Is it lawful to shed the blood of someone who insults the Prophet Muhammad? Does the Qu'ran stipulate a worldly punishment for apostates? This book tells the gripping story of Rāfiq Taqī, an Azerbaijani journalist and writer, who was condemned to death by an Iranian cleric for a blasphemous news article in 2006.
Delving into the Qu'ran and Hadith - the most sacred sources for all Muslims - Mohsen Kadivar explores the subject of blasphemy and apostasy from the perspective of Shi'a jurisprudence to articulate a polarisation between secularism and extremist religious orthodoxy. In a series of online exchanges, he debates the case with Muhammad Jawad Fazel, the son of Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarānī who issued the fatwa pronouncing death penalty on Taqī. While disapproving of the journalist's writings, Kadivar takes a defensive stance against vigilante murders and asks whether death for apostasy reflects the true spirit of Islam.
Mohsen Kadivar is Research Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University. One of the most original and prolific figures of the Iranian reform movement, he is a versatile theologian, philosopher and intellectual historian who has written ground-breaking books on human rights and Islam, Islamic political thought, and Islamic philosophy and theology. His forthcoming 'Islamic Theocracy in the Secular Age' will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2021. Kadivar has been a vocal critic of Iran's doctrine of clerical rule and a strong advocate of democratic and liberal reforms in Iran as well as constructional reform in shari'a and Shi'a theology. He has served time in prison in Iran for his political activism and beliefs; his writings have been banned in Iran since 2009. Hamid Mavani is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School and author of Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi'ism: From Ali to Post Khomeini (Routledge, 2013) and co-author, with Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi, of Islamic Legal Methodology: A New Perspective (forthcoming in 2020).