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Message to Iran: Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

17 March 2012 29 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Message to Iran: Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Youcef Nadarkhani should be released from Iranian jail immediately. In fact, he should have never been jailed in the first place.

Nadarkhani faces possible execution in Iran for the “crime” of apostasy and Christian evangelism. In the face of mounting international pressure, the Iranian regime has said Nadarkhani was actually charged with more serious crimes unrelated to religion, but barring new evidence to the contrary, this appears to be a face-saving lie.

The regime in the so-called “Islamic” Republic of Iran urgently needs to reread the Qur’an, including Chapter 109, Surat Al-Kafirun -The Disbelievers, and (among others) verses 2:625:69, and 2:256:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Qur’an 2:256)

Further reading should also include the excellent, in-depth article by Danios regarding apostasy in Islam: Fathima Bary Needs to Read Her Bible; Final Word on Islam and Apostasy.

No matter what excuses are offered by Iranian authorities, the persecution of religious minorities is un-Islamic and just plain wrong.

Pastor Nadarkhani, Islam and Punishment for Apostasy

by Harris ZafarThe Huffington Post

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is currently on death row in Iran for the “crime” of converting to Christianity from Islam. The charges of his initial arrest in 2009 were for protesting, which were later changed to apostasy and evangelism. In Sept. 2010, an Iranian court verbally delivered a death sentence, which was then delivered in writing a month later by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal. After submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court the very next month, the third chamber of the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in June 2011 and the execution orders were given in Feb. 2012, which can be implemented at any time. Throughout the process, he was told his life would be spared if he recanted his belief in Christianity, which he refused to do.

This verdict clearly violates numerous human rights, which is why President Obama, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Amnesty International and the American Center for Law and Justice have all condemned this conviction and called for Nadarkhani’s release.

As a Muslim, however, I find this verdict’s religious violations equally troublesome. Far too many people — Muslim and non-Muslim — mistakenly believe Islam prohibits freedom of conscience and religion by prescribing punishments for matters like apostasy and blasphemy, whereas Islam’s Holy Scripture and Prophet do not support such punishments.

If Islam prescribed any earthly punishment for leaving the faith, it would mean that it compels one to be Muslim against their will. But chapter two of the Quran — Islam’s Holy Scripture –rejects this notion, stating, “there shall be no compulsion in religion.”

There are at least 10 direct verses in the Quran about those who leave Islam, none of which sanction death in response. Exemplifying the Quran’s principles, the Prophet Muhammad never ordered any person to be killed for apostasy. In his peace treaty with Meccans, he agreed that any Muslim recanting their faith would be allowed to return to Mecca unharmed. Muhammad’s acceptance of this condition demonstrates that no such punishment exists for apostasy, as he would never accept anything that went against the Shariah.

Yet some within the Muslim world argue these verses only apply to non-Muslims, whereas Muslims can be compelled in matters of religion. They cite examples during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad when Ibn Khatal, Musailmah and Maqees bin Sababah were put to death. These were not religious punishments for apostasy, however. They were political punishments for murders each individual had committed.

Death for apostasy had its birth several decades after the demise of Prophet Muhammad — in an age when use of force for spreading influence and ideology was common around the world. The Ummayyad dynasty (661-750) — the political rulers of the Muslim empire — were regarded as secular kings and did not have the religious position of the previous pious caliphs. To guard the Sharia, the kings appointed clergy to positions much like the clergy after Constantine’s conversion. Respected for their religious knowledge, their support was pursued to legitimize unpopular political regimes.

Political and social rebellions then became justified in religious expressions, and dynastic power struggles developed significant disagreements in religious doctrine. Thus began politically motivated punishments (including executions and crucifixions) aimed at abolishing any forms of objection.

