The rapid and extensive spread of Islam is among the facts about this religion that was, and still is, a subject of distortion by both Muslims and non-Muslims. One of the widely circulated myths in the media, especially now-a-days, is the myth that Islam was spread by the sword! In the global cultural and political atmosphere, after the events of September 11, Islam was portrayed to the world as a religion of terrorism and that it had spread through its campaign of “holy jihad”; in other words “holy terrorism”! These allegations are religiously and historically groundless.
Religiously, one of the explicit concepts in Islam is that there is no compulsion in religion:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.
Surah 2 Verse 256
The other fact is that Islam never declared the concept of converting others into the faith as part of the Muslims’ duties. On the contrary, Islam limited the Muslims’ duties in this respect to the balagh (conveyance):
If then they turn away, We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty is but to convey (the Message). …
Surah 42 Verse 48
In addition, Islam does not hold Muslims responsible for the deeds of the other nations:
Say: “Ye shall not be questioned as to our sins, nor shall we be questioned as to what ye do.”
Surah 34 Verse 25
Thus, religiously there is no need for Muslims to force others to embrace Islam!
Historically, there is no evidence to sustain the allegation that Islam was spread by the sword. On the contrary, countless evidence shows the opposite. Rationally, it was evident that the expansion of Islam was neither due to the power nor the number of Muslims. Within the first hundred years of Islam, it covered the largest area of the then-known world, whereas the other two powers failed in spreading their religions into the same areas – the Romans (Christianity) and the Persians (Zoroastrianism).
History shows that non-Muslim minorities lived peacefully in the Muslim world under Muslim rulers. Their rights were preserved and they had full freedom to practice their religion. In many regions they also played an active political,economic and cultural/intellectual role within the Islamic civilization. These religious minorities existed with their churches and synagogues in the Muslim world throughout 1400 years of Islam being the ruling doctrine, and they still exist up until today. In contrast, the Christians in Spain abolished all the rights of Muslims during the period of the Inquisition. Muslims as well as Jews at that time were expelled out of Spain, forced to convert into Christianity, or physically eliminated! Read the rest of this entry »