[Parvez Ahmed is the board chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Washington, D.C.]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations calls on the government of Afghanistan to release Abdul Rahman, a man facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Rahman’s conversion is a personal matter that should not be subject to state intervention.

Islamic scholars say original rulings on apostasy were similar to those for treasonous acts in legal systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual’s choice of religion.

Islam advocates freedom of religion and of conscience, a position supported by the Quran:

* “If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?” (10:99)

* “This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.” (18:29)

* “If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their keeper. Your only duty is to convey My message.” (42:48)

* “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (2:256)

Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth.

As the Quran states: “Truth stands out clear from error. Therefore, whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.” (2:256)

We urge the government of Afghanistan to order the immediate release of Abdul Rahman.


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