Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, discussed the laws pertaining to apostasy, and said that if it constitutes a "danger to society," it carries a death sentence. In a daily show aired on several Egyptian TV channels and posted on the official YouTube channel of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Al-Tayyeb said: "The four schools of law all concur that apostasy is a crime, that an apostate should be asked to repent, and that if he does not, he should be killed." He further said that "the concepts of human rights are full of ticking time-bombs" and that in Muslim society, sexual liberty and homosexuality are diseases. "No Muslim society could ever consider sexual liberty, homosexuality, and so on to be a personal right." The video was posted on the official Al-Azhar Youtube channel on June 16.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: "If apostasy comes in the form of a crime, transgression, or high treason, it is only natural that it will be treated as a crime that must be fought, and must carry a certain punishment. But if apostasy does not constitute a danger or crime against society, I believe that society does not need to deal with this issue. We should be aware that the concepts of human rights are full of ticking time bombs. My opinion was - and I said this [in the West] - that no Muslim society could ever consider sexual liberty, homosexuality and so on to be a personal right. Muslim societies consider these things to be diseases, which must be fought and treated."
Interviewer: "Protection of lineage is a main goal in Islam."
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: "And protection of moral values too. The problem is that the [Islamic and Western] civilizations are different. Our civilization is based on religion and moral values, whereas their civilization is based more on personal liberties and some moral values."
"As I said, if an apostate has left Islam out of hatred toward it, and with the purpose of acting against it - this is considered high treason, because this is a Muslim society, which has had Islam for 1,400 years and other religions for over 5,000 years. One does not have the right to... In this case, apostasy is a rebellion against society. It is a rebellion both against religion and what is held sacrosanct by society."
Interviewer: "What is the punishment of an apostate?"
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: "[Contemporary] jurisprudents concur - and so does ancient jurisprudence - that apostasy is a crime."
Interviewer: "All jurisprudents agree with this?"
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: "You could say that all jurisprudents agree. A very few [dissent], but you could say that everybody agrees."
Interviewer: "More or less everybody?"
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: "The four schools of law all concur that apostasy is a crime, and that an apostate should be asked to repent, and that if he does not he should be killed."
"There are two verses in the Quran that clearly mention apostasy, but they did not define a specific punishment. They left the punishment for the Hereafter, for Allah to punish them as He sees fit. But there are two hadiths [on apostasy]. According to the more reliable of the two, a Muslim can only be killed in one of three cases, one of which is abandoning his religion and leaving the community. We must examine these two expressions: 'Abandoning religion' is described as 'leaving the community.' All the early jurisprudents understood that this applies to someone who leaves his religion, regardless of whether he left and opposed his community or not. All the early jurisprudents said that such a person should be killed, regardless of whether it is a man or a woman - with the exception of the Hanafi School, which is said that a female apostate should not be killed."
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: "Because it is inconceivable that a woman would rebel against her community. This underscores the fact that apostasy should be punished by death only if the apostate constitutes a danger to society."