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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 12:16 GMT
Your questions on the war
Helen from the UK asks:

When an atrocity is committed by a Muslim person, can they be expelled from Islam?

The BBC's Religious Affairs correspondent writes:

There is no hierarchy in Islam with a figure at its head who has the authority to expel a Muslim from the faith, whatever crime they might commit.


A properly qualified scholar may issue a fatwa

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, for example, whose head, the pope, can excommunicate a person, Islam has no such formal procedure.

A properly qualified scholar may issue a fatwa (a religious opinion) declaring a person to be outside Islam, but if that person continues to behave as a Muslim and believe him or herself to be one, then they effectively remain a Muslim.

The author Salman Rushdie was declared to be outside Islam (and therefore a "kafir") by Ayatollah Khomeini.

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