|Daniel & Meriam|
By Elizabeth Kendal
The Case of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag
Professing Christians, Daniel Wani (a South Sudanese US citizen) and Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag were married in Khartoum, Sudan, in 2012.
In August or September 2013, a man claiming to be Meriam's Muslim brother, lodged a criminal complaint against her in Halat Kuku Court of Khartoum North, claiming that Meriam was a Muslim and therefore illegally cohabiting with a Christian man. Meriam was charged with adultery under article 146 of the Sudan Criminal Code while Daniel was accused of proselytising a Muslim.
While Daniel was found to be innocent of proselytising, Daniel and Meriam's marriage was deemed null and void on the grounds that it is illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man. Meriam (27) was subsequently charged with adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes. When she countered the adultery charge by insisting that she was a Christian, the charge of apostasy was added, and on 17 February the now pregnant Meriam was imprisoned in Omdurman Federal Women's Prison along with her first-born son, Martin Ibrahim (now 20 months).
On 11 May, the court informed Meriam that she would be given three days to recant and return to Islam, warning her that if she failed to comply she would be found guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death by hanging.
At her sentencing on Thursday 15 May, a Muslim cleric asked her again to return to Islam. After Meriam replied, "I am Christian not apostate", the judge sentenced her to death by hanging. According to the Sudan Tribune, "[Meriam] Ibrahim for her part, didn't show any reaction to the judge’s ruling" (i.e. she understood the consequences of her choice and was fully prepared and unsurprised). The 100 lashes for adultery will be delivered once Meriam has recovered from giving birth. The death sentence will be delivered in two years time, after Meriam has finished nursing the infant.
Now 8-months pregnant, Meriam's health has deteriorated in prison, as has Martin's, and Daniel is deeply concerned about the conditions under which she will give birth.
Despite being found innocent of the charge of proselytising, Daniel still stands to lose everything he loves. As he explains: "The revoking of this marriage means that my son is no longer my son and the one coming is not my son too, will not be my son - so this innocence means nothing and I will appeal for myself and I will appeal for my wife."
According to reports, Daniel's appeals to the US Embassy in Khartoum, went unheeded for far too long. He told Al-Jazeera, "Considering I am an American citizen, I am disappointed with the American Embassy's position from the beginning of the whole case. At the start of the issue, I reported it to them but they didn't take much interest, particularly the consulate. They said they didn't have time. In fact last time, they said they didn't care much about the case. They came late - they intervened when they saw the issue was getting press attention - but the intervention was late."
Rattled by the international outcry, Sudanese authorities have opened an escape hatch. Speaking on Radio Omdurman on Friday 16 May, Sudan's parliamentary speaker, al-Fatih Izz Al-Din, downplayed the ruling, noting that the death sentence was a preliminary ruling which could be appealed in the various stages of the judicial process. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abu-Bakr Al-Sideeg assured Reuters that Sudan is committed to human rights and religious freedom.
Eut even if Meriam is acquitted on appeal or released on compassionate grounds, this family will remain gravely imperilled, at risk of Islamists prepared to take the law into their own hands, sparing no effort to ensure Islam and Sharia are not mocked. This family needs to be rescued from Sudan.
Khartoum's rulings are totally consistent with Islam
Islam is a political and material religion, advancing political goals (the imposition of Sharia, the constitution of Islam) and promising material rewards (as the call to prayer states, twice: "hasten to success"). Ultimately everyone will submit to Islam and Sharia, either willing or by compulsion / force. "And to Allah prostrates whoever is within the heavens and the earth, willingly or by compulsion, and their shadows [as well] in the mornings and the afternoons." (Qur'an, Sura 13:15) As such, Islam knows no separation of religion and politics. Islam is a political religion.
According to the Qur'an, fitna -- that is anything that "averts people from the way of Allah"; anything that "causes disbelief" and therefore chaos -- is to be regarded as the greatest of all evils. Fitna is worse than killing (i.e. killing is the lesser of the two evils) -- and fitna must be purged (Sura 2:217). Be assured, nothing generates fitna like the presence of joyful, thriving apostates. Furthermore, apostasy is regarded as a betrayal of the Muslim nation akin to treason. According to Islam and Sharia, the penalty for apostasy is death. This is backed up by the famous Hadith (saying of Muhammad): "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him" (Sahih Bukhari vol 9, book 84, number 57).
