Islam Spread Peacefully throughout the World by its message and Not by the Sword
Many non-Muslims, when they think about
Islam, picture religious fanatics on camels with a sword in one hand and a
in the other. This myth, which was made popular in Europe during the Crusades,
is totally baseless.
The Qur'an clearly instructs:
"Say: Oh you that reject the faith!
I do not worship that which you worship,
Nor will you worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which you have been accustomed to worship.
Nor will you worship that which I worship.
You have your way and I have mine." – Qur’an English
In other words, you do your thing, and I'll do mine. Thus, from this Chapter alone clearly the myths that claim that Islam promotes forceful conversions of non-Muslims is shattered.
Also, the Holy Qur'an clearly says "Let there be no compulsion in religion".
"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things."– Qur’an English Translation [2:256]
Compulsion is defined by Dictionary.com as: the act of compelling; constraint; coercion. Again we see DIRECT evidence from the Qur'an speaking out against forcing faith on people.
In addition to this, Islam teaches that a person's faith must be pure
and sincere, so it is certainly not something that can be forced on someone. In
debunking the myth that Islam was "spread by the sword", the (non-Muslim)
historian De Lacy O'Leary wrote:
"History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping
through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered
races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever
accepted." (Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923, p. 8.)
It should also be known that Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up to when they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries.
Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan all have Christian and/or Jewish populations. If Islam taught that all people are supposed to be killed or forced to become Muslims, how did all of these non-Muslims survive for so long in the middle of the Islamic Empire?
Additionally, if one considers the small number of Muslims who initially spread
Islam from Spain and Morocco in the West to India and China in the East, one
would realize that they were far too few to force people to be members of a
religion against their will. Additionally, the great empire and civilization
established by the Muslims had great staying power -- its citizens were proud to
be part of it.
The spread of Islam stands in contrast to the actions of the followers of Christianity, who since the time of the Emperor Constantine have made liberal use of the sword - often basing their conduct on Biblical verses. This was especially true of the colonization of South America and Africa, where native peoples were systematically wiped-out or forced to convert.
It is also interesting to note that when the Mongols invaded and conquered large portions of the Islamic Empire, instead of destroying the religion, they adopted it. This is a unique occurrence in history - the conquerors adopting the religion of the conquered! Since they were the victors, they certainly could not have been forced to become Muslims!
Ask any of the over one billion Muslims
alive in the world today whether they were forced! The largest Muslim country in
the world today is Indonesia...and there were never any battles fought there!
So where was the sword? How could someone be forced to adhere to a spiritually rewarding and demanding religion like Islam? Islam indeed spread through peaceful means. God mentions in the Qur'an the proper way of calling people to the faith:
"Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." – Qur’an English Translation [16:125]
What did God tell Prophet Muhammad about concerning himself with other's faith
All throughout the Qur'an God is instructing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to preach the clear message (Qur'an) to the public and nothing more. God tells Prophet Muhammad that he is to be a bearer of good news and not the disposer of men's affairs.
His job is not to force belief on anyone but to simply give admonition (advice, warning, and counsel) to those around him. The Qur'an is a mercy sent from God so that people may take heed of God's final revelation to mankind in order to benefit their own souls:
"And We have sent thee (O Muhammad) only as a bearer of good tidings and a warner. Say: I ask of you no reward for this, save that whoso will may choose a way unto his Lord." - Qur’an English Translation [25:56-57]
"Verily We have revealed the Book
to thee in Truth, for (instructing) mankind. He, then, that receives guidance
benefits his own soul: but he that strays injures his own soul.
Nor art thou set
over them to dispose of their affairs." - Qur’an English Translation [39:41]
"And those who take as protectors others besides Him,- Allah doth watch over them; and thou art not the disposer of their affairs." - Qur’an English Translation [42:6]
"Say: "Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger. but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The Messenger's duty is only to preach the clear (Message)." - Qur’an English Translation [24:54]
"And to rehearse the Qur'an: and if any accept guidance, they do it for the good of their own souls, and if any stray, say: "I am only a Warner." - Qur’an English Translation [27:92]
thou give admonition,
for thou art one to admonish. Thou art not one to manage (men's) affairs.
