A Short Response to “More Than A Dream – Life With Jesus Christ” by Muhammad Al-Hallaaj
By “Quran and Bible Blog” Contributor Peter Cunliffe
Note: This article has been reblogged from brother Peter’s blog with slight modifications. I have also added endnotes where further clarification may have been needed.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“More than a Dream: Life with Jesus Christ” is a novel written by Muhammad al-Hallaaj, and recounts his decision to convert from Islaam to Christianity. A good Christian friend lent it to me and asked me to read it. I am very glad I did. The following is a short commentary on the book.
Al-Hallaaj was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He wrote that his peers and religious leaders urged him to distrust Christians, and taught that killing Jews is allowed and in fact mandated by Islaam. At a certain point in his life, Al-Hallaaj left Shia Islaam and became a Sunni. He wrote that, with some exceptions, the teachings are mostly the same. He said he was not allowed to ask questions about what is in the Quran, and if he did so, he would be called “a Zionist or a Jew or an infidel” (p. 12). He eventually stopped believing in God. He went to Jordan in 1999 where he met a Christian friend, and eventually began attending his evangelical church. He says it is there that he began reading the Bible, which he claimed was forbidden for Muslims to do so he had to read it in secret. He said he didn’t believe Jesus (peace be upon him) was God, until one night when he was praying. Al-Hallaaj believed that he felt Jesus touching him (p. 34). Due to this alleged experience, he converted to Christianity.
After his conversion, he began to evangelize to Muslims. He claimed he was visited by three Shia militants who tried to behead him but were stopped by angels, and also that he was locked up by Jordanian police and threatened in an unsuccessful effort to make him recant his faith. He then went to Iraq, where he feared an Al-Qaeda attack, but again was saved by what he believed was supernatural protection (in this case, it was allegedly provided in the form of American military vehicles) (p. 63).
The last section in the book is about his friend Odai, also from Iraq, who also became a Christian after he was miraculously healed by someone he believed was Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) (p. 88). According to Odai, his Shia friends claimed he was healed by Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), and his Sunni friends claimed he was healed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Odai then told them that in fact, he was cured neither by Muhammad (peace be upon him) or Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), but by Jesus (peace be upon him). After he told them this, he was kidnapped by a Muslim extremist group who threatened to murder him with an electric drill (p. 89), and his family disowned him. One of Odai’s friends, however, bought the kidnappers off with $400, and helped him flee the country.
Analysis and Commentary
The book was a very short and interesting read, and in my opinion well-written. According to what Al-Hallaaj wrote, he certainly was very blessed to have escaped death several times, and has been a victim of religious persecution. I cannot vouch for or against the accuracy of his description of the things that happened to him, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume everything he has written of his experiences is true.
First of all, I would like to begin by stating that I have great respect for his courage. It takes bravery to stand up for what one believes in, especially when the risks possibly involve physical harm, and even death. It is terrible and shameful to me as a Muslim, that some Muslims can be so cruel to people who leave the faith, and so full of hatred towards Jews and Christians. This goes contrary to Islaam. The miracles he described, if they happened as he said, are very impressive and show that God wanted to keep him alive.
However, I found some gross mischaracterizations throughout the his book about what Islaam actually teaches, and this short review will be focused on discussing these and providing what to the best of my knowledge is the correct evaluation of what my faith teaches on the issues he touched on. May Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) forgive me if I make any mistakes in that regard. Everything I write that is true is from Him, and any errors are from me.
I do not know whether or not Muhammad Al-Hallaaj presented these misunderstandings purposefully, or whether he got these misconceptions from his environment and assumed they were an accurate portrayal of the Islamic faith. Like many Christians and people of other religions, it seems from his book that he was raised in a culture that practices religion differently from what the religion itself actually teaches. I am going to discuss some of the issues he raised, though there are others I did not have time to address, and I encourage other Muslims to read the book and do so. As a Muslim, I will not be dishonest and attempt to hide the fact that I am approaching it with a bias. As a Muslim, I do believe that Islaam is the only true religion. I believe that those aspects of Christianity and other faiths that agree with Islaam are true, and that those aspects which disagree with Islaam are false. I believe Mr. Al-Hallaaj made a grave mistake in his decision to leave Islaam and adopt Christianity, and I hope that he one day turns back to what I believe is the only true faith.
I do, however, hope that I have correctly represented Mr. Al-Hallaaj’s words, and if I made any errors either in reviewing his book or my explanation of the Islamic issues he raised or my comments on some aspects of Christian history, I welcome, and in fact, ask for corrections and critique.
