Islamic scholars say the 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 both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, a position supported by verses in the Quran, Islam's revealed text, such as:
1) "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)
2) "(O Prophet) proclaim: 'This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.'" (18:29)
3) "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)
4) "Let there be no compulsion in religion." (2:256)
Religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. 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 therefore urge the government of Afghanistan to order the immediate release of Mr. Abdul Rahman.
Update: Charges in an Afghan court against Mr. Abdul Rahman have since been dropped.