Freedom of Religion in Shariah: Dimensions and Criteria

In the Name of Allāh,

the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful

Praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the worlds, may the blessings and peace be upon our master Muḥammad, the last of prophets, on his family, and all his companions.

Resolution No. 175 (1/19)

Freedom of Religion in Shariah: Dimensions and Criteria

The Council of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, holding its 19th session in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, on 1–5 Jumādā al-Ūlā 1430h (26–30 April 2009),

Having examined the research papers submitted to the Academy concerning the Freedom of Religion in Shariah: Dimensions and Criteria,

Having considered the importance of discussing the issue of religious free- dom by the Council of the Academy,

Having observed the pressing need inside and outside the Muslim world to know the standpoint of the Academy on this issue since it is a leading reference in Islamic jurisprudence,

Having listened to the discussions on the subject,


First: Religious freedom is a core principle of Shariah and a concept that stems from human nature and is tightly linked with responsibility in Islam. Subject to specific Shariah criteria. Religious freedom in Islam aims at main- taining human dignity.

Second: Religious freedom is well-guaranteed in the Islamic society and has to be safeguarded against the dangers of incoming thoughts and all forms of religious and nonreligious invasions which aim to dissolve the Islamic identity of the Ummah.

Third: Muslims are committed to abiding by the Quranic principle, «Let there be no compulsion in Religion.» (Al-Baqarah, 256) Throughout history, Muslims showed tolerance and acceptance of people of other faiths who lived with them under the umbrella of the Islamic state. Non-Muslims should also respect the Islamic faith and stop acts of daring against the Prophet SAW and the sacred places and symbols of Islam.

Fourth: Denominational and jurisprudential diversity is a natural phenom- enon, and cooperation among Muslims, irrespective of their sects, is a Shariah duty that has been explicitly emphasized in the Quran and Sunnah. Islam as

a faith calls for monotheism, unity and cooperation in areas of consensus and tolerance and to excuse each other in areas of differences.

Fifth: An end has to be put to the provocation of chaos around Islamic pos- tulates and fundamentals and raising suspicions within Muslim society about the well-known aspects of the Islamic faith. Such malpractices that are usually done under the veil of religious freedom should be strictly inhibited to safe- guard society and its religious and intellectual security and to leave no room for non-Muslims to use such erroneous ideas against Islam.

Sixth: Provision of Shariah opinion about disbelieve and apostasy should be exclusively left to recognized Fiqh scholars, whereas the judiciary takes in con- sideration what Fiqh scholars have indicated regarding the request of repent- ance and elimination of obscurity during the adequate grace periods, in order to achieve Shariah recognized concerns.

Seventh: Public show of apostasy constitutes a real danger for the unity of Muslim society and the Islamic faith and encourages non-Muslims or hypocrites to use it in raising suspicions against Islam. Therefore, the accuser of apostasy deserves punishment which can only be enforced by no other than the judici- ary in order to ward off his danger to society and its security. This ruling does not contradict the religious freedom that Islam has guaranteed for those who respect religious feelings, social values and public order.


Appealing to Muslim governments to provide basic needs to their Muslim so- cieties, including responsible freedom, food, shelter, medical care, education, job opportunities, and all other needs to immunize new generations against material temptations and all other needs means of promoting anti-Islamic ideas.

Indeed, Allāh is All-Knowing.

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