I am not really that aware of Shia beliefs, so I cannot comment on what the author wrote about their theology, including his statement that they are always obliged to obey their Imams. I can say there is nothing in the Quran about unquestioning obedience to anyone other than God and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who was getting revelation from Him. On page 6 of the book, Al-Hallaaj claims that “it is an obligation for Muslims to kill Jews”. This is a false statement. Muslims are allowed to go to war only with people who are physically attacking us. The Quran states states very clearly:
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.”
Attacking Jews—or anyone else—who isn’t trying to harm Muslims, is a sin. Linked below is a good article about war in the Quran, though it is from a “Quran-only” perspective, and some of the limits specified. I do not accept the view, promoted by the authors of this website, that all the ahadith are invented falsehoods. The Quranist-Sunni debate is a quite energetic, and at times amusing and even exasperating, one. However, it is beyond the scope of this article. Nonetheless, the website’s authors explain very well what the Quran teaches about the defensive nature of warfare, and why aggression is against what Islaam teaches.
Al-Hallaaj also wrote that Muslims believe Christians are second-class citizens, and cannot take them as friends (p. 18). This most definitely is not true. There is nothing in the Quran about treating Christians or Jews worse than Muslims, or that they are a lower class. Surah At-Tawbah , 9:29, talks about defeated Christians and Jews paying a tax called “Jizyah” to the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, given the fact that Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:190, clearly stipulates that aggression cannot be started, it was levied against them after they attacked first.
In the 7th century, the Byzantine Empire controlled parts of Arabia, and they took very high taxes from the Arabs, whom they saw as inferior and did nothing to help but demanded money from them. Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, saw the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a threat, and tried to crush the early Muslims. During that same time, the pagans were also trying to wipe them out since they refused to worship their gods. Some Jewish tribes joined them. The early Muslims fought these specific groups of people, and imposed Jizyah on those among them who were monotheists (i.e. the Christians and Jews). Surah At-Tawba, 9:29, specifically does not apply to all Jews and Christians, but it applies to only those who went to war with the Muslims.
The Jizyah payment wasn’t higher than the taxes early Muslims had to pay, and in return for the Jizyah, the Jews and Christians not only were protected by the state but had no obligation to send their men to fight in the army.
The verse about Muslims not being allowed to take Christians and Jews as friends was also specific to those who were fighting the early Muslims:
“As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers!”
In the Quran, Muslim men are allowed to marry Christian and Jewish women. If being friends with them wasn’t allowed, marriage would be impossible. There are also many verses in the Quran that speak of good Christians and Jews. Yes, they are spoken negatively of in some parts, but also positively in others.
On page 18, the author wrote that:
“Islam was created by a few leaders who used force to spread their ideas. People had no real choice: either become Muslims or be killed…”
Again, that is false. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did wage wars, all of which were defensive. I understand that the Gospels teach pacifism, and I think that Christians who are pacifists (i.e., those opposed to violence in all circumstances), including self-defense, can legitimately criticize Islam and Muslims on this. Our faith isn’t pacifist, but it most definitely also isn’t one where we are allowed to attack innocent people who are not harming us. Surah Al Baqarah, 2:256, states:
“[t]here shall be no compulsion in religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”
In addition, in Surah Yunus, 10:99-100, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) makes it clear to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that it is not his place to compel anyone to believe in Islaam:
“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed – all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers? And it is not for a soul to believe except by permission of Allah, and He will place defilement upon those who will not use reason.”
In other words, people are free to accept Islaam, but it has to be their choice. The Quran states, and I believe not only because it says so but also from my personal experience, that the truth is clear if one take the time to really explore both Islaam and its alternatives like Christianity or Judaism or any other religion or no religion.
If someone studies Muslim history, he or she will see that the early leaders—the first 4 caliphs, who were at war with the Byzantines and Persians—conquered many of their formerly controlled territories, like Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iran, etc. The Christians and Jews in these lands paid the jizya tax, but were not hindered in any way from worshiping in their churches and synagogues and were allowed to rule over their own communities. Egypt was conquered by the early Muslims in 644 CE, some 12 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As conquerors, Muslims remained a minority in Egypt for the first several centuries of Muslim Arab rule, hardly an indication of “convert or die”. For the first 67 years, there is no record of Christians or Jews being mistreated or discriminated against. The first account I am aware of came under Umar II who forbade them from building new churches, forced them to wear distinctive clothing, and humiliated them. That was utterly disgusting, shameful and wrong.
