Was Islam spread by the sword?

31 Aug

1. There is a fundamental rule stated in the Qur’an, namely the right to choose one’s religion: "Let there be no compulsion in religion". [2/256]. Accordingly, Islam emphasized that a person’s belief in Islam or his rejecting to believe in it is a matter that depends upon man’s free will and his sincere conviction. This is stated in the following Qur’anic verse: "Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it)". [18/129] God, in the verses of the Qur’an, drew the Prophet’s attention to this fact and emphasized that he was only a messenger whose duty was only to convey the Divine Message and that he had no authority to force people into conforming to Islam. This is clearly expressed in the following Qur’anic verses: "Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?" [10/99] "You are not one to manage (men’s) affairs". [88/10] "If then they turn away, We have not sent you as a guard over them. Your duty is but to convey (The Message)". [42/48] The aforementioned verses make it quite clear that the Holy Book of the Muslims definitely prohibits forcing anyone to follow the faith of Islam.
2. Islam has defined the course that Muslims must follow when inviting people to believe in the faith of Islam and the manner in which the faith should be spread everywhere. The manner in which Muslims should invite people to embrace Islam is stated in the following Qur’anic verses: "Invite (all) to the Way of your God with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious" [16/125] and "Speak fair to the people". [2/83]. The Qur’an contains no less than one hundred and twenty verses which emphasize that the basic rule to be followed, when Muslims invite people to believe in Islam is to convince them calmly and graciously and then to leave them to decide for themselves whether to accept or reject the faith. After the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet addressed its people saying: "You are free now", and he did not force them to adopt Islam inspite of his decisive victory(Al-Ghazali, Muhammad: One Hundred Questions about Islam. Thabet’s Publishing House).
3. The Muslims never forced a Jew or a Christian to adopt Islam, and ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph, assured the people of Jerusalem that their lives, their churches and their crosses would not be harmed on account of his faith. The Prophet recorded in his first constitution for Al-Madina, after having emigrated from Mecca, that the Jews were a nation living with the Muslims and that he acknowledged their right to believe in their faith.
4. In her book Allah is Completely Different, the German orientalist, Sigrid Hunke(Hunke, Sigrid: Allah ist ganz anders. Horizont Verlag) refutes the accusation that Islam was spread by the sword. She wrote: "The tolerance of the Arabs played an important role in the spreading of Islam, contrary to what has been falsely claimed that it was spread by fire and the sword, which is an unjust and unverified accusation against Islam". She also wrote: “Christians, Jews, Sabians and pagans embraced Islam of their own free will”. It is a well-known fact that Muslim armies never invaded South Asia or West Africa, yet Islam spread and flourished in these countries after Muslim merchants travelled with their merchandise to these countries Muslim Sufis with their peaceful attitude also impressed the inhabitants of these lands. The natives of these distant countries saw for themselves the conduct, morals, and dealings of the Muslims, and accordingly, embraced Islam of their own free will

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