Skip to main content


Murtadd (Arab., ‘one who turns away’, hence ridda). An apostate from Islam. The ultimate punishment for an apostate, according to Qurʾan 3. 86–9/80–3; cf. 2. 161–2/155–6, lies in the next world after death. There are, however, penalties in this world, including restrictions on inheritance and annulment of marriage. In accord with the fundamental principle, ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ (2. 257/6), no physical pressure may be put on those who seek to change their religion, though in practice this happens, even to the extent of death. The penalty of death is not mentioned in the Qurʾan, but comes from a ḥadīth transmitted through al-ʿAbbās, ‘Whoever changes [badala] his religion [dīn], kill him.’ But even here the issue is debated. According to some Muslims, the hadith includes the provision that the one who changes religion must also subsequently attack Islam, so that the death penalty is then an act of jihād, in defence of Islam (see SATANIC VERSES); otherwise, those who are over-zealous are themselves liable to account for their actions on the Day of Judgement (for varying opinions, see J. W. Bowker, What Muslims Believe, 1998, 100–5). It is also a matter of dispute whether a murtadd should be given time to repent or reconvert.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Murtadd." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 24 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Murtadd." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (March 24, 2019).

"Murtadd." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved March 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.