Dr. Hatem al-Haj, a senior committee member for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), confirmed in the below fatwa from July 2011 that the Islamic punishment for apostasy is death. A couple of things stand out to me about this fatwa.
First, this fatwa was taken down from AMJA’s website as far back as October 2011, along with other fatwas on the same topic, possibly in response to an article written by my colleague Andrew Bostom exposing the rulings in that same month. (See the fatwa on archive.org, while the link on AMJA’s website is broken.) So either AMJA changed their minds about the penalty for apostasy; or, more likely, they just don’t want non-Muslims seeing what they really think on controversial topics. If that’s the case, then what else are they not telling us?
Second, the question that leads to the fatwa is tellingly not asking what the ruling is on apostasy, but rather how to explain this ruling to others, including non-Muslims. While Dr. al-Haj confirms that the penalty for apostasy from Islam is death, he also recommends that when explaining this to others, you should start with the caveat that this is something which should only be carried out in a Muslim country through the court system.
AMJA likes to hide behind that caveat, but at the same time they encourage Muslims in the United States to use the American legal system in order to establish Islamic law (see here and here). So isn’t it fair to assume that Dr. al-Haj and AMJA would like to eventually make death for apostates the law of the land here in the United States as well?
See my translation of Dr. al-Haj’s fatwa below (see the original Arabic on his website):
Read it all.