The Arabic words irtidad and ridda apply to the occurrence of the aforementioned situation. In addition, ridda has been used in the term “war of the Ridda” by the historians to denote the war in early Islam against the Arab tribes who withheld the remittance of the alms-tax to the State and whom the State fought but without declaring them disbelievers.
The public dimension is essential for irtidad to take place. When one succeeds in keeping the matter to oneself, as in the spiritually disintegrated mass of Western societies, then irtidad has not been verified and one is not considered a murtadd although he has become an unbeliever — may Allah protect us.
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Dr. Zakir Naik replies on the issue of forbidding of propagation of other religions than Islam and apostasy (abandonment or renunciation of one’s religion) in Islam. He also highlights about death penalty for apostasy in Islam.
Does Islam respect the right of someone not to believe in God or is Islam an intolerant religion? Shaykh Yasir Qadhi answers the tough questions.
As for one who professes and observes Islam but harbours unbelief without publicly declaring it is not a murtadd, but a munafiq or dissimulator.
The munafiq is not a kafir in the eyes of the Law and must be treated as a Muslim up to and including burial rites and inheritance status, while the murtadd is a kafir in the eyes of the Law and is subject to the penal law (hadd) that applies to the murtadd as enforced only by the Islamic state.
It is forbidden for individuals to enforce any penal law or act of war whatsoever whether in the presence or in the absence of an Islamic state except by lawful mandate, but the latter can be de facto, as in the case of a people’s legitimate defense against aggression.
One who professes Islam without observing its obligations and prohibitions nor harboring unbelief is neither a murtadd nor a munafiq nor a kafir but a fasiq or depraved person — may Allah guide us and you.