Within the same line, come the following questions\accusations:
· How can Islam be called the religion of peace when it was spread by the sword?
· Islam is a violent religion!
· Islam was forced on people! People were forced into Islam!
· Islam would not have as many followers if it wasn’t spread by the sword!
In following Post I will try historically and logically to make it clear, that Islam was far from being spread by the sword, it was the inherent force of truth, reason and logic that was responsible for the rapid spread of Islam.
Major Muslims Distribution
Islam means peace.
Islam comes from the root word ‘salaam’, which means peace. It also means submitting one’s will to Allah (swt).
God sent us a clear rule…
With which sword was Islam spread I ask?
Even if Muslims had it they could not use it to “spread” Islam, because the Qur’an says in the following verse: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear"
Even our Prophet (PBUH) said (meaning of): “Do not kill an old man, a woman, a child, a worshiper, a priest, or even a man if he has no weapon (not going to fight you). Do not cut tree or bury a well. Do not kill the wounded and do not mutilate a corpse”.
How come the Prophet and Quran say these things and then people think that Muslims were going putting people under the blade to either embrace Islam or get chopped off!
Forcing people is incorrect and not to be used by Muslims, for more details about this check my previous post "Islam Forces People To Embrace It - Truth Or Fiction ".
Even the first verses for waging war were revealed, they were very clear about the context of which this could\should happen; it is to be done to protect mulsims from injustice that happened to them. It went as follows:
. (أذن للذين يقاتلون ) أى اعتدى عليهم فمن حقهم الرد - ( بأنهم ظلموا وإن الله على نصرهم لقدير. الذين أخرجوا من ديارهم بغير حق إلا أن يقولوا ربنا الله .. )
Meaning of: “Permission (to fight back) has been granted to the ones who are fought against because injustice has been done to them, and God is capable of making them win. They are the ones who were unjustly driven out of their lands\homes just because they believed that Allah is their God”.
Now let’s talk numbers and historical facts…
Indonesia and Malaysia.
Indonesia is a country that has the maximum number of Muslims in the world. The majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. May one ask, “Which Muslim army went to Indonesia and Malaysia?”
Answer is "Non!". No armies were sent to either country, yet Islam has spread through them.
East Coast of Africa.
Similarly, Islam has spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. One may again ask, if Islam was spread by the sword, “Which Muslim army went to the East Coast of Africa?”
The answer again: “Non!”
Muslims in Spain in Comparison to Christians in the Islamic World:
Muslims ruled Spain for about 800 years. The Muslims in Spain never used the Sword to force the people to convert. Later the Christian Crusaders came to Spain and wiped out the Muslims. There was not a single Muslim in Spain who could openly give the adhan (the call for prayers). They wiped out Muslims totally! they killed all people or forced them to convert.
They even destroyed all the monuments belonging to them (except for a handful of Masjid which no prayers were to take place in).
Muslims were the lords of Arabia for 1400 years. For a few years the British ruled, and for a few years the French ruled. Overall, the Muslims ruled Arabia for 1400 years. Yet today, there are millions of Arabs who are Christians estimated 10 million in Egypt alone).
If the Muslims had used the sword there would not have been a single Arab who would have remained a Christian (Like what happened to Muslims in Spain).
More than 80% non-Muslims in India.
The Muslims ruled India for about a thousand years. If they wanted, they had the power of converting each and every non-Muslim of India to Islam (by the sword as non-muslims would say).
Today, more than 80% of the population of India are non-Muslims. All these non-Muslim Indians are bearing witness today that Islam was not spread by the sword.
Just to give you an idea of a couple of western historians who actually thought of Islam in a rational way:
De Lacy O’Leary:
The best reply to the misconception that Islam was spread by the sword is given by the noted historian De Lacy O’Leary in the book “Islam at the cross road” (Page 8):
“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 myth that historians have ever repeated.”
The famous historian, Thomas Carlyle, in his book “Heroes and Hero worship”, refers to this misconception about the spread of Islam: “The sword indeed, but where will you get your word? Every new opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one. In one man’s head alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it, there is one man against all men. That he takes a sword and try to propagate with that, will do little for him. You must get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can.”
