If a person exits the religion of Islam and becomes a murtad (apostate), and becomes a Muslim again, what will happen to his previous deeds?
Submitted by on Fri, 23/01/2015 - 10:22
Dear Brother / Sister,
"…And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein."(al-Baqara, 2/217)
A Muslim who denies Islam and accepts another religion or irreligion is called a murtad (apostate). A person with a belief whose distinctive characteristic is shirk, that is, "associating partners with Allah and associating the attributes and deeds that are peculiar to Him to others" is called a mushrik (polytheist). They are munafiqs (hypocrites) who are unbelievers in their hearts but Muslims in appearance. The term kafir (unbeliever) has a wider meaning than these three terms, expressing all of those with beliefs that are contrary to the true religion and that make people exit the true religion.
According to many verses, these beliefs of all unbelievers (mushrik, munafiq, murtad) eliminate the religious results of the good deeds they do in the world, preventing them from benefitting from those good deeds as thawabs, ajrs (rewards), sustenance and capital of the hereafter. (al-Maida 5/5; al-An'am 6/88; at-Tawba 9/17,69) Unbelievers are deprived of the rights and relationships that are peculiar to Muslims like brotherhood, being guardians of one another, shares from booty, permissibility of marriage; in addition, they go to Hell in the hereafter and stay there forever.
Are the rewards obtained by a person when he was a Muslim going to be evaluated again or are they going to be of no use when he exits the true religion and becomes a Muslim again because they were removed due to his denial?
According to the verse we have quoted at the beginning, if a murtad dies as an unbeliever, all of his deeds are eliminated; if he gives up denial and becomes a Muslim again, his deeds will not be useless. In other verses regarding the issue, the elimination of the deeds in case of exiting Islam is not dependent on dying in that state. (al-Maida 5/5; al-An'am 6/88; az-Zumar 39/65)
The mujtahids and tafsir scholars who evaluated those verses together and interpreted them differently came to different conclusions. According to Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik, the deeds of the people who exit the true religion are eliminated; if a person made a vow before he exited Islam, he does not have to fulfill it; if he performed hajj, he has to perform it again after he is converted to Islam again. According to Imam Shafii, who takes the condition in this verse into account and interprets the other verses accordingly, when a murtad becomes a Muslim again, his previous deeds return with him; they are not eliminated.
The evidences of both views are as follows:
According to Hanafis and Malikis, when a Muslim becomes a murtad, all of his deeds are eliminated. He has to perform the prayers, fast, hajj, zakah that he performed before exiting Islam again after he is converted to Islam. (Badaiu’s-Sanai, 1/292; al-Bahru’r-Raiq 5/137; al-Hurashi, 8/68) For, Allah states the following in the Quran:
"If anyone rejects faith, fruitless is his work." (al-Maida, 5/5)
"If thou wert to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will be thy work (in life)." (az-Zumar, 39/65)
"If they were to join other gods with Him, all that they did would be vain for them." (al-Anam, 6/88)
- According to Shafiis and Hanbalis, a person's deeds he performed as a Muslim are not eliminated unless he dies as a murtad. (Nawawi, al-Majmu’ Sharh-ul Muhazzab 3/5-6; al-Insaf 1/392)
"And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein."(al-Baqara, 2/217)
If a person's deeds he did as a Muslim were eliminated, the phrase "and die in unbelief" in the verse would be meaningless. Accordingly, his deeds are eliminated if he dies as a murtad. If he becomes a Muslim again before he dies, his deeds are restored.
If a person who exits Islam becomes a Muslim again, he does not have to perform the worships he performed before. However, if he is rich, he has to perform hajj again. According to the majority of the scholars, the rewards he obtained before exiting Islam are not eliminated when he becomes a Muslim again; they are returned to him.
Besides, those who exit Islam are held responsible for violating the rights of Allah and other people. A murtad has to perform the religious duties like fard prayers and fasting that he abandoned when he was a Muslim after becoming a Muslim again. For, it is a sin to abandon them. The sin continues after he exits the religion of Islam. Therefore, he needs to try to get rid of his previous sins. (see Ö. Nasuhi Bilmen, Hukûkî İslâmiyye ve İstilâhât-ı Fıkhıyye Kamusu, VI/5-30)
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