Apostasy is the deliberate abandonment of one religion for another, or the renunciation of the creed of a faith, made voluntarily or under compulsion. If faith is the owing one's allegiance to and giving one's live for an ultimate reality, then abandoning that reality is to turn one's back on one's selfhood. At the social level, it turns an ultimate reality into a relative one and encourages other defections.
In 1993 in Egypt it was argued in court that Muslims are entitled according to Islamic law to kill apostates, if they are not punished by secular law (in which case the government is held not to be an Islamic government). This was in response to a case brought by Islamic fundamentalists instigating divorce proceedings for a happily married couple on the grounds that the husband was an enemy of Islam, in light of his writings, and therefore could not be married to a Muslim woman. In 1994, the Iranian religious authorities declared that their death sentence, or fatwa, of five years earlier against Salman Rushdie as a blasphemer and an apostate would have to be carried out, irrespective of whether he repented or not. According to Islamic law an apostate like Rushdie, born into a Muslim household, carries the death sentence for blaspheming prophets and values held dear to the world of Muslims. No one had the right to alter or hinder implementation of the decree.