He says it does not mean that Muslims can renounce their religion.
PETALING JAYA: The Quranic verse that prohibits compulsion in religion applies only to people who have not yet accepted Islam, according to former International Islamic University (UIA) professor Abdul Aziz Bari.
Commenting on a remark made two days ago by Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, he said the true meaning of Verse 256 of Surah al-Baqarah was that Muslims were prohibited from coercing others to embrace Islam.
Nurul Izzah made the remark in reply to a question from an audience at forum on the Islamic state on Saturday.
“How can anyone say (freedom of religion) only applies to non-Muslims?” she was reported as saying. “It has to be applied equally.”
She added, however, that she was tied to “prevailing views” on the issue.
Aziz, an expert on constitutional law, said the verse in question did not mean that a Muslim could renounce his faith. “If this is the case, then what is the point of the ruling that says renouncing Islam is a big sin?” he said.
He said one needed to set a context in which to discuss freedom of religion because of the vastness of the topic.
If it were to be discussed in the context of personal liberty, then there would be certain limitations to Muslims, he added.
Nurul Izzah’s remark has landed her in hot soup, especially with Umno.
The Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia today featured the remark on its front page, and several leaders of the party have accused her of supporting apostasy.
Despite her clarification in a blog posting that she did not condone apostasy, the PKR vice president was mocked and criticised by Umno MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Deputy Minister of Higher Education Saifuddin Abdullah on Twitter.