Unfortunately, eventually there were Muslim rulers who treated Egypt’s Coptic Christians horribly due to their faith, and others were greedy thugs who imposed very high taxes and financially discriminated against them to such an extent that many became Muslims to escape it. Of course, other Coptic Egyptians accepted Islaam since they believed it to be true, but there were also cases of people doing so to escape unjust treatment. However, that happened long after the Prophet’s lifetime and even after the initial Muslim conquest. That was utterly shameful and criminal conduct and indefensible of these later Muslim rulers; however, they weren’t the ones who introduced Islaam. Below is a citation from an article about the early Muslim rule of Egypt from the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
“In Egypt—as in Syria, Iraq, and Iran—the Arab conquerors did little in the beginning to disturb the status quo; as a small religious and ethnic minority, they thus hoped to make the occupation permanent. Treaties concluded between ʿAmr and the muqawqis (presumably a title referring to Cyrus, archbishop of Alexandria) granted protection to the native population in exchange for the payment of tribute. There was no attempt to force, or even to persuade, the Egyptians to convert to Islam; the Arabs even pledged to preserve the Christian churches. The Byzantine system of taxation, combining a tax on land with a poll tax, was maintained, though it was streamlined and centralized for the sake of efficiency. The tax was administered by Copts, who staffed the tax bureau at all but the highest levels.
To the mass of inhabitants, the conquest must have made little practical difference, because the Muslim rulers, in the beginning at least, left them alone as long as they paid their taxes; if anything, their lot may have been slightly easier, because Byzantine religious persecution had ended. (See Melchite, monophysite, Council of Chalcedon.) […]
The process of Arabization, however, was slow and gradual. Arabic did not displace Greek as the official language of state until 706, and there is evidence that Coptic continued to be used as a spoken language in Al-Fusṭāṭ. Given the lack of pressure from the conquerors, the spread of their religion must have been even slower than that of their language.”
Below is another interesting article about how Muslims ruled in Egypt, that can be found on the website of Bethel University, a Christian academic institution:
“Islam rose in Saudia Arabia early in the seventh century, then swept across the Middle East and North Africa. Egypt fell to the Arabs by the middle of the seventh century, in large part because the rulers of both church and state were the hated imperial Chalcedonian Christians. The Coptic-speaking monophysite majority rejoiced to be free of Byzantine rule, gained a measure of religious toleration they had not known since the Council of Chalcedon, and found themselves taxed at just over half the rate they had been under the Empire.
For the first four centuries of their rule, the Arabs treated the Copts with forebearance, in part because Mohammed, whose Egyptian wife was the only one to bear him a son, had said “When you conquer Egypt, be kind to the Copts for they are your proteges and kith and kin.” The Copts were therefore allowed to practice their religion freely, and were protected as “People of the Book” as long as they paid a special tax, called the “Geyza.” The Coptic population became an important source of revenue for the Islamic governors, and at one point they discouraged conversion to Islam for financial reasons. The tax advantages of becoming Muslim led to a slow decline in the Coptic population until it stabilized at just under 10% of the population.”
As it must be remembered and acknowledged, later on there definitely were injustices perpetrated against Egypt’s Christians. These crimes did take place, and it would be dishonest to try to deny or minimize them. However, they also were not perpetrated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his companions. They happened much later.
Obvious similarities to the conduct of many Christians exist. Centuries after the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), Christians murdered fellow Christians and non-Christians alike. Historical horrors that included the Crusades, the Inquisition, as well as the genocidal conquest of the Americas and Australia in addition to large parts of Africa and Asia are examples of only some atrocities that were done in the name of Christianity, and people also often had the choice to convert or die. While neither Islaam nor Christianity promote or condone either aggressive warfare or religious compulsion or other crimes against humanity, it cannot be denied that Muslims as well as Christians throughout history have done horrific things in the names of our respective faiths.
It would be great to say that such reprehensible behavior is a thing of the medieval past, and that we have learned from our mistakes. Unfortunately, the genocides that took place in Bosnia, Armenia and, East Timor—and the crimes against humanity that continue to take place in Palestine, Iraq, West Papua, and the Central African Republic and so many other places in our world—are a chilling reminder that among Christians and Muslims alike there are still those who choose to follow Shaitan over following God, and who decide to commit unspeakable evils against their fellow human beings.