People might say: ”how come Islam or what is right (per muslims’ view) has to be done by the sword? Islam sent armies to Persian, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and others. Can you say they didn’t?”
Yes, it is true that Muslim armies to those countries. But, there are two sides that have to be put in perspective before judging why the armies were sent, and what were the consequences…
1- Going to War…
The Conquests Of Salah el Din
Peace in Islam is the norm, war was\is to fight for what is right and just.
War is legitimate if it is for the right reasons and as the last resort (stress on the latter part).
Sometimes force has to be used to maintain peace.
There are many, who would disrupt peace and harmony for their own vested interests. Sometimes force has to be used to maintain peace. It is precisely for this reason that we have the police who use force against criminals and antisocial elements to maintain peace in the country. Islam promotes peace. At the same time, Islam exhorts it followers to fight where there is oppression. The fight against oppression may, at times, require the use of force. In Islam force can only be used to promote peace and justice.
As God said:
( ولولا دفع الله الناس بعضهم ببعض لهدمت صوامع وبيع وصلوات ومساجد يذكر فيها اسم الله كثيرًا ولينصرن الله من ينصره إن الله لقوى عزيز )
( ولولا دفع الله الناس بعضهم ببعض لفسدت الأرض )
Meaning of: "If it wasn’t for people who are willing to protect justice and what is right, this world would have fallen into extreme corruption".
OK, so going for war... why did we?
The philosophy behind it is “everything that is between people and the freedom of choice has to be removed”.
Let’s go back 1400 years ago (when Islam was revealed)…
There were 2 super powers (The Persian and The Roman Empires). At that time Islam started uniting the Arabs (who became muslims) in the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries).
At that point of time, Prophet Mohammed decided to send messengers to all countries reachable at that time. Yemen, Egypt, Persia and Asham (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine) were a few countries he sent messengers to.
Being a prophet with a message from God, he had a message he wanted to deliver to all mankind. Because he was sent as mercy to all mankind, as stated in Al Anbya’a SURA:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
And the Prophet and his followers are to deliver and publicize that message to all mankind, as stated in Ibrahim SURA:
هَذَا بَلاغٌ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيُنْذَرُوا بِهِ وَلِيَعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَلِيَذَّكَّرَ أُولُو الأَلْبَابِ
And in AL A’araf SURA:
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And mentioning the Prophet’s mission (as all prophets) is to deliver God’s message, as stated in Al Ma’eda SURA:
مَا عَلَى الرَّسُولِ إِلا الْبَلاغُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا تَكْتُمُونَ
And after the message is delivered, everyone had the right \freedom to believe and follow or not, as stated in Al Bakara SURA:
لا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَدْ تَبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَى لا انْفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Back at that time, there were no radios, TVs, newspapers, e-mail, mail, satellite or Internet or any other mean of delivering a message (putting aside such an important message).
Back then and for many centuries, the most efficient way to deliver a message to a whole nation (in the shortest time) was going right to the top of that nation and delivering the message.
This is why massagers were sent directly to the top of the nations (governing rulers…etc.).
To each of the leaders, Prophet Mohammed said that: “if you do not follow us, then you will be held responsible for the people of the country not receiving the message”…
بعث رسول الإسلام برسائله إلى هؤلاء الأباطرة والملوك، يدعوهم إلى الإسلام: حملهم – إذا لم يستجيبوا للدعوة - إثم رعيتهم معهم. فقال لكسرى: "فإن لم تسلم فعليك إثم المجوس" وقال لقيصر: "فعليك إثم الإريسيين" وقال للمقوقس في مصر "فعليك إثم القبط". وهذا يؤكد المثل السائر في تلك الأزمان: الناس على دين ملوكهم. فأراد الإسلام أن يرد الأمور إلى نصابها، ويعيد للشعوب اعتبارها واختيارها، فلا يختارون هم بأنفسهم لأنفسهم. ولا سيما في هذه القضية الأساسية المصيرية، التي هي أعظم قضايا الوجود على الإطلاق: قضية دين الإنسان، الذي يحدد هويته، ويحدد غايته، ويحدد مصيره.