While this view finds no credibility from Prophet Muhammad’s example, it has admittedly become more prevalent in the last century. For example, Abul Ala Maududi, influential cleric and founder of the Pakistani political party Jamaat Islami, advocated this erroneous view beginning in the 1930s. He wrote, “in our domain we neither allow any Muslim to change his religion nor allow any other religion to propagate its faith.”

Many believe Maududi’s view was reactionary and in response to the growing influence of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — who claimed to be the second coming Jesus and Messiah for all people to remove misconceptions in religion, unite everyone under the banner of true Islam, and bring mankind back to God. Half a century before Maududi, Ahmad condemned any punishment for blasphemy or apostasy and any violence to spread faith. He wrote, “Religion is worth the name only so long as it is in consonance with reason. If it fails to satisfy that requisite, if it has to make up for its discomfiture in argument by handling the sword, it needs no other argument for its falsification. The sword it wields cuts its own throat before reaching others.”

Sadly, apostasy and other “crimes” like blasphemy are punishable offences in some Muslim-majority countries today, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, etc. In these countries, apostasy and blasphemy are not only leveled against non-Muslims but even people the country deems to be the wrong type of Muslims.

The good news, however, is that though certain regimes apply extremist penal codes under the guise of Islam, the majority of Muslims recognize that Islam condemns religious compulsion. For example, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — Muslims who believe in that Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian — has advocated this position for over a century. In this continuing war of ideas, true success is through peace and logic — never violence.

Any attempt to compel Pastor Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith is barbaric and against the teachings of the Quran. The government leaders in Iran who have sentenced Pastor Nadarkhani to death, do so of their own accord. Quran and Prophet Muhammad, however, are clear — Pastor Nadarkhani must be set free.


  1. Great Response to this injustice.

  2. Well written article and to the point.

  3. iran can fuck off with their bullshit law

  4. Great article. Direct, very direct. :))

  5. Muslims use lynch mobs and discriminatory laws to harrass non muslims. It is easy and fun to scream desecration of Koran and run amok.

    On March 21, 2007, Christianah Oluwasesin, a schoolteacher in Nigeria, was clubbed, stomped and burned to death in her schoolyard by a mob of schoolgirls in hysterics, accusing her of placing a bookbag containing a Koran on the floor. As she lay expiring an islamic thug ran up and slit her throat. There was a trial but no punishment that I heard of.

    The Koran was never found.

    One year in US a woman claimed to have received a defaced Koran from a book company. She showed it on TV, a very large book. She demanded pots of money and classes on Islam to be given in the schools….turned out she was a CAIR official… hahaha.

    Other wild stories I have been hearing for years – kidnapping of non muslim women, forcing them to convert.

    You know, Islam, the muslims, etc. have been regarded as a menace to the rest of us for a long time now. Not a new thing.

  6. It doesn’t matter what Islam says or the law says if people are allowed to murder and harrass their fellow citizens with impunity.

  7. Anon
    Christians and Jews murder and rob and steal too. Yet, no one gives a crap about their religion. No doubt, what these So called Muslims do is wrong but seriously? The KKK? All they ever did was kill and torture African Americans and use biblical verses to back themselves up. Hm..

    To say Islam itself is the culprit means you have a very poor understanding of what is going on.

    Besides that, this is a great article.

  8. Iran is our friend! but we got to stay wake! we don’t want to get up in the morning and find the Arabian peninsula become an Shiite state! but other than that free that pastor if he didn’t do any wrong, or standed against the country’s laws!

  9. Islam, like other religions, is an abstraction. It does not “do” things. The believers do things.

    One of the problems going on is that as in the old US south where the KKK was allowed to run amok, violent persons are allowed to run amok in various muslim places as a useful tool to keep minorities frightened or drive them away.

  10. loooooool @ darkius blizzard … scared of shiite, yeah ??? LABAYK YA 7USSAIN !!!!!!!

