Monday, September 04, 2006

Forced Conversion to Islam

The media report that the two abducted (and subsequently released) Fox News journalists were forced, under pain of death, to convert to Islam, and that the Muslim group responsible intends to continue this practice of abduction and forced conversion.
What if, Rachamana Litz'lan, this would happen to a Jew? Would this be a Yehareg V'Al Yaavor situation?
Excerpt from the Sefer B'Chol Nafsh'cha (R' Yitzchok Isaac Weinberg, Yerushalayim 5764) on matters related to Yehareg V'Al Yaavor:
The religion of Yishma'el (Islam) is not included in Avodah Zarah according to most Poskim, because they believe in the Unity of G-d with no others. 1
However, if they are forcing him to accept their religion upon himself or to admit to it, and otherwise they will kill him, he must be killed and not transgress. 2
Because they do not believe in the Holy Torah, and they also believe that there was another who was greater than Moshe Rabbeinu, Alav HaShalom, and this belief is an uprooting of the Torah.
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1 So writes the Rambam Hilchos Maachalos Assuros 11, that the Yishmaelim are not idolators, and their wine is not Yayin Nessech to be forbidden in Hanaah, (only in drinking), and he writes that this is how all of the Ge'onim have taught. In the Chiddishei HaRan to Sanhedrin (61b) he writes that the Yishmaelim are considered idolators. And L'Halachah the Taz (Yoreh De'ah 124:4) and Shach (ibid. 10) decide that Halachah that they are not idolators.
2 The Ritva to Pesachim (25b) writes: "And you should know that the faith of the Yishmaelim, although they believe in the unity of G-d, it is considered complete idolatry in terms of getting killed and not converting, for one who admits to their faith denies the Torah of Moshe, saying that it is not true as it is in our hands, and anything like this is complete idolatry, and they (Chazal) did not say by other commandments that one should transgress rather than get killed where their intent is to have one transgress, except in a circumstance where they tell him to violate Shabbos in order to transgress his religion, but not in a circumstance where they tell him to violate Shabbos so as to concede that your Torah is not true and G-d did not command to keep Shabbos. So I have heard."
And so writes the Radbaz (Teshuvos 4:72), and he adds another reason to forbid accepting the religion of Yishmael (even in a situation of Pikuach Nefesh, of course), because they say that there was someone whose level was above that of Moshe Rabbeinu, and this is a destruction of the religion [And see there, that he writes another reason, that if he acts in a manner which is in accordance with that of Islam, he might transgress serious Aveiros without realizing it. But, this reason only applies if they are forcing him to be completely like them, but if they are just forcing him to admit to their religion this is not applicable.]
And it is known that the Rambam in Iggeres HaShmad writes that one does not have to give up his life when being forced to convert to Islam. But one who looks inside there will see that there they were not forced to convert to Islam, rather they could fulfill the Mitzvos as they wished, they were only forced to admit that their Meshuga was the Messiah, and that was also only outwardly, and the non-Jews knew that the intent of teh Jews was not to really admit it, only from the lip outward, and therefore it was permitted. But certainly, to admit to their religion in a manner that it looks like he really admits it and denies the Torah of the Jews is included in Yehareg V'Al Yaavor, as the Ritva and Radvaz write.
However, there is a practical difference in that the Muslims are not idolators, that if he is forced to admit that their belief in the Creator is correct, he can admit this, and there is no heresy. [As opposed to Christianity, that admitting to their faith is complete heresy, and Yehareg V'al Yaavor]. Only if he is forced to accept their religion, or to admit that their religion is correct, this is included in heresy and is Yehareg V'Al Yaavor.

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