I didn't want this to be buried in my comments section, so this is an addendum to my first post on this topic, and is response to temporal and alien. Also, alien, I would like to comment on your comment about the verse that came down when Muslims were fighting with their backs against the wall. A religion, revealed or otherwise (to me at least) should be universal and applicable. Putting that verse into the book crystallized it and made it an immutable part of the religion. So, it's not just a historical relic it is religious text. It justifies similar acts in modern times because depending on someone's perspective they can justify that an extreme act is warranted because the situation can be argued to be similar to the time of the said verse.
Now, I am not someone who remembers verses and numbers but I do remember stories and words. And I remember long ago verses and stories from the Quran and Hadith that I read as a child. However, I wanted to quote from the actual text.
Now, there is no specific sentence in the Quran that says death to apostates. However, there are many things that are allowed or forbidden that are not expressly stated in so many words. Stories and/or incidents are used for illustrative purposes. And, of course, the Quran is not the only source for Islamic law and practice. Forget the shariah and the schools of jurisprudence, there is also the Hadith, incidents from the life of the prophet, incidents others relate about what he said or did that are supposed to guide the lives of Muslims. I had to dig around to find the actual places.
So, here goes:
The Quran on Apostasy
During a four month period, and when the haj was going on, immunity was declared against all those fighting against Allah and his messenger. This was in A.H. 9. During these four months they could accept Islam, leave the country (and nothing would hinder their departure), or do neither and stay and be dealt with by the sword. Some of these people were known as the hypocrites, i.e., they had accepted Islam verbally but were still not fully committed to it. In other words they had confessed Islam and then renounced it, which is part of the definition of apostasy. The punishment here was the war waged against the leaders of this kufr or infidelity (9:11-12)
There is some commentary and debate about this next one, though many Islamic scholars believe in the interpretation of one verse from the Cairo edition of the Quran that states, either that all the deeds of an apostate become null and void in this world and the next and he must be killed OR that an apostate should be killed and lose his wife and heritage.
Ibn Fakhri fil Adab as Sultaniya also relates that Abu Bakr killed all of Mecca's apostates after the death of the prophet.
Apostasy in the Hadith
There are quite a few hadiths about this topic. According to Bukhari (volume 9, # 17), the prophet said: The punishment of death is prescribed for murder, adultery and the one who reverts from Islam and leaves the Muslims.
(vol 9, # 57 relates an eye-witness account by Ikrima): Ali burnt some atheists who were brought to him. Hearing this Ibn Abbas said, that the messenger of Allah forbade burning them but that they did deserve death, because the prophet said, whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him."
(vol 9, verse 58) A Jew who became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism was brought in fetters to Abu Musa and Muadh. When told of his crime Muadh said he would not sit until the man was killed. And so the man was.
Imam Malik (Book 016, # 4152)
Zaid b. Aslam reported that the prophet declared that the man who leaves Islam should be executed.
The prophet's life and actions form the basis of conduct for the believing Muslim. So, I present this example. After the taking of Mecca, ten people were ordered to be killed by the prophet, all ten of whom were apostates.
Furthermore, no matter their other disagreements all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence do agree on one thing, that the punishment for apostasy is execution.
However, one of the problems in pinning anything to the Quran or Hadith is that there are so many contradictory verses and events, which really muddy the water. So there are verses in which the prophet actually did nothing about some apostates. Ultimately I believe it comes down to one's own personal beliefs.
Perhapy my fundamental problem is that I expect a book of divine revelation to be consistent and clear, leaving no room for the kind of doubt that either does or does not prescribe death for apostates. In countries with Islamic law, because of the schools of jurisprudence and the hadith and the few verses from the Quran do form the basis for apostasy laws. Since there is nothing expressly forbidding death for apostasy but there is some evidence for harsh punishment for apostasy this law is applied. For all intents and purposes, this is agreed-upon Muslim law.
How a few enlightened people interpret these verses of hadiths in their homes doesn't matter when vast swathes of the Muslim world believe death for apostasy a fair exchange, and it is upheld by law.
P.S. Alien and temporal, I still consider you guys my friends and like the fact we can discuss this topic in a respectful manner. Cheers!