On the 28th of March 2006, Tuesday, I saw in BBC WORLD the news of release of one Abdul Rahiman from the Afghan jail. I followed the story in the website of BBC. "Abdul Rahman was charged with rejecting Islam but his case was dismissed after he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, officials said."
Abdul Rahman converted to Christianity some 18 years back. He was imprisoned, tried and sentenced to death. The BBC news published opinions of Islamic scholars who argued that there is no Qur'anic verse or reliable Hadith (Tradition) prescribing death to those Muslims who left Islamic Faith and embraced some other faith or became atheists. But the fact remains that the Shari'a court in Ahghanistan sentenced a person who converted from Islam to Christianity to death. Thanks to the intervention of NATO which now occupies Afghanistan, the Christian convert was set free from the gallows on the plea of insanity. But many hundreds of thousands of believers rallied to protest his release. Even if all the news channels of the world and print media brought forth opinions of Islamic scholars who are moderate against the death sentence, a murthadd (a Muslim who relinquishes Islamic faith) would be sentenced to death. A person who caricatures or draws or describes Prophet, if such a piece is interpreted as derogatory, the person who produced it will be sentenced to death. Prophet Muhammad himself, after the bloodless conquest of Mecca, put to death a poet who ridiculed the Messenger of Allah through verses, and thus death to those who ridicule the Prophet became the rule.
If the Muslims want to change, the believers have to get rid of the tribal culture of the Arabian Peninsula of the 7th Century. They have to take a stand that whatever Prophet Muhammad said and did was in the historical context. They can of course believe that Muhammad was really the Messenger of Allah, the Almighty. But one has to accept the historical fact that the Prophet lived in the last quarter of the sixth and the first quarter of the 7th Century of Common Era. His deeds and sayings have to be taken into consideration in the historical context. Unless and until the Muslims take this stand they cannot come out of the 7th Century's tribal culture.