  11. This is a perfect reason why church and state should always be separate whether it’s christian America (which it is turning to be) Jewish Israel or Islamic Iran. If it is not it springs hatred between countries over thousand of years of predijuices

  12. If Iran’s thinking about giving him the axe over protesting I think it’s wrong that they should do something so harsh & opressive.
    If they are using his Christian faith as a scapegoat to kill him then they should free him & give him mercy unless he was making people convert.
    If he’s an apostate then let he have a suiting punishment that will continue afterlife (references exist for the execution to be lawful)… But ofcourse it would be better for him to repent sincerely not out of force.

    Just my opinion, I don’t speak for x amount of Muslims though nor Islam.

  13. God please grant him mercy. I am so tired of people twisting religion for their own political agenda. Islam says to protect Christians and Jews in a Muslim land. He did not become Pagan. Let him go.

  14. Bilal, I’m for freedom of belief. The same as Christians chose Islam and become Muslims without fearing death…it would be also logical for either Muslims or Jews. I’m a pround Muslim though, I’m just speaking logically here.

  15. Elle, I agree that Christians and Jews do Murder and commit crimes. The difference is that, in most cases, they do not do it in the name of God or their religion. Too many Muslims try to seek cover under Islam for their actions. That is why I liked this article as it is one if the few that attempts to lift the blanket of spirituality off an injustice being committed in the name of God or religion.

  16. What’s wrong with being a Pagan?

  17. Joseph don’t believe in God, so God is angry with you. (not you persomally) and even if you are a pagan,Muslims should not pick on you.

  18. Dark he did stand against the countrys laws duh. That’s why he’s in jail

  19. Rachel
    Now who said Iran was correct,

  20. It doesn’t matter if they are correct or not. A man is still in hail for converting.

  21. And thats the whole point of the article…hence the name “free pastor youcef nadarkhani”

  22. Criley
    The Nazis, many were Christian and claimed that with their “holy hate” they could exterminate the Jews and “save the world”.

    Israelis-So many claim that their dear Abba told them to steal what was rightfully theirs and kill whoever stood in their way.

  23. islam is islam muslim is muslim and only him can solve our problem

  24. Ruh-roh, Lama….I guess “god” is very angry with me, lol.

    and what’s up with that dude spouting hatred against Shi’a whilst wearing my beloved Communist symbols?

  25. You believe what you want Zainab, I’m not gonna try convincing you or ‘warning’ you.

  26. Hey Anon,
    U live in a country that has committed war crimes around the world and will never be prosecuted for them. Examples: Killed over a million Muslims over the last 10 years (not including terrorists), soilders piss on their dead bodies, Sikhs mistaken as Muslims are killed, burning mosques and Qurans, torturing people in Abu Grave and Guantanamo, etc. And these break your OWN LAWS. So perhaps its your violent laws that are allowing this to happen? What’s that? “No, our laws protect ppl.” Well ppl are still dying because of what you do. Yes, I blame you, because if you really didn’t support the government it wouldn’t be happening. Because who cares if your laws protect human rights? You are breaking them yourself. Must be because u are atheists and hate all religions which is why you don’t fight for human rights in your own country.

    This was a sarcastic comment to prove your illogical way of thinking. Go back to school.

  27. I think many more people, muslim and non, will die as the disorder goes on. Muslims should focus on their own problems instead of making everyone else the goat. The rest of us must withdraw and let them figure it out.

    China has leased a portion of Pakistan and i think will melt over the rest of that country and perhaps several others like butter on hot rice.

    Karzai just said they were caught between 2 demons, the US and the Taliban. They do not have the strength to resist the Taliban on their own. One of the stan countries – Tajikistan or Uzbekistan – has offered to take them over after US leaves. Probably don’t want a violent camp in their midst.

  28. Wouldn’t work anyway, sweetie. I’ve been exposed so much to it that I’m immune.

  29. Ok? Maybe just not the right way. Girls take off hijab because they werr forced or made fun off. For example. Just saying, the way I see it, you’ve been exposed to negativity and issues.

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