Basit (August 31, 2010 at 10:59 am)

    Very valid point. The fact is that the proponents of theocracy, in Pakistan, by raising this slogan, seek to limit the limitless truth of “laa ilaaha illallah” to the confines of Pakistan. This is a very robust disservice to Islam. The Holy Quran intoduces Allah to us as Rabb ul aalameen. If anything, the slogan deserves to be rephrased as “Aalameen ka matlab kya laa ilaaha illallah”. The entire Cosmos is a sign of Allah. The whole Universe glorifies God. So who are we to limit something as boundless as “laa ilaaha illallh” to the boundaries of Pakistan? What appears to be or has been made to appear as a service to Religion, has actually emerged as a disservice.

    For a change, let us do some service to both Religion and the Country by keeping religion out of politics and politics out of religion.

  19. Infact, Sir Zafrulla Khan has written a book on the topic of apostacy in Islam. It is worth a read.

  20. Sol

    I am a student at JNU, New Delhi. About four days ago a protest organized by a small group of Kashmiri Sunni Muslim students here.

    Their rallying cry was this very same slogan: “laa ilaaha illallah”. But if you ask them, they claim that azadi is about “Kashmiriat” which is a secular concept.

    Maybe similar duplicity existed during Pakistan Movement.

  21. Bin Ismail

    @ Sol (August 31, 2010 at 10:30 pm)

    “…..Maybe similar duplicity existed during Pakistan Movement…..”

    There was no sign of this duplicity during the Pakistan Movement. The Jamaat-e Islami psyche had not been able to penetrate the Movement, because they openly opposed it. JI has however, gained influence in the Kashmir movement.

  22. Kaalket

    Is it right to conclude that Mullah knows Islam’s great teachings better than any secular or regular Muslim? How many Mullahs or Islamic Scholars in last 1400 years have been able to come up with correct intrepretation of actual real essential Islam ?

  23. @Kaalket

    From the accounts in these columns by knowledgeable, learned Muslim gentlemen, Mullahs have largely contributed confusion and distortion.

  24. Kaalket

    Then rationality demands this Mullah institution should be closed , shut down so no one loose life in the confusion caused by them. AFAIK, Islam has no need for priest then let average Muslim understand and practice Islam in personal capacity and not be swayed by these not so intelligent members of the Mulla tradition.

  25. @Kaalket

    Presumably you are already aware that religion stems from faith, and not from rationality.

    I’m an amateur in religious matters; you should address this to the learned. Having said that, what you have stated seems to be the sense of what is emerging from their writings, but not in black-and-white, erase the entire concept kind of terms; somewhere in between, it seems.

    Why not ask the knowledgeable?

    But be prepared for their scepticism. They might come right back and say, the original role of the Mullahs was to study scripture and the law. They became knowledgeable and thence influential. How does one guarantee, those we ask might respond, that we learned and knowledgeable people will not become the replacements of Mullahs in future?

    And then we shall say, why study the scripture and the law? And they will retort, when there are questioners among the believers about the interpretation of one passage or another, who then should settle our doubts?

    Ask your questions, but be prepared to invest some serious time, and above all, goodwill, in understanding the answers.

  26. Bin Ismail

    @ Kaalket (September 4, 2010 at 9:28 am)

    Hussain, known more commonly as Imam Hussain, was the son of Ali and Fatima. Fatima was the daughter of Muhammad the Messenger of God. Hussain was very dear to Muhammad, who would lovingly carry him on his shoulders, a sight that had been witnessed by thousands of early Muslims. Hussain grew to be a great saint. All sects of Muslims are agreed on the fact that Hussain was truly a spiritual man and a chosen man of God. When Yazeed, an immoral and licentious person, became king, he formed a council of ulema, the first politicized clergy in Muslim history. Before Yazeed could eliminate Hussain, he had to have a legal cover arranged. He directed his Council of Ulema to declare Hussain a kafir, murtadd, rebel and wajibul qatl. Such a fatwa had no precedence in Muslim history. Hence, was for the first time in the history of Muslims, a political clergy was created. The clergy issued the fatwa unanimously and Hussain and other members of the family of Muhammad were besieged and killed, at Karbala (presently Iraq). Thus was founded the institution of the politically ambitious mullahs. Thus was laid the foundation of declaring people infidels through fatwas and legislation. Thus began a long chain of events of religious persecution at the hands of a politicized clergy.

  27. O J DEEN

    %%%%% ” THE TRUE BELIEVERS ” %%%%%
    Who believe in the unseen and observe Prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;

    [2:5] And who believe in that which has been revealed to thee, and that which was revealed before thee, and they have firm faith in what is yet to come.

    [2:6] It is they who follow the guidance of their Lord and it is they who shall prosper.

  28. AZW

    OJ Deen:

    How are these quotes adding to our understanding of a true believer?

    A further explanation of what you are trying to say here would be helpful.