Freedom of Religions

Was Islam Spread by the Sword?

15The Review of Religions – February 2004 After Tashshhad (bearing witness to the Unity of Allah and the affirmation that Muhammad(sa) is His Messenger) and Ta u d h (seeking refuge from the accursed Satan) and reciting the S u r a h Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an), Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, recited the following verse of the Holy Qur’an: There should be no compulsion 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. (Ch.2: V.257) Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V stated: ‘Nowadays, the whole of the Western world is busy imputing that Islam is a religion of violence. It is because of the fundamentalist practising violence that J i h a d i o rganisations [organisations that mistakenly believe that Muslims should engage in a holy war and Was Islam Spread by the Sword? A Friday Sermon delivered by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V on 20 June 2003 at the Fazl Mosque London, transcribed and translated by Saleem Malik, published at its own responsibility by The Review of Religions. either ask non-Muslims to accept Islam or put them to the sword: Ed] are operating in the Islamic world. All Ahmadis are fully aware that this is slanderous and an indecent imputation on Islam. Islam is a religion that teaches love, a ffection and brotherhood. The stress that Islam places on the basic human rights cannot be found in any other religion. U n f o r t u n a t e l y, some extremist groups that have no relation with the true teachings of Islam, have, for the sake of the satisfaction of their own ego, created a dreadful image of Islam by associating Islam with Jihadi organisations. This has distorted the beautiful teachings of Islam. This is not a service to Islam. On the contrary, this has brought Islam into disrepute. The translation of the verse that I have recited from the Holy Qur’an just now is: There should be no compulsion 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. (Ch.2: V.257) Commenting on this verse, Hadhrat Musleh Maud, Khalifatul Masih II (ra) says: ‘It is strange that Islam is criticised for teaching that faith should be spread by force. Islam prepares Muslims to be ready for Jihad, as Allah says: ‘Fight in the way of Allah those who fight with you’ (Ch.2: V.191). On the other hand, Allah says There is no compulsion in re l i g i o n meaning that the injunction about fighting does not mean that the use of force is permitted to convert people to Islam. In fact, the order to fight is to remove the mischief and eliminate the wicked designs of the enemy. Had compulsion been permitted, how could the Holy Qur’an require the Muslims to fight and yet in the same Chapter enjoin that compulsion is not permitted in religion? Is it not but obvious that Islam does not permit the 16 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 use of force in matters of religion under any circ- umstance? Therefore, this verse not only clearly states that the use of compulsion is unlawful but also the placing of this verse at that particular point in the Holy Qur’ a n clearly shows that Islam is totally against compulsion. The allegation of Christian orientalists that Islam orders the use of sword to bring non- Muslims in the fold of Islam is totally untrue. The fact is that Islam is the first religion that presented the teaching to the world that everyone has full freedom of conscience and that there is no compulsion in religion.’ (Tafseer-e-Kabir, vol.2, pp 585 – 586) Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I( r a ) states: ‘T h e re is no compulsion in re l i g i o n ’ : There is a way of the prophets and there is a way of the kings. It is not the custom of the prophets to use force, oppression or compulsion. H o w e v e r, kings use both force and compulsion. The police can arrest someone who has committed a crime, but religion deters you from the intention of sin. Therefore, when man accepts the rule of religion, then there is no need for police to safeguard it. Allah the Almighty says that force and compulsion have no bearing with religion; therefore, do not coerce anyone because one who is not a believer at heart, is a hypocrite. According to S h a r i a (Law), hypocrites and non- believers are in the same pot. It is by mistake only that stories have been given currency that Islam was spread by the use of s w o r d . ‘It is also alleged that the Emperor Aurangzeb was cruel and forced people into Islam. This is a fallacious statement. The Chief of his army was a Hindu. A large part of his life was spent in fighting his brothers, even his death occurred when he was fighting Tana Shah. Also, Islam is not responsible for the actions of the kings. Muslims made a terrible mistake when they accepted the accusations of its 17 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 objectors even though Islam means sincere love and acceptance of truth with candour. That is why there is no compulsion in Islam.’ (Haqaiqul Furqan, vol.1, p.391) Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I( r a ) further comments: ‘In Kitabe Maghaazi (however unreliable it may be), we find no example whatsoever where the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) used force or employed the sword to bring into Islam any person, any family or any tribe. Sir William Muir clearly states that out of thousands not even one person was forced to become a Muslim in the city of Madinah and that, in Makkah as well, the attitude and behaviour of the Holy Prophet of Islam s a was exactly the same. When we read through the unbiased history, we cannot find even a single instance when the great emperors (Mahmood Ghaznavi, Sultan Salahuddin, Aurangzeb) ever forced a single person to accept Islam. On the other hand, people of other religions found favour with them on merit and held many prominent offices in the administration of these Muslim rulers. This is an abundant proof that with the exception of the sword being used for the defence of the nation, the sword was never employed for the spread of Islam. 18 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 TH E R E F O R E, I T I S A D U T Y O F T H E AH M A D I Y YA C O M M U N I T Y TO D AY TO L A U N C H A W O R L D W I D E CAMPAIGN TO PRESENT THE BEAUTIFUL TEACHINGS OF PEACE AND HARMONY THAT ISLAM COMMANDS ALL MU S L I M S TO F O L L O W. TH E M E M B E R S O F T H E COMMUNITY SHOULD EXPLAIN TO THE WORLD THAT ISLAM HAS BEEN THE DEFENDER OF JUSTICE AND EQUITY FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. ‘According to the Islamic laws, subjects of other faiths in Islamic empires had full religious freedom. The verse T h e re is no compulsion in re l i g i o n, (Ch.2: V. 2 5 7 ) is a clear proof that Islam allows full freedom in matters of faith and religion and enjoins Muslims to use compassion when dealing with non- believers. (Fasalul Khitab, second edition; vol. 1; pp.83-84) Therefore, it is a duty of the Ahmadiyya community today to launch a worldwide campaign to present the beautiful teachings of peace and harmony that Islam commands all Muslims to follow. The members of the community should explain to the world that Islam has been the defender of justice and equity from the very beginning. The events 1400 years ago fully testify to that assertion when the tribe of Banu Nadhir was exiled from Madinah. It included many children of the Ansar (Muslim inhabitants of Madinah). When the Muslims showed their intention to detain their descendants, the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) refrained them from their action on the very basis that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’. The background to how these children had begun to live amongst the Jews goes back to the pre-Islamic days of ignorance when some Arab families who had no male children used to pledge that if the next child were male they would make him a Jew. Thus such Arabs used to hand over their male children to Jewish families. So this is the beautiful teaching of Islam that once you hand over your own son to someone else and that someone else makes your descendant an adherent of another faith, you cannot take him back by force. Another unique example is what happened at the time of the peace treaty signed at Hudaibiyya. The Quraish laid down some strict and unfair conditions and as a result many Muslims felt humiliated and some even demonstrated their unwillingness to accept the treaty. But the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) had unshakable conviction that the victory would ultimately belong to Muslims because the All-Hearing, All-Knowing God had promised him that the victory would be his. 19 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 Allah had heard his supplications and the time of acceptance of these prayers was near. With absolute belief, the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) accepted all the conditions and taught his companions that the victory of Islam would not come by fighting wars, but by peace, goodwill and by acting on the true commandments of Allah. God willing, the victory of Islam in this age will also come about by following this principle. It is important that Muslims also understand clearly that although the eventual victory of Islam is certain, it will not come about by force. The victory of Islam will only come by the sheer blessings and Grace of Allah and by the Muslims following the com- mandments of Allah and by following the example and the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad(sa). As Allah explains in the verse that when you left the ways of error and joined the ways of Allah, it is as though you have got hold of a strong handle which knows no breaking. But merely uttering the words ‘I believe’ are not sufficient. You will only succeed if you firmly hold on to the commandments of Allah and His P r o p h e t( s a ). According to the prophecies of the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa), the Promised Messiah(as) is that strong handle today that presents to you the true interpretation of the Divine commandments. He is the one who reiterates to you the true teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa). You will only succeed if you act on these instructions. Because of their sad conditions, Muslims remained distressed for a long time and kept on waiting for the Messiah and Mahdi to appear so that they could join him and witness the victory of Islam. Those who truly cared for Islam kept on praying and supplicating. But, what happened when the advent of this Promised One took place? A large number refused to accept him simply because he had brought the message of peace, harmony and brotherhood. Then, in his commentary on Ch.2: V.257 (quoted at the beginning), Hadhrat Musleh Maud, Khalifatul Masih II( r a ) e x p o u n d s : 20 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 ‘In this verse, acceptance and belief means that one rejects the evil of Satan and accepts the command of Allah. Such a person is described as ‘ h a s s u rely grasped