Does Islam Force Itself On Others?

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Islam

The Accusation

One of the most common, yet groundless, accusations being made against Islam is that it forces itself on others. The picture presented is that if someone does not stop Islam, it will forcefully convert everyone, even at gunpoint.

Here is one of the verses commonly quoted by those who make their living propagating this idea:

 

"Ye will find others who desire that they should have security from you,
and security from their own folk. So often as they are returned to hostility
they are plunged therein. If they keep not aloof from you nor offer you peace
nor hold their hands, then take them and kill them wherever ye find them.
Against such We have given you clear warrant." Quran 4:91

 

This verse is used as evidence that Muslims are required to kill anyone who does not accept Islam. That would mean that any Muslim who does not either forcefully convert or kill every non-Muslim he sees is not practicing Islam. This ridiculous idea is childishly easy to refute. But before we do that, let's do a brief comparison.

A Comparison

Let's see what the Bible has to say about violence:

In Deuteronomy 7:1-3: "When the Lord your God brings you into the land... and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them..."

In Deuteronomy 20:10-17: "When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, then lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves."

In Deuteronomy 20:16-17: "However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them..."

In Numbers 31:17-18: "Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

Jesus is reported to have said in Luke 19:27: "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"

Again, Jesus supposedly said in Matthew 10:34: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

The verses in the Bible are much more violent than any of the verses that can be found in the Qur'an. Can you find a single verse in the Qur'an which says: "Show them no mercy!" or "Do not leave anything that breathes!" or "Kill all the non-virgin women!"? Yet, ironically, most of the people who quote verses from the Qur'an about violence consider themselves Christians and believe in the Bible. Why do they ignore their own Scripture and apply a double standard of hypocrisy?

However, the fair Christian will say: "These verses must be read in context." I agree, and the same opportunity of contextualization should be given to the Qur'an as well.

Searching for Context

To understand the context of any verse in the Qur'an relating to violence, you only need to do two things:

 

1. Identify the pronouns
2. Read the verses before and after the verse in question

 

This simple technique is so blatantly obvious; it requires a very special "education" to forget to apply it.

Let's identify the pronouns in the verse we quoted: "...seize them and kill them wherever you find them ..." (Qur'an, 4:91). There is only one pronoun, "them," used three times, and it's pretty clear that it refers to the same group of people. This group of people referred to as "them" can only be identified if we look at the verses before and after.

Looking at the preceding verses we learn the following:

Verse 88 tells us that the pronoun "them" is referring to hypocrites who pretend to be Muslim on the outside but are actually spies and informants.
Verse 89 tells us that if these hypocrites turn and fight you, then you are allowed to fight them back.
Verse 90 tells us that Muslims are not allowed to touch anyone who does not want to fight.

In this example, it becomes crystal clear that "them" is referring to a group of hypocrites who are trying to harm and kill the Muslims. It would have been sufficient in this case to simply quote more of the verse: "So if they neither withdraw, nor offer you peace, nor restrain themselves from fighting you, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them: We give you clear authority against these type of people." (Qur'an, 4:91)

Proof from the Qur'an

There is not a single verse in the Qur'an which says to harm another person because of their not being a Muslim. On the contrary, there are several verses which talk about respecting non-Muslims.

To further clarify the matter about forced conversion to Islam, let's look at these verses:

 

"Let there be no compulsion in religion:
Truth stands out clear from Error:
whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah
hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold,
that never breaks. And Allah heareth and
knoweth all things.
" (Qur'an, 2:256)

 

 

 

"Had your Lord wanted, all the people on earth would have believed. So will you force people to believe?" (Qur'an, 10:99)

 

 

 

"So warn them: your only task is to warn, you're not supposed to force them."
(Qur'an, 88:21-22)

 

 

 

"He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone
who has not fought you for your faith and driven you out of your homes,
God loves the just." (Qur'an, 60:8)

 

Could the Qur'an be any clearer on this issue?

Proof from the Prophet of Islam

The second source in Islam, after the Qur'an, are the statements made by the Prophet Muhammad . Let's see what he said about non-Muslims and how to force them to join Islam:

"Whoever kills an innocent non-Muslim will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise." [Bukhārī]

How could this statement possibly be compatible with the ridiculous idea that Islam forces itself on others? Instead, it makes it clear that no non-Muslim is allowed to be harmed because of what they believe.

The Historical Evidence

Lastly, in the 1,400 years of Muslim history; from the living example of the Prophet until now, when there are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, where do we find this forced conversion being practiced? Nowhere.

On the contrary, we find throughout history, Muslims being the targets of forced conversion, particularly to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades, and to Atheism during the Communist era of the 20th century.

