Tag Archives: Islamic criminal jurisprudence

Definition of murtadd

There has been differences of opinion on the English lexical meaning of “apostasy” and apostate” as well as the Arabic equivalents. We will use the English words on the bases given by their definitions in Webster’s, together with the Arabic lexical and legal definitions for the words “murtadd” and “irtidad”.

From Webster’s New World Dictionary & Thesaurus:

apostate: a-pos-tate n. a person guilty of apostasy; renegade adj. guilty of apostasy n. — Syn. renegade, one of little faith, backslider, defector; see deserter, traitor. See heretic, heretical, impious, rebel, recreant, scab, skeptic, turncoat

apostasy: a-pos-ta-sy n., pl. -sies an abandoning of what one has believed in, as a faith, cause, or principles See defection, desertion, disloyalty, heresy

Are the semantic equivalents of apostate and apostasy also found in the Arabic words murtadd and irtidad which respectively correspond to them?

The words apostate and apostasy can be equally translated into Arabic respectively as kafir or murtadd, and as kufr or irtidad.


Irtidad is an open rending from within of the fabric of Muslim society which is responsible for repairing it immediately, just as it must repair and counter the harm of depravity. As defined by the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — irtidad is a declaration of war against Muslim society from inside it. This is confirmed by the fact that irtidad is a public act bearing on all of one’s social and private contracts, not a private exploration conducted in a philosophical vacuum.

And only Allah knows best.

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