The Holy Qur'an

Commentary on a verse of the Holy Quran

Commentary on a verse of the Holy Quran 251. There should be no compul- sion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. The injunction to make special sacrifices in the cause of religion and to fight the enemies of Islam who had transgressed against the Faithful was likely to cause the misunderstanding that Allah desired Muslims to use force for propagating their religion. The verse under comment removes this misunderstanding. The object for which Muslims have been commanded to take up arms against the disbelievers is not to force them to accept Islam, but only to check mischief and put a stop to persecution. The verse enjoins Muslims in the clearest and strongest of words not to resort to force for converting non-Muslims to Islam. In the face of this teaching embodied in the words There should be no compulsion in religion, it is the height of injustice to accuse Islam of countenancing the use of force for the propagation of its teaching. The verse not only gives the commandment that in no case is force to REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 2 be resorted to for the purpose of converting non-Muslims to Islam, but also gives the reason why it should not be used, saying: Surely, right has become distinct from wrong, i.e., the true path has become distinct from the wrong one and therefore there is no justification for using force. Islam is a manifest truth. Anyone who sincerely desires to see this truth can easily see it; but if there is a person who does not desire to see it, no force can possibly make him do so. All that we have to do is to point out its beauties to non-Muslims; it rests with them to accept it or reject it as they like. Faith as defined by Islam consists in believing in a thing with the heart or the mind and expressing that belief with the tongue. No force on earth can bring about that change. The person who sticks to true faith and shuns false ones is here represented as laying hold of a strong ‘urwa’ which word, as shown above, gives a number of meanings. Taking it in the first-mentioned sense, i.e., the handle of a mug, etc. the Quran compares Islam to the pure life-giving liquid which is put into a mug, and the believer is represented as taking fast hold of the handle thereof. Taking the word in the second sense, i.e., anything which is grasped and clung to for support, the true faith is represented as something on which complete reliance can be placed in all circumstances. If one adheres to it, there is no fear of one’s stumbling or falling down. Following the third significance, i.e., a pasture that remains green even in time of drought, Islam has been likened to a grazing ground the herbage of which is everlasting. There can be no spiritual famine in Islam. Following the last mentioned meaning of ‘urwa’ Islam is represented as a store-house of spiritual treasures that are without equal. ********************** A believer continues in the security of his faith so long as he does not shed blood unjustly. (The Holy Prophet)