Persecution of the Saints

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim

By Kersley Fitzgerald

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Meriam Ibrahim's Apostasy

But the law begs the question, was Meriam Ibrahim ever Muslim? According to Islam, "Islam shall prevail." It means that Islam is the dominant religion of the world; Allah intended everyone to be Muslim, and all babies are born Muslim. Therefore, every child born with one Muslim parent is Muslim. After puberty, if the child chooses to abandon Islam, they are an apostate. So, Meriam is not considered a Muslim because her father, as opposed to her mother, was Muslim — she would be considered a Muslim if either parent was. And, therefore, her children are considered Muslim and should not be remanded to the custody of their Christian father.

How did Meriam get here? When Meriam was six years old, her Muslim father left her and her Ethiopian Orthodox mother. They moved to Khartoum for work and school. Meriam eventually graduated from the Khartoum University School of Medicine. Daniel Wani is also Sudanese, but became a US citizen in 2005. He has a biochemical engineering degree and suffers from muscular dystrophy. Daniel and Meriam met in church while he was visiting Sudan and married in 2012. Since that time, he has been trying to bring Meriam to the US.

It's believed that a relative of Meriam's opened a case against Daniel in Halat Kuku Court of Khartoum North. He was charged with adultery, since a marriage between a Muslim and a Christian isn't recognized. Authorities took his passport and forbade him to travel. Meriam was charged with adultery on February 17th, and taken to Omdurman Federal Women's Prison. Since the marriage is void, they are technically single, and the punishment for non-adulterous fornication is 100-lashes each. The charge of apostasy was added later and is punishable by death according to Article 146 of the 1991 Criminal Code. According to Islam, showing her marriage certificate, which lists her as Christian, and insisting that her father left means nothing; he was Muslim, so under the law, she was Muslim. If she is now Christian, then she is apostate. And according to the law, she should be executed.

God's Hands

Is there hope for Meriam Ibrahim? Not of this world. Any Christian influence in Sudan left with the South's 2011 secession. Months before Meriam's accusation, the chairman of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, Ammar Saleh, condemned the government for being lax with apostasy charges, saying they needed to "stand against Christianisation and come up with a long term solution to the problem." Al-Bashir's regime is not lenient. South Sudan fought for independence for decades before it was granted in 2011. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be charged by The Hague International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. His war in the western Darfur region has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and displaced millions. His army bombs Christian hospitals, and his mercenaries, the Janjaweed, murder and rape their way across Darfur. The war has been going on for eleven years, despite continued involvement of African Union and UN forces and diplomats. And Darfur is predominantly Muslim and partially Arabic; there is no religious and little ethnic tension behind the war.

One Christian woman isn't going to concern him, no matter what international pressures appear.

Meriam gave birth to her daughter in prison. There is precedence in the Hadith to wait until a child is weaned before executing the mother. Muslim scholars have been visiting her, trying to convince her to revert to Islam and be forgiven. So far, Meriam has refused. "If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I'm not going to change my faith," she told her husband. She will not "pretend to be a Muslim" to save her life. She has about two years.

* The penal laws of Islam are called Hudud in the Hadith and Fiqh. This word is the plural of Hadd, which means prevention, hindrance, restraint, prohibition, and hence a restrictive ordinance or statute of God, respecting things lawful and unlawful.

Punishments are divided into two classes, one of which is called Hadd and the other Ta'zir. The Hadd is a measure of punishment defined by the Qur'an and the Sunnah. In Ta'zir, the court, is allowed to use its discretion in regard to the form and measure in which such punishment is to be inflicted.

Punishments by way of Hadd are of the following forms: death by stoning, amputation of a limb or limbs, flogging by one hundred or eighty strokes. They are prescribed respectively for the following offences: adultery committed by married persons, theft, highway robbery, drunkenness, and slander imputing unchastity to women.

The punishments described above are the maximum punishments for the above mentioned crimes. These can be reduced keeping in view the circumstances in which the crimes were committed, the nature of the evidence, and the motive of the criminal with which he committed the crime.

Center for Muslim Jewish Engagement; Kital-al Hudud

** Shades of the earlier British law.

Much of the information in this article is from Wikipedia and National Geographic. Mistakes are the author's.

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Published 5-30-2014