But if any turn away and reject Allah, -Allah will punish him with a mighty
Punishment," - Qur’an
English Translation [88:21-24]
"Say thou: "This is my way: I do invite unto Allah,- on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes,- I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah. and never will I join gods with Allah." - Qur’an English Translation [12:108]
"So obey Allah, and obey His Messenger. but if ye turn back, the duty of Our Messenger is but to proclaim (the Message) clearly and openly. Allah. There is no god but He: and on Allah, therefore, let the Believers put their trust." - Qur’an English Translation [64:12-13]
"But if any reject Faith, let not his rejection grieve thee: to Us is their return, and We shall tell them the truth of their deeds: for Allah knows well all that is in (men's) hearts." - Qur’an English Translation [31:23]
"And let nothing keep thee back from the Signs of Allah after they have been revealed to thee: and invite (men) to thy Lord, and be not of the company of those who join gods with Allah." - Qur’an English Translation [28:87]
God often mentions the spiritually deaf and blind
God tells the Prophet that he cannot guide those whom voluntarily deny faith and guidance, for they are "spiritually deaf and blind" to the truth:
"So put thy trust in Allah. for thou art on (the path of) manifest Truth. Truly thou canst not cause the dead to listen, nor canst thou cause the deaf to hear the call, especially) when they turn back in retreat. Nor canst thou be a guide to the blind, (to prevent them) from straying: only those wilt thou get to listen who believe in Our Signs, and they will bow in Islam." - Qur’an English Translation [27:79-81]
Prophet Jesus too understood that those whom don't seek guidance are also spiritually deaf and blind:
"To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand." - New Testament (Matthew 13: 12-13)
"Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts, So they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the signs, not they will believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee, they (but) dispute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but tales of the ancients." - Qur’an English Translation [6:25]
"O ye who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him when ye hear (him speak). Nor be like those who say, "We hear," but listen not: For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb,- those who understand not. If Allah had found in them any good. He would indeed have made them listen: (As it is), if He had made them listen, they would but have turned back and declined (Faith). O ye who believe! give your response to Allah and His Messenger, when He calleth you to that which will give you life; and know that Allah cometh in between a man and his heart, and that it is He to Whom ye shall (all) be gathered." - Qur’an English Translation [8:20-24]
"A Book, whereof the verses are explained in detail;- a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who understand;- Giving good news and admonition: yet most of them turn away, and so they hear not. They say: "Our hearts are under veils, (concealed) from that to which thou dost invite us, and in our ears in a deafness, and between us and thee is a screen: so do thou (what thou wilt); for us, we shall do (what we will!)." " - Qur’an English Translation [41:3-5]
"They thought there would be no trial (or punishment); so they became blind and deaf; yet Allah (in mercy) turned to them; yet again many of them became blind and deaf. But Allah sees well all that they do." - Qur’an English Translation [5:71]
"Hast thou seen him who chooseth for his god his own lust? Wouldst thou then be guardian over him? Or deemest thou that most of them hear or understand? They are but as the cattle - nay, but they are farther astray?" - Qur’an English Translation [25:43-44]
"Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight." - Qur’an English Translation [76:2]
"Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?- And a tongue, and a pair of lips?- And shown him the two highways?" – Qur’an English Translation [90:9-10]
"Say: "Think ye, if Allah took away your hearing and your sight, and sealed up your hearts, who - a god other than Allah - could restore them to you?" See how We explain the signs by various (symbols); yet they turn aside." - Qur’an English Translation [6:46]
Indeed, God has given us the necessary faculties of intellect to discern truth from error. We are suppose to use these gifts of learning to gain knowledge through analysis:
"O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done. " - Qur’an English Translation [49:6]
Proclaiming God's message to your nearest kin
So how was The Prophet instructed to deal with his nearest kin, as far as proclaiming God's message:
"And admonish thy nearest kinsmen, And lower thy wing to the Believers who follow thee. Then if they disobey thee, say: "I am free (of responsibility) for what ye do!" - Qur’an English Translation [26:214 -216]
Clearly, if someone chooses the path of disbelief than that is their choice. As Muslims we are only responsible for our own souls on the Day of Judgment. As the Qur'an clearly instructs and as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) demonstrated; faith cannot be forced upon anyone. The repercussions of disbelief come from God alone, for as people we are not the disposers of other's affairs.
So what does the Bible say about accepting the disbelief of your loved one and nearest kin?
"If your very own
brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend
secretly entices you, saying: Let us go and worship other gods
(gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around
you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other, or gods of
other religions), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no
pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.
Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all
the people." - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Deuteronomy
"and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods,
bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this
has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If
it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in
Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city
gate and stone that person to death."
- Old Testament (Tanakh) (Deuteronomy 17:3-5)
"All who would not seek the LORD, the God of
Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or
great, man or woman." - Old Testament
God instructs the believers to forgive the non-believers
Truly, the Qur'an has no equivalent to the Bible's calling for the death of apostates. Far from it however, God clearly instructs us that there is to be no compulsion in religion:
"Let there be NO compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things."– Qur’an English Translation [2:256]
Indeed, God tells us to actually forgive those who do no look forward to being near to God:
"Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah. It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned. If any one does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against (his own soul). In the end will ye (all) be brought back to your Lord." - Qur’an English Translation [45:14-15]
servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility,
and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!"" - Qur’an English
Repercussions of rejecting the clear truth
So the bottom line is that the choice to believe is our own. However, if we act irrationally without careful consideration of the consequences, there can be unwanted repercussions...so choose wisely:
Say, "The truth is from your Lord": Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces, how dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on! As to those who believe and work righteousness, verily We shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed. - Qur’an English Translation [18:29-30]
According to the Bible, Jesus too understood the repercussions of rejecting God's Law:
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” - New Testament (Matthew 10:28)
"Nay, this surely is an admonition: Let any who will, keep it in remembrance!" - Qur’an English Translation [74:54]
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Young India – 1920:
"I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place in Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble."
For more refuting of the stereotype that Islam promotes violent conversions:
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