a strong handle which knows no bre a k i n g . ’ (Ch.2: V. 2 5 7 ) ‘ U rwa’ a l s o means a handle by which you hold a pan; a thing that can be trusted; anything towards which one turns at the time of need; that which is everlasting and cannot be diminished; and can also mean the best wealth. If the meanings are taken as a handle then this verse would mean that Allah the Almighty has compared faith to subtle contents contained in a pan and which is safe or preserved and someone has taken possession of this pan firmly by the handle. ‘Urwa’ in this verse also points to the fact that faith is what one uses as a support when one is afraid of falling, just as one holds on to a rope when climbing a ladder. Similarly, religion is also a support like that rope and one holds on to it when one is afraid of falling. ‘By stating ‘Urwa’ man is also informed that if he holds it firmly, it will help him at all times of difficulty. ‘Urwa’ also points to the fact that religion is the only really beneficial possession that will help both in this world and the next. All other relationships are temporary and are cut off one by one at the time of need. Although man certainly considers his relations and friends as his best companions yet ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ and they can show weakness and disloyalty at times. Only then he finds out that the real relations were those based on religion as they bestow the real blessings.” (Tafseer-e-Kabir, Vol.2; pp.587 –588) Addressing the Muslims, the Promised Messiah(as) says: ‘According to your belief, Messiah the son of Mary will descend from Heaven and joining forces with the Mahdi will start a war to convert everyone by force to Islam. 21 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 This preposterous belief brings Islam into disrepute. Where in the Holy Qur’an is it mentioned that compulsion is permitted in religion? On the c o n t r a r y, the Holy Qur’ a n says,‘There is no compulsion in religion’. (Ch.2: V. 2 5 7 ) . How, then, will Messiah the son of Mary be given the right to use force? That is to say to use force to such an extent that accept Islam or be killed, so much so that even the option of Jizya [(a tax imposed on non- Muslims guaranteeing their protection and not requiring them to be part of the Muslim army] will be cancelled? From which part or chapter of the Holy Qur’an is this contention supported? The whole of the Holy Qur’an keeps saying repeatedly that there is no compulsion in religion. It is evident that the wars that the Holy Prophet of Islam ( s a ) conducted against various adversaries were as a punishment for their crime of the massacre of Muslims in l a rge numbers and sending others into exile and inflicting cruelty upon them. As Allah the Almighty says, ‘Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged – and Allah indeed has power to help them’ (Ch.22: V. 4 0 ) – i . e . t h o s e Muslims against whom the infidels are fighting are permitted to confront them because they have been oppressed and Allah is Mighty and has the power to help them. Then, there were those wars that were fought as defensive wars. Either the enemies were advancing with aggressive designs to exter- minate Islam or they were using torment and inquisition on Muslims in their countries to stop the spread of Islam. The wars were fought with such enemies for protection, or for obtaining independence in defence or to create freedom in a country. Except for the three scenarios mentioned above, neither the Holy Prophet of I s l a ms a nor the revered Khalifas of the Holy Prophet(sa) fought any wars. In fact, Islam s u ffered inquisition and persecution at the hands of 22 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 foreign nations with such patience that you would not find another example amongst other people. ‘What sort of persons would then be Jesus the Messiah and the Mahdi who would start the killing instantly so much so that he would refuse to accept Jizya even from the people of the Book; and would thus abrogate the verse of the Holy Qur’an which enjoins, ‘Until they pay the Jizya (tax) with their own hand submissively and acknowledge their sub- jection.’ ( C h . 9 : V. 2 9 ) . W h a t sort of supporter of Islam would he be that he would even abrogate the verses of the Holy Qur’an that had not been abrogated in the times of the Holy Prophet ( s a ) and despite this revolution the issue of Khatme Nabuwwat would be unaffected? In this age, after 1300 years of the prophethood have passed and Islam itself has been divided into 73 sects, the duty of the Messiah should be to win the hearts not by the use of sword but by arguments and persuasion. His duty should be to eradicate with true proofs the false beliefs of crucifixion instead of going around smashing the golden, s i l v e r, bronze or wooden crucifixes. If you use compulsion, then your force only testifies that you have no convincing argument about your truth. Whenever any fool or tyrant runs out of arguments, he resorts to the gun and the sword. But a religion that needs sword for its propagation can never be from God Almighty. If you do not refrain from such Jihad and, in anger, call the righteous by the names of impostors and heretics, then I end my dis- course with the words, – ‘Say! “O ye disbelievers! I worship not that which you worship”’ (Ch 109: V.2-3).’ (Tafseer, Hadhrat Masih Maud(as), Vol. 1; pp. 747-748) The Promised Messiah(as) further says: ‘Whatever Allah the Almighty does, He does for the sake of teaching and training. Since the period of glory lingers on, 23 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 and Muslim power and glory had prevailed over a long period and their conquests stretched to the far corners of the world, some fools began to think that Islam was spread by force although its teaching is T h e re is no compulsion in religion (Ch.2: V.257). To prove its truth, Allah the Almighty sent his Khatamul Khulafa (the Most Perfect of Vicegerents) and by giving him the task of ‘Ya d h a ’ u l Harb’ (ending wars) gave him the second task of ‘ L e Yudhhirahu ‘aladdeen-e- kullihi’ (that He may make it prevail over every other religion Ch.9: V.33). In other words he would bring about the victory of Islam by evidence and arguments and would remove fighting and wars. Those who are waiting for a blood-thirsty Mahdi and blood-thirsty Messiah are in great error’. (Al-Hakam, vol. 6; No. 24; 10 July 1902; p.3) Again, the Promised Messiah(as) states: ‘There should be freedom in matters of faith. Allah the Almighty says that, ‘There is no compulsion in re l i g i o n . ’ (Ch.2: V.257) You will not find such a sentence anywhere in the Holy Bible. People have misunderstood the true cause of wars. If war was the commandment, then the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) wasted thirteen years of his life when he did not lift the sword once. The permission is granted to fight only those who fight with you. It has never been the principle of Islam to initiate wars. Allah Himself has explained the reason for war by saying ‘Dhulimu’ (because they have been wro n g e d Ch.22: V. 4 0 ) . When Allah saw that His people are oppressed and persecuted, only then did He permit them to fight in self- defence. Allah never declared that now the time for the sword has come and you should convert people to Islam by force. Instead, Allah enjoined that since you are victims of oppression, you should fight back. In fact, all laws of the world permit victims of 24 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 oppression to fight for their life’. (Al-Badr, Vol. 2; No. 1-2; 23 January 1903) In this context, the Promised Messiah(as) further elaborates: ‘The opinion of Nawab Siddiq Hassan that in the time of the Messiah, people will be compelled to become Muslims, is incorrect. God Almighty says, There is no compulsion in re l i g i o n. (Ch.2: v.257) Yes, once, Christians used to use force to convert others to C h r i s t i a n i t y. But ever since the advent of Islam, Islam has been against the use of force. Only those who possess no Divine sign resort to force. But Islam is an ocean of Heavenly Signs. No prophet ever showed as many miracles as were shown by our Holy Prophet(sa). The miracles of the earlier prophets died with their death, but the miracles of our P r o p h e t( s a ) are still being manifested today and they will continue till the Judgement Day. Whatever is being demonstrated in my support are, in fact, the miracles of the Holy Prophet(sa). Where are those priests or Jews or other people who can show comparable miracles. They will never, never, never come forward! They will never be able to show even one miracle even if they die trying. Their gods are artificial. They do not follow a true God. Islam is an ocean of miracles. Islam has never used any compulsion nor has there been any need for it’. (Appendix to Haqiqatul Wahy; pp. 35-36) The Promised Messiah( a s ) s t a t e s further: ‘In their foolish ignorance, these illiterate clerics promptly declare that Islam was spread by the sword. The obtuse Christian clergy is also wedded to these doubtful ideas. There can be no bigger lie than to accuse a religion whose first teaching happens to be There is no compulsion in re l i g i o n. (Ch.2: V.257) of compulsion and the use of force. The battles that our beloved Prophet(sa) and his companions had to fight were purely to defend themselves and to create peace. Those who pick 25 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004 up the sword to stop the faith have to be stopped by the sword’. (Tiriyaqul Qaloob, p.16) The Promised Messiah( a s ) continues: ‘The true Muslims of the past never believed in the use of sword for propagating Islam. Instead, Islam spread all over the world because of its own attributes. Therefore those who call themselves Muslims, and know only that Islam should be spread by the use of sword, do not know of the beauties of Islam. Their actions are no better than the actions of beasts’. ( Tiriyaqul Qaloob, footnote p.167) Therefore, it is a duty of every Ahmadi today that he should take this message to the whole world that the true teaching of Islam is the one that has been given to us by the Promised Messiah(as). They should take the message of love, peace and brotherhood; and declare to the whole that Islam was not spread by the sword but by the excellence of its teachings. Tell those who are associating Islam with the sword that they are following the wrong course. Explain to them and pray for them because they come in the category of ‘Inna hum La Ya’alamoon’ – Verily, they do not know. It is the crying need of the time to convince the world that Islam spread during the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) because of his prayers and supplications; and in this age, God willing, this will happen only by presenting the true teachings of Islam as expounded by the Promised Messiah( a s ), the true devotee and servant of the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa). 26 Was Islam Spread by the Sword? The Review of Religions – February 2004