Conclusion

So the question about whether Islam forces itself on others has been addressed. Now the question remains, what can we do to prevent Muslims from being forced to leave their faith?

Source: SuhaibWebb - Mustafa Umar


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  16 Comments   Comment

  1. Adegbite Shakirat from Nigeria

    Islam truly a religion of peace.The truth is clear and let the good

    news spread fast.

    Jazak

  2. ahmad javed from india

    This article is exceptional!Let this truth be spread far and wide, to non-Muslims and of course to those Muslims who are misguided, seem to be losing their faith; the only sutviving faith in its original form, the faith of peace and universal justice with no biases except between the righteous and the evil, the innocent and the guilty.We must make ourselves understand that an enemy has to be direct and hostile and persiastent to be dealt with strongly, it cannot be generalised through jargon of words and skewed logic.It all becomes so very simple by merely following the verses from the Quran and sunnah that you made quotes of.I think in the present time of propaganda culture in the feudal world, the best way to spread the message is silently through our deeds, our characters and our behaviour.For this, we should also be armed with modern education and practical skills which would broaden our mind to understand our faith in true spirit and not merely in out of contest text, often for fulfilment of our wishful objectives.

    Thank you very much for presenting the truth in a simple but forceful manner. My Dua with you.

  3. Fatma Muslimah from Nil

    Amazing post!!!! loved itttt!! JazakumAllah khair.

  4. Mustapha Adedokun Lawal from Nigeria

    I agree that Muslims should not be converting to Christianity. But let's face the reallity, man is lazy we want the easiest thing to do. In chritianity no compulsory fasting, no special cleaning of the body and soul ect. at it is in Islam. Let the lazy ones get away if they want. At least Allah says He guides whom He will aright. Mohammed has come and gone. His followers remain blessed.

  5. Afolabi Jibrill from Ghana

    Great article. We need more of this types to educate those who wants to learn.Seeking knowledge is from cradle to grave. Young,old and any can learn when they want to. Materials like this should be made available to those you need them.For those who still may have negative thoughts, more articles available to them may give them the necessary education to erase those negative ideas. Thanks and God bless you all.

  6. Musa Muhammad Dandikko from Country

    Alhamdu lil Lah. This article has refuted allegation by non Muslims that Islam forces itself on people of other faiths even at gun point. People of other religions should know that when Islamic Empire was established after the Prophet (SAW, many non muslims lived in the Empire under muslims protection

  7. Moeen from Australia

    Very precise, purposeful and good length.

    Knowledge is the best vindication against slander.

    May Allah reward the writer and may we have more of the knowledgable people amongst us working more to spread the knowledge.

    The truth is the perpetrators spread lies and claim to be vicitms themselves. It's age old technique the powerful have used while assaulting the weak.

  8. Bashir from Tanzania

    Great write up. BUT I really wish the killers of innocent men, women and children of ALL faiths could stop doing so in the name of ISLAM. I pray from my heart.. .in so doing they "lose their battle" whatever they call it.

  9. kazeem from Nigeria

    This is a very informative article. Many thanks to the writer.

  10. Akhlak Khan from India

    That is very true Islam does not force itself on others. On the contrary i see many non muslim brothers and sisters accepting Islam by their own will.

    I have 1 example in my family(my brother in law was previously a nonbeliever and now he is a practising muslim from 5 years).

    3 of my friends have also converted with their own will and are better practising Muslims than me.

  11. aaa from canada

    Just like people words are twisted and turned in family affairs which

    lead to fights and break ups....just imagine how our Almighty's words

    are being twisted and used to one's ends.

    At least within the human fights , people confront and sometimes

    culprit is found and the matter cleared...but for Almighty,He cant

    come down each time to clear HIs Words in the Holy Koran....He is

    bound to show his anger in different way, maybe thru natural

    calamities !!!

  12. Dr.Shafiq Ahmed from Kashmir

    Assama alaikum, The write-up is precise and purposeful.May Allah help the writer in such endeavors in future also.

  13. sevenseasofhappiness from U.S

    Well, I don't believe you can 'force' a person to believe anything, they can verbally agree with you but what's in their heart could be entirely different. It is rather stupid to 'force' anyone to believe in anything or to claim that anyone can 'force' another to accept it. So, it's just a stupid claim anyway.

    Also, people take things out of context generally. But regarding Islam, it is important to note that some ayahs can be understood literally and some of the meanings are not so apparent and require seeking people of understanding, i.e those who are qualified in islamic jurisprudence, scholars in the science of the Quran and ahaadith.

  14. Mufiydah from usa

    It is not islam the force people to practice but it is muslim wih due respect to ignorant that do not know any better they are the ones that force islam on people only out of ignorance. of course