From the BBC on Line - Commentary is mine.
It is obvious to Muslims familiar with the Quran that the death penalty for apostasy is not rooted in the Quran. Different Prophetic sayings were interpreted by many scholars as using the Death penalty if acts of treason were associated with the conversion from Islam, rather than as a punishment for apostasy itself. I was very happy to come across this article on the BBC web site presenting this topic in a very balanced and informative manner, especially to non-Muslims.
"Last week, British teacher Daud Hassan Ali, 64, was shot dead in Somalia. His widow, Margaret Ali, said her husband was targeted by Islamists who 'believe it is ok to kill any man who was born into Islam and left the faith'."Whether the 'Islamists' really killed him for that reason of not is open to debate, especially in such a lawless country as Somalia. But I am aware that many Muslims really think that capital punishment is what Islamic law has for apostates. And according to the article, many British Muslims still think it is the Islamic law.
"A poll conducted by the Policy Exchange last year suggested that over a third of young British Muslims believe that the death penalty should apply for apostasy."
"I was staggered to learn that the Quran does not say anything about punishing apostates and that its proponents use two hadiths instead to support their view. Hadiths are the recorded traditions and sayings of the Prophet which, in addition to the Quran, provide an additional source of Islamic law.
The hadiths which relate to apostasy are linguistically ambiguous and open to interpretation. Distinguished scholars told me that the hadiths actually speak about a death penalty for treason, not apostasy. And even then, they stressed the punishment is discretionary."
"I believe the classical law of apostasy in Islam is wrong and based on a misunderstanding of the original sources, because the Quran and Hadith don't actually talk about a death penalty for apostasy."This is supported by the recent statement along the same lines by the highest Edict authority in Al-Azhar (Cairo Egypt)
"Last year Egypt's Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, unequivocally told the Washington Post that the death penalty for apostasy simply no longer applies. It provoked a flurry of debate in Egypt and the wider Middle East."The author then introduces a brief analysis of the political dimension of Muslim's attitudes towards apostasy
"Muslim attitudes towards apostasy are a metaphor for the wider struggle taking place within Islam, between those who argue for a progressive form of Islam and those who argue for more dogmatic interpretations.Overall, a very well written and informative article.
Attitudes to apostasy may be a useful barometer for judging where it's headed."
Read the full article on the BBC, click on the link below.