Islam is a one-way street. You can convert to Islam but you are not allowed to convert from Islam. All schools of Islamic law, shari‘a, agree on this rule and specify the death sentence for an adult male Muslim who chooses to leave his Islamic faith. Most also impose the death penalty on women apostates. The rule was established many centuries ago by Islamic scholars, but even today most Islamic religious leaders and many ordinary Muslim people agree with it.
The death penalty is rarely put into practice, but the existence of this “apostasy law” is so well known amongst Muslims that it generates strong hostility towards apostates, whether from family or community, from religious or secular leaders, from police or judiciary. So it is normal for converts from Islam to face persecution and violence. They may be arrested, either for apostasy or on a pretext. They may be attacked, beaten or even murdered by their own relatives. And those who commit the violence will probably not be punished for it.
A further range of penalties for apostasy is laid down in shari‘a, including losing one’s spouse and children and forfeiting one’s property and inheritance. These are imposed in many Muslim contexts today.
It is not surprising that many converts from Islam to Christianity keep their new faith secret, but why should they have to do so? Islam actively encourages non-Muslims to convert to Islam, but it is the only world faith with a death sentence for those who leave it.
As part of the campaign to have the apostasy law abolished, Barnabas has a petition you can sign, calling on the government to ‘support all efforts by Muslims to have the apostasy law abolished, so that Muslims who choose to leave their faith are no longer liable to any penalty but are free to follow their new convictions without fear, in accordance with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’