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11 October 2014

There is no Compulsion in Religion

"There is no Compulsion in Religion"  - Quran 2:256

Meaning, Do not force anyone to become Muslim, for Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidence are plain and clear.

Among the many decisive pieces of evidence in this regard are the following.  God says:

Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Truth has been made clear from error.  Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks.  And God hears and knows all things.” - Quran 2:256

God says:

If it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed.  Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?” - Quran 10:99

God says:

So if they dispute with you, say ‘I have submitted my whole self to God, and so have those who follow me.’  And say to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and to the unlearned: ‘Do you also submit yourselves?’  If they do, then they are on right guidance.  But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message.  And in God’s sight are all of His servants.” - Quran 3:20

God says:

The Messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the Message.” - Quran 5:99

It is important to note that these last two verses were revealed in Medina.  This is significant, since it shows that the ruling they gave was not just contingent on the Muslims being in Mecca in a state of weakness.

Some people might be wondering that if Islam indeed advocates such an approach, then what is all this we hear about jihad?  How can we explain the warfare that the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, and his Companions waged against the pagans?  The answer to this is that jihad in Islamic Law can be waged for a number of reasons, but compelling people to accept Islam is simply not one of them.  As for conversion, this is to be done peacefully by disseminating the Message with the written and spoken word.  There is no place for the use of weapons to compel people to accept Islam.

The Prophet, said in his letter to the Roman governor Heraclius:

Link ► Hercules (Rome Emperor) and Questions about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

I invite you to accept Islam.  If you accept Islam, you will find safety.  If you accept Islam, God will give you a double reward.  However, if you turn away, upon you will be the sin of your subjects.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

Once people have heard the Message without obstruction or hindrance and the proof has been established upon them, then the duty of the Muslims is done.  Those who wish to believe are free to do so and those who prefer to disbelieve are likewise free to do so.

Non-Muslims under Muslim rule must be allowed to remain on their own faith and must be allowed to practice the rights of their faith, though they will be expected to respect the laws of the land.

Had the purpose of jihad been to force the unbelievers to accept Islam, the Prophet PBUH would never have commanded the Muslims to refrain from hostilities if the enemy relented.  He would not have prohibited the killing of women and children.  However, this is exactly what he did.

An Incident in a battle

During a battle, the Prophet PBUH saw people gathered together.  He dispatched a man to find out why they were gathered.  The man returned and said: “They are gathered around a slain woman.”  So God’s Messenger said:

She should not have been attacked!”  Khalid b. al-Walid was leading the forces, so he dispatched a man to him saying: “Tell Khalid not to kill women or laborers”. (Sunan Abi Dawud)

Therefore, even in the heat of battle against a hostile enemy, the only people who may be attacked are those who are actually participating in the fighting.

Had the purpose of jihad been to force the unbelievers to accept Islam, the rightly guided Caliphs would not have prohibited the killing of priests and monks who refrained from fighting.  However, this is exactly what they did.  When the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, sent an army to Syria to fight the aggressive Roman legions, he went out to give them words of encouragement.  He said: “You are going to find a group of people who have devoted themselves to the worship of God (i.e. monks), so leave them to what they are doing.”

Instruction before battle

Before engaging in a battle, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH used to instruct his soldiers:

  • “Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elderly or sick person.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  • “Do not practice treachery or mutilation. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food.” (Al-Muwatta)
  • “If one fights his brother, (he must) avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam.” (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
  • “Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship.” (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  • “Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle.” (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)

Treatment of a prisoner

A prisoner should not be coerced into renouncing his religion. He should be invited to Islam and given the choice to accept or reject the call.

O Prophet! Say to those who are captives in your hands: ‘If Allah finds any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you and He will forgive you. For Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.” - Quran 8:70

Muslims are ordered to treat prisoners of war kindly. Prisoners cannot be abused on account of the fact that they were fighting against the Muslims. There is no Islamic law that permits punishment for a prisoner because of his faith.


It's clear that a Muslim cannot force another human being to accept Islam; in fact, Islam instructs to the believers

"O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy." Quran 2:208

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► Was Islam Spread By The Sword?
► Behind The Scenes of The World Wars
► Picture Perfect : Silence is a war crime
► What Does a Real Terrorist look Like ?
► Human Rights in Islam

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