Contrary to both what was written by Mr. Al-Hallaaj and what is unfortunately believed by many Muslims, it is not permissible to kill apostates. Islaam is a religion that does not have compulsion. The Quran makes extremely clear that no one can be forced to become a Muslim, and in fact it is Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) who will guide people to Islaam or allow them to be misguided.
People who were once Muslims and choose to leave Islaam are committing the very serious sin of disbelief (or kufr), and if they die in that state they will be in hellfire forever, alongside those who rejected Islaam. People in both of these categories had to have rejected, or left, Islaam while knowing what it teaches and having had the opportunity to study it and see that it is true. There is an eternal punishment for rejectors and apostates. However, there is no earthly one. To their last breath, they have the opportunity to turn back. It is Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) who gave them life, and Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) who will at a certain point take it away. Muslims have no such right.
There is a great article from a Shia website regarding the issue of apostates and why it is not permissible to harm them solely on the basis of their religious decision. Unfortunately there are Muslims who are under the impression that the horrific crime of murdering apostates is ok. However, they go against Gods Word.
On page 11, Al-Hallaaj mentions the story of Urfa, a poet who the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) allegedly ordered to be murdered for writing critical things about him. The story appears in one hadith as well as the biography written by the Prophet (peace be upon him) by Ibn Ishaq, a man who was born some 68 years after the Prophet (peace be upon him) died, and not in the Quran. For me, therefore, it isn’t guaranteed that this event ever happened. However, assuming it did, one has to bear in mind that the same accounts that claim she was killed also claim that she was the head of a tribe that robbed and murdered several of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and also tried to assassinate him. She wasn’t therefore killed (assuming this incident happened) just for being a poet, but on the contrary, for being a leader of a hostile group that was launching deadly attacks on the early Muslims. Her alleged killing was caused by her role in ordering attacks on early Muslims, not her prose.
Al-Hallaaj’s claim of the existence of 20 copies of the Quran before Caliph Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) authorized only one text is an interesting one. What is known is that the Quran was written down in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) lifetime on scraps of leather, bones, etc., and not compiled yet into a book by most people. Many made their own copies, but often with grammatical and spelling errors. This sometimes meant that there were different pronunciations of words which meant slight alteration in meanings. The potential problem seen by the early Muslims was that if this was unchecked it could lead to different versions of the Quran and problems like those which befell Christians and Jews. Caliph Uthman had all the chapters written down and put into one book, and then ordered all the other copies to be burnt. People gave their copies willingly, some right away and others after some convincing. It wasn’t, however, like people ever had chapters that were not included in the “official” copy. It was a matter of some having versions with some spelling and grammatical errors.
This is quite different from how the Bible was canonized. While all the 4 Gospels were accepted right away, the other books were accepted quite later, literally over centuries. According to an evangelical Christian website:
“[t]he first “canon” was the Muratorian Canon, which was compiled in AD 170. The Muratorian Canon included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. In AD 363, the Council of Laodicea stated that only the Old Testament (along with one book of the Apocrypha) and 26 books of the New Testament (everything but Revelation) were canonical and to be read in the churches. The Council of Hippo (AD 393) and the Council of Carthage (AD 397) also affirmed the same 27 books as authoritative.”
In addition, for many years, some in the early church had also a gospel called “The Shepherd of Hermas,” which was regarded as canonical by some early church fathers, including Ireaneus. Eventually, it was rejected.
The author of the website gives the reason for its (eventual) rejection as “the leading of the Holy Spirit”. One could ask why the Holy Spirit didn’t make this clear from the beginning.
Even in the Gospels today, different Bible versions will include some verses and exclude others. For example, the beautiful passage of Jesus (peace be upon him) saving a woman accused of adultery from death by stoning (the so-called “Pericope de Adultera” in John 7:53, 8:1-11), is accepted by the King James Version, but put in italics for the New International Version. According to the NIV,
“[t]he earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]”
With regards to the Quran, people had versions with some pronunciation and spelling differences, and some were incomplete. However, there was no issue with some chapters being accepted and others rejected. There was never a matter of different Quran chapters whose authenticity people disputed. That the author of “More Than A Dream: Life with Jesus Christ” rejected the Quran due to the burning of some copies that were incomplete, but became a Christian despite the very numerous differing Biblical texts and versions, is quite interesting to say the least.
