Catholic World News

Iranian Islamic leader says Muslims are free to accept Christianity-- quietly

October 22, 2010

The Shi’ite Islamic leader who addressed the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East has said that Muslims in Iran are free to embrace the Christian faith, despite strict Islamic law that prescribes death as the penalty for forsaking Islam.

In an interview published by the National Catholic Register, Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi responds to questions about conversion by insisting on a distinction between accepting one faith and propagandizing against others. When pressed about the possibility of that Muslim would be allowed to embrace Christianity, he replies:

Yes, nobody can ask someone else what their religion is. This is forbidden. But if they make propaganda against any religion including Islam, then that’s not allowed.
The Shi’ite cleric’s answer does not address the question of what might happen when the hypothetical convert wishes to make a public profession of Christian faith, or engage in public worship at a Christian church.

In his address to the Synod, Ahmadabadi sketched a positive picture of the life of Christians in Iran today.

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  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 23, 2010 9:59 PM ET USA

    If Muslims gain a demographic majority here or in Europe this will become a problem for us too. Unfortunately if you believe in Americanist pluralism you have have no real grounds for not welcoming Muslims en masse into our country since pluralism sees room for everyone as long as they don't allow their ideas to be anything more than a private affair. Islam is tied to politics and it has historically always been a violent religion everywhere it has pitched its tent. Why should it change here?

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Oct. 23, 2010 8:48 PM ET USA

    The Soviet Constitution also guaranteed freedom of religion, but tell that to the Catholics, especially Catholic priests and bishops, exiled to Siberia or whose bodies were strewn along the icy road to Siberia, as they died along the way to "re-education." I'll bet Iranian Chritians, especially Catholics, are just as free now in Iran as Catholics were under Stalin! "There is no place on earth that a man can feel as free!" they sang in a popular song in Russia.

  • Posted by: John Chrysostom - Oct. 23, 2010 6:53 PM ET USA

    Since it is generally legal under Sharia to execute Muslims who embrace Christ, let us pray for these people - that they may be many and that their faith be strong. Of course, most Muslims are indeed good people who mean well AND many of them are open to Christ. Witnessing to them and leading them to Christ is really the only way to solve the culture issues (and to save them).

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Oct. 22, 2010 7:41 PM ET USA

    Even if this were the official position of the Iranian government, I wouldn't be surprised if they would find it very, very difficult to find the culprit if something were to ... you know, "happen" to a Christian convert.