Conversion to Islam Under Sharia– A One Way Street

"You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

                       The Eagles, Hotel California

Lionel Beehner, staff writer for the Council on Foreign Relations , sheds light on the tension that exists within Islamic Law, or Sharia, on the subject of religious conversion.  In short, while anyone is welcome to convert to Islam from another religion, conversion out of Islam is not only not allowed, but attempts to do so have been determined to be punishable by death.

In explaining why Sharia finds that conversion to Islam is irrevocable, Beehner quotes Nathan Brown, an expert on Islamic law at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

"The trouble in much of the Muslim world … is that religious conversion does not just define one’s personal religious beliefs but also one’s legal category.  ‘It’s like saying you used to be Canadian and now you’re Mexican. . . It’s taken to be socially breaking your bond with your community and betraying one for another.’ "

The full article, Religious Conversion and Sharia Law, is worth reading.

According to the article, experts estimate that thousands of Western Muslims convert to Christianity every year, but the path to conversion is dangerous and kept very quiet.  I find it hard to embrace binary approaches to most things, and religious determinism of this type does not support the emergence of pluralistic societies.    

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