Explanation of Hadeeth Number 14
And in some of the narrations of this hadeeth, that are also agreed upon by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, it mentions : "It is not permissible to spill the blood of a Muslim who testifies that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that I am the Messenger of Allaah, except in three [instances] ...". So his (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) statement "testifies that none is worthy of worship except Allaah and I am the Messenger of Allaah" is as though a tafseer (explanation) of his statement "a Muslim". Similarly, his statement "[who] separates from the community" is like a tafseer of his statement "who forsakes his religion". So in these three instances the blood of a Muslim can be spilt, from a textual evidence. And the meaning of the 'community' (al-jamaa'ah) is the community of Muslims. So separating from the Muslims by apostacy from the Religion of Islaam is a reason for the permissibilty of shedding his blood.
And his (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) statement "the one who forsakes his religion and separates from the community" is general and refers to all those who apostate from Islaam, by whichever method this may occur, and it then becomes obligatory on the Muslims to kill him unless he returns to Islaam.
And the scholars have mentioned that this also includes all those who leave [being of] the community of Muslims through an innovation or transgression or other than that, and Allaah knows best. [Note: It would appear that this innovation or transgression must be of a very serious nature, such that the perpetrator would effectively leave the fold of Islaam]
And what is apparent is that this is a general rule [ie. killing a Muslim is only allowed in these three instances], but it also includes certain specific situations such as an attacker or similar to that. In such cases, then it is permissible to kill a Muslim out of defence from harm from him - indeed it may be that this becomes obligatory, as such an attacker comes under those who have separated from the community. And also, the meaning here is that killing a Muslim intentionally is not permitted except in these three instances, and Allaah knows best.
And some of the 'ulamaa have used this hadeeth to show that the one who abandons the Prayer (salaah) is killed, because the one who abandons the Prayer is included amongst these three. And the scholars have differed over this issue, so from them are those who say that the one who abandons the Prayer becomes a disbeliever (kaafir) while others say that he does not. And some of those who rule that he becomes a kaafir use as a proof another hadeeth in the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam said "I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that none is worthy of worship except Allaah, and that I am the Messenger of Allaah, and they establish the Prayer (salaah) and pay the poor due (zakaah)". So it is said: "the angle of derivation of proof is that the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam made protection based upon fulfilling all of these conditions - the two shahaadahs, establishing the salaah and paying the zakaah. And the consequence of these things (protection) is not attained except by fulfilling all of them, and is negated by the absence of any one of them." And this is what is obtained if we consider only the apparent speech of the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam where he said "I have been ordered to fight the people ...", as this seems to indicate an order to fight until the goal is obtained. However, [in taking such an understanding] it is forgotton and overlooked that there is a difference between muqaatalah (fighting) over something, and qatl (killing) over it. For in fighting over something the purpose is to obtain what is desired [that they return to the Prayer] in any way that may occur, and it does imply the necessity of killing the one who leaves the Prayer, as long as they do not fight us, and Allaah knows best.
And as for his (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) statement "the married person who commits adultery" then this includes both males and females, and it is a proof for that which is agreed upon by the Muslims that the ruling for the adulterer is stoning to death, with its conditions, as are mentioned in the books of Fiqh.
And his (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) statement : "a life for a life" is in agreement with the statement of Allaah ta'aalaa "And we have prescribed for them in it (the Tawraat) : a life for a life" [al-Maa'idah, 45]. And its meaning is those who are equivalent in Islaam and Freedom, due to the statement of the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) "A Muslim is not killed [in requittal] for a kaafir". And also, Freedom is a condition for equality according to Imaams Maalik, ash-Shaafi'ee and Ahmad. [ie. A free man cannot be killed for a slave] However, the scholars of Ahl-ur-Rayy [The People of Opinion - a reference to the scholars of the Hanafee madhhab] have taken the position that a Muslim is killed for a dhimmee [a non-Muslim who pays the jizyaa, and lives under the protection of a Muslim state] and that a free man is killed for a slave, and they use this hadeeth as a proof. But the jamhoor (majority of the scholars) have ruled opposite to this.
That a Muslim can be killed legally only for three crimes : a) adultery b) murder and c) apostacyhttp://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=241&category=24