And to make his message clearer, The Prophet used to add the verses:
تعالى -: "قل يا أهل الكتاب تَعَالَوا إلى كلمة سواءٍ بيننا وبينكم ألا نعبدَ إلا الله ولا نشركَ به شيئًا ولا يتخذَ بَعْضُنا بعضًا أربابًا من دون الله فإن تَوَلَّوا فقولوا اشَهَدُوا بأنَّا مسلمون"
Meaning of: “We should unit O people of the Book (Christians, and Jews) to worship non but the ONE and not worship any other. And we (as mankind) are not to take one of us as a God\idol besides God himself. And if they (the people of the Book) do not follow, then state that we are Muslims (giving in only to God)”.
In other words, what Prophet Mohammed did was invite the head of Countries to embrace Islam, which in turn would give access to the population to reveal the message of God. And after that, give everyone the freedom to believe or not.
If the heads of states did not want to embrace Islam, then they are NOT to stop the publicizing of Islam (as a word of the Lord) in their countries. As in: “Let people decide for themselves and don’t stand in the way”.
Islam did not invent this, and Prophet Mohammad was not the first to do this…
When delivering a message for example… Moses did the same, he was ordered by God to go directly to the Pharaoh (the highest power in Egypt) and introduced God’s religion to him. If the Pharaoh had embraced the message of God, so would have all his land (Egypt).
And when protecting religion or what is right, the followers had to go to war. Just like what Prophets David and Soliman had to do in their time.
The concept is the same!
Even the first war that was between the united Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula and the Romans, It was because the Romans allied with the Ghasaasena (a nation in the north of the Arabian peninsula) and agreed to annihilate the Muslims once and for all. Their army was 200,000 strong.
Islam did from then on go to war with the Romans and Persians as a way to protect itself and to remove anyone who will stop muslims publicizing the message.
That is why now, there are no calls for war against the west to simply because the ways to deliver the message of Islam are many (internet, conferences, cultures mingling, travelling…etc.).
2- After winning the war…
When Muslim Armies went into each country, no one was forced into Islam (logically speaking), because if the sword was used then one of two results would have happened (over 1400 years):
· People annihilated because they do not want to follow it.
· Everyone turned into Islam.
And as a matter of fact, no nation was demolished on the hands of Muslims (unlike what happened to Muslims in Spain for example) nor did everyone embrace Islam (in the Islamic world there are millions of Christians, Jews, and others. 10 million Christians in Egypt alone).
The interesting thing is that even invaders whom invaded muslim countries over the past 1400 most of them have converted to Islam. For example, The Mongols whom took over Iraq, Iran and Syria… over the years they (the invaders) embraced Islam.
Now I ask you what of sword was on the invaders neck to make them embrace Islam?!!!!
The answer: “Non!”.
Actually, many accounts state that people did not embrace Islam except after years from when Muslims came into their countries. That is because only over time and persuasion did people believe in it! Not by the sword!
To conclude and summerize, the sword obviously was NOT used to subdue and force people into Islam!
Religiously, God and Prophet Mohmmed’s orders were clear: “ force is not to be used to make people embrace Islam”.
Historically and logically, Islam was spread because of something more powerful than a sword…it was the Sword of the Intellect... it was the message itself that made the difference!
The Qur’an says in Surah Nahl, chapter 16 verse 125:
“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.”
One might ask: “OK, I see your point, but do you want to convince us that no atrocities happen in the name of Islam?”
Of course there were shameful things that happened! after all , it has been 1400 years and humans are\were\will be involved. Not everyone is a good Muslim or human. What is wrong is wrong!
But, for sure Islam was NOT spread by the sword (as a belief), and this is what I hope I made clear in this post!
Shiekh Youssef Al Qaradawi once said: “A sword can conquer a land and invade a country. But, it can never conquer a heart”.
And that is exactly what Islam did to its followers!
- Islamic Research Foundation - IRF (South Africa)
- Various Readings
Mood: Veni vidi vici …