Concerning Men: All schools of Sharia (Islamic law) agree that an adult male convicted of apostasy must be killed (unless he is not of sound mind), and that boys convicted of apostasy must be imprisoned until they are of age and then, if they persist in their apostasy, they must be killed.
Concerning Women: Three of the four main Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence -- the Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i schools -- teach that women apostates must likewise be executed. Only the Hanafi (from Kufa, Sth Iraq) and Shia schools teach that women apostates should be imprisoned until they recant. [This is essentially because they view women as so insignificant that they are actually incapable of generating fitna, and therefore do not require elimination.]
Sudanese Islamic jurisprudence follows the Shafi'i school.
Generally, scholars interpret Sura 4:137 as grounds for a Muslim having three chances or three days to repent / recant before forgiveness is denied.
For an excellent study on apostasy in Islam, see:
Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam
BY Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (published Dec 2013)
Unlike Christianity, where religious identity is a matter of personal faith, in Islam, religious identity is a political matter, a matter for the Islamic state or nation.
In Islam, a child inherits their religion from their father and is registered as such from birth. Consequently, Muslim men are free to marry Christian women; in fact in some quarters, Muslim men are actually encouraged to marry Christians -- sometimes they are even financially rewarded for marrying Christian women -- for this not only removes child-bearers from the Christian community, it also ensures the children of Christian women are deemed Muslim from birth.
Conversely, Islamic law bans Muslim women from marrying Christian men. Any Christian man who wants to marry a Muslim woman must first convert to Islam to ensure her children are born Muslim.
When a Muslim parent abandons Islam, they automatically lose custody of their children because it is imperative that the children be raised Muslim.
When a nominal-Christian father converts to Islam in order to take a Muslim woman as a second wife, his Christian children are deemed and registered Muslim upon his conversion. From that point, his forcibly converted daughters are obliged by law to marry Muslim men and bear Muslim children, while his forcibly converted sons, even though free to marry Christian women, will produce Muslim children that must be raised as Muslims following Islam and Sharia.
Add to all this, the fact that Muslims are captives for whom leaving is forbidden upon penalty of death, and you have a truly brilliant (albeit insidious) strategy for permanent exponential growth of the Muslim community; growth that is guaranteed not only at the expense of other religious communities, but even in the virtual absence of religious conversions.
Clearly, anyone who says the rulings in Khartoum are a "blatant violation . . . of Islam and Sharia" (WEA RLC, 16 May) is either misinformed or is seeking to misinform.
"Most Muslims believe the Qur'an is about justice, which is also the purpose of Sharia," says WEA RLC's Godfrey Yogarajah.
Well, maybe it's time for "most Muslims" to wake up! Doubtless there are just as many Qur'anically illiterate Muslims who have no idea what Allah demands, as there are Biblically illiterate Christians who have no idea what the God of the Bible demands. There is a lot of ignorance, fantasy and wishful thinking all around.
Islam underpins not only these rulings out of Khartoum, but much Islamic violence, much Islamic repression and many thousands of honour killings committed annually along with the impunity afforded the perpetrators.
According to Islam and Sharia (as distinct from individual Muslims), Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag is a Muslim because she was born to a Muslim father. According to Islam and Sharia, Daniel Wani should have converted to Islam before marrying Meriam in 2012. Had Daniel complied, submitting to Sharia, then the marriage would have been legal, the children would be Muslim, and Muslims and the state would be happy. While Daniel may have failed in his responsibilities according to Islam and Sharia, the Islamic state will ensure that wrongs will be set right by denying Daniel custody of his own children and ensuring they are raised as Muslims.
Let the debate begin
Some sources are at pains to point out that Meriam was raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian Christian mother, making the ruling unfair and unjust as she never apostasised because she was never a believing Muslim. Others say Meriam was raised Muslim by a Muslim mother from a Muslim tribe and that she disappeared for several years before turning up again professing Christ and married to a Christian man.
The details however are totally irrelevant and must not be allowed to become a distraction. Every human being -- no matter how or where they were raised and irrespective of their occupation or status -- must be free to seek after God.
The debate must be about Islam's total lack of liberty, its inherent inhumanity and its gross unreasonableness in suggesting that a good God would compel people to worship and serve him against their heart and conscience.
for suggest prayer points: see
SUDAN: Christian woman faces death for apostasy
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 261 | Wed 21 May 2014
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)