On page 11, the author points out that in Islaam, there is no assurance of heaven. That is true. As Muslims, we believe that it is necessary to both believe and do good works in order to get to Paradise. We also believe that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is not only forgiving and will forgive anyone who asks for forgiveness and tries to improve, but that also good deeds are rewarded many times whereas bad deeds are punished proportionately. The Quran states that:
“If any does good, the reward to him is better than his deed; but if any does evil, the doers of evil are only punished (to the extent) of their deeds.”
There are also some hadiths in Sahih Bukhari—a collection that most Sunni Muslims believe are the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that are believed to have been very accurately recorded by the narrators who are quoted in Bukhari’s compilation—that state that every Muslim who sincerely believed and stated with conviction “laa ilaha ilAllah Muhammad al rasul Allah” (“there is no god but Allah and the Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”), even if they had more bad deeds than good deeds and may go to hell for a long time, will eventually enter Paradise. As long as they did not worship anyone besides God or reject Him, and they did not do things that are forbidden in the Quran while claiming they are Islamically acceptable, they will eventually be pulled from hell.
Unlike the Quran, even the most reliable hadiths (marked as “Sahih”) in the end may or may not be true, though I hope this one is! The Quran does however state that the only sin that God will not forgive is shirk (associating partners with Him), but anything less than that He may forgive:
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.”
As previously stated in the brief synopsis of the book, the author stated that Odai (a Sunni) asked his wife to pray and beg the prophets from the Quran for help with an operation (p. 79). That is definitely shirk, and is not allowed in Islaam. There are several verses in the Quran that address this topic, and I will cite one such verse:
“And do not invoke besides Allah that which neither benefits you nor harms you, for if you did, then indeed you would be of the wrongdoers. And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him; and if He intends for you good, then there is no repeller of His bounty. He causes it to reach whom He wills of His servants. And He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
I have yet to hear of any Sunni Muslim who prays to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), or anyone else, to ask for healing. Only Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) can be prayed to or worshiped, because only He is God. It is possible that Odai may have met people like that but then I would just say that the “Muslims” that Al-Hallaaj and Odai were around—from Al-Hallaaj’s fellow Muslims who hated all Jews and the terrorists who tried to behead him for accepting Christianity, to Odai’s Sunni and Shia friends who asked the prophets in the Quran for healing—were misunderstanding Islaam dreadfully at best and were actually non-Muslims in the worst case.
Odai’s Sunni Muslims friends allegedly said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cured him from his disease and his Shia friends claimed it was Ali (p. 89). I don’t know about Shia beliefs, but I know that no Sunni Muslim would ever say such a thing. I have to admit that I found the account presented of Sunni and Shia Muslims praying to prophets very difficult to believe, and I have some doubts as to the veracity of the author. However, it is possible he was around people who were not following Islaam, and he mistakenly believed that they were. It is very possible that he himself never was a Muslim to begin with.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading his work, and I hope that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) guides him back to Islaam, or perhaps, more accurately, that he accepts it for the first time.
 Editor’s Note: This book does not seem to be widely available. As of the publication of this article, it was available on Amazon by only two sellers: https://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Dream-Jesus-Christ/dp/B00IC8DSE2
 Editor’s Note: Peter is an ex-Evangelical Christian who converted to Islam just a couple of years ago. Alhamdulillah!
 Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:190.
 Editor’s Note: The so-called “Quran only” group, also known as “Submitters”, is a heretical group which is unanimously considered by both Sunni and Shia Muslims as unbelievers, and are not to be considered Muslims. However, the article
For more on the Islamic perspective on war, see the following articles on the “Quran and Bible Blog”:
 Editor’s Note: Even if it was true, how does that “prove” that Islam is false and Christianity is true? Such subjective criteria only show how desperate some Christians really are. If anything, appealing to people’s emotions rather than their reason only shows that Christians like Al-Hallaaj are basically like used-car salesmen. They will say anything to sell their product to an unsuspecting customer.
 Editor’s Note: Perhaps someone should ask Al-Hallaaj if he pays any taxes! Certainly, non-Muslims living in a Muslim country must pay a tax (Jizyah), but so do Muslims. In fact, the Zakat is a heavier tax (2% of one’s savings) and is required from all Muslims who have a certain (minimum) amount of wealth. In addition, non-Muslims who serve in the Muslim army are exempted from paying the Jizyah. To say that levying the Jizyah on non-Muslims somehow makes them “second-class” citizens is simply absurd.
 Editor’s Note: The Byzantines also took heavy taxes from their own fellow Christians, the Egyptian Copts as well. In fact, they heavily persecuted the Coptic Christians.
 Editor’s Note: As stated above (note #7), the Jizyah is required for all non-Muslims living in a Muslim country. However, it is true that Surah At-Tawba, 9:29, was specifically revealed in regards to the defeated Christians and Jews in the Prophet Muhammad’s time.
 Surah Al-Mumtahanah, 60:8-9.
 This short yet very detailed article explains it well and provides many examples from the Quran: https://www.islamicity.org/4659/can-muslims-be-friends-with-jews-and-christians/
 Editor’s Note: The so-called “Pact of Umar” is attributed by some Muslims (and non-Muslims) to the Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz, also known as Umar II. However, this “pact” is regarded as a later forgery. In fact, Umar II was known to be a just and fair ruler, and the greatest of the Umayyad caliphs (most of whom were degenerates and despots even to Muslims), though he only ruled for 2 years. In a letter sent to one of the Muslim governors, Umar II urged just and kind treatment of non-Muslims. Among the commands was the following:
“[p]ay attention to the condition of the Protected (non-Muslims), treat them tenderly. If any of them reaches old age and has no resources, it is you who pay for his keeps. If he has relatives, demand these latter to pay for his keeps. Apply retaliation if anybody commits tort against him. This is as if you have a slave who reaches old age; you should pay for his keeps until his death or liberate him” (Maher Younes Abu-Munshar, “A Historical Study of Muslim Treatment of Christians in Islamic Jerusalem at the Time of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Salah Al-Din With Special Reference to Islamic Value of Justice” (PhD diss., University of Abertay Dundee, 2003, 57, https://rke.abertay.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/15104389/Abu_Munshar_2003_A_historical_study_of_Muslim_treatment_PhD.pdf).
In another letter, Umar II commanded levying the Jizyah in a just manner:
“[p]urify the registers from the charge of obligation (i.e., taxes levied unjustly); and study old files (also). If any injustice has been committed regarding a Muslim or a non-Muslim, restore him his right. If any such person should have died, remit his rights to his heirs’” (Ibid.).
 Editor’s Note: The Umayyad caliphs were especially cruel, but they also took heavy taxes from the Muslim population as well. Some Umayyad caliphs were even apostates from Islam and were known for their excesses.
 Editor’s Note: As Jonathan Brown explains, all Sunni schools agree that the penalty for apostasy is indeed death, but scholars like Yusuf Qaradawi have explained that this was limited to “transgressive apostasy”, which included “public ridicule of Islam or calling others to apostatize” (Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [London: OneWorld Publications, 2015], p. 188). Another scholar, Ali Gomaa, viewed the apostasy as a capital crime only in the context of “high treason, namely a betrayal of the Muslim state and polity” (Ibid.).
However, private decisions to leave Islam were not punishable. This is based on the examples of the Prophet himself and his companions. In addition, according to the Hanafi school, female apostates could not be executed at all, but rather imprisoned (Ibid., p. 67).
 Editor’s Note: The exception is in the interest of justice, such as executing a murderer, as the Quran states:
“Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom” (Surah Al-Anaam, 6:151).
Editor’s Note: There is controversy among Sunnis as to whether Shia Muslims are still under the fold of Islam. In the editor’s opinion, they are still Muslims, though with certain beliefs that are wrong from the point of view of Islamic orthodoxy. However, they also share the view of many Sunni scholars that apostates can only be killed in certain situations.
Given that Al-Hallaaj had been exposed to both Sunni and Shia perspectives, it is an interesting fact that there is agreement among many scholars from both sects regarding the appropriate context for punishing apostasy with death.
 For more Biblical canons, other than the “Muratorian Canon”, see here: https://www.islamic-awareness.org/bible/text/canon/
Here is another Christian, James White, discussing this passage and some others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYkPn2aXKds
 Editor’s Note: Actually, one might say that it is down-right laughable and absurd.
For more on why the Bible cannot be trusted, see the following:
 Surah Al-Qasas, 28:84.
 Editor’s Note: Sahih hadiths are regarded as reliable, and unless there is a good reason given as to why a sahih hadith may not be “true”, Muslims cannot simply pick and choose which ones to accept and which ones to deny.
 Surah An-Nisa, 4:48.
 Surah Yunus, 10:106, 107.
 Editor’s Note: Also, if Al-Hallaaj did not even know that such practices are haram (forbidden) in Islam, then his knowledge of Islam was woefully poor. As such, he does not present a strong case against Islam in the least. In fact, he has essentially proven that ignorance led him astray even when he was a “Muslim”, so it is not surprising that Christianity appealed to him.