By Danish Hameed, New Age Islam
18 February 2019
It is a common misconception with some
non-Muslims that Islam would not have millions of adherents all over the world,
if it had not been spread by the use of force.
The following points will make it clear,
that far from being spread by the sword, it was the inherent force of truth,
reason and logic that was responsible for the rapid spread of Islam.
Islam has always given respect and freedom
of religion to all faiths. Freedom of
religion is ordained in the Quran itself:
be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the
The noted historian De Lacy O’Leary
wrote: “History makes it clear however,
that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing
Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most
fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.”
The famous historian, Thomas Carlyle, in
his book Heroes and Hero worship, refers to this misconception about the spread
of Islam: “The sword indeed, but where will you get your sword? Every new
opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one; in one man’s head
alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it,
there is one man against all men. That
he takes a sword and tries to propagate with that will do little for him. You must get your sword! On the whole, a
thing will propagate itself as it can.”
If Islam was spread by the sword, it was
the sword of intellect and convincing arguments. It is this sword that conquers the hearts and
minds of people. The Quran says in this
the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a
way that is best.”
The Facts Speak For Themselves
Indonesia is the country that has the largest number of Muslims in the
world, and the majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. But, no Muslim army ever went to Indonesia or
Malaysia. It is an established
historical fact that Indonesia entered Islam not due to war, but because of its
moral message. Despite the disappearance
of Islamic government from many regions once ruled by it, their original
inhabitants have remained Muslims.
Moreover, they carried the message of truth, inviting others to it as
well, and in so doing endured harm, affliction and oppression. The same can be said for those in the regions
of Syria and Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, North Africa, Asia, the Balkans and in Spain. This shows that the effect of Islam on the
population was one of moral conviction, in contrast to occupation by western
colonialists, finally compelled to leave lands whose peoples held only memories
of affliction, sorrow, subjugation and oppression.
Muslims ruled Spain (Andalusia) for about 800 years. During this period the Christians and Jews
enjoyed freedom to practice their respective religions, and this is a
documented historical fact.
Christian and Jewish minorities have
survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine,
Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all have significant Christian and Jewish
Muslims ruled India for about a thousand years, and therefore had the
power to force each and every non-Muslim of India to convert to Islam, but they
did not, and thus more than 80% of the Indian population remains non-Muslim.
Similarly, Islam spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. And likewise no Muslim army was ever
dispatched to the East Coast of Africa.
An article in Reader’s Digest ‘Almanac’, yearbook 1986, gives the
statistics of the increase of the percentage of the major religions of the
world in half a century from 1934 to 1984.
This article also appeared in The Plain Truth magazine. At the top was Islam, which increased by
235%, while Christianity had increased by 47%.
During this fifty-year period, there was no “Islamic conquest” yet Islam
spread at an extraordinary rate.
Today the fastest growing religion in America and Europe is Islam. The Muslims in these lands are a
minority. The only sword they have in
their possession is the sword of truth.
It is this sword that is converting thousands to Islam.
Islamic law protects the privileged status of minorities, and that is why
non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. Islamic law also allows non-Muslim minorities
to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the
minorities themselves. The life and
property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether they
are Muslims or not.
It is clear, therefore, that Islam did not
spread by the sword. The “sword of
Islam” did not convert all the non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries. In India, where Muslims ruled for 800 years,
they are still a minority. In the
U.S.A., Islam is the fastest growing religion and has over six million
In his book The World’s Religions, Huston
Smith discusses how the prophet Muhammad granted freedom of religion to the
Jews and Christians under Muslim rule:
The Prophet had a document drawn up in
which he stipulated that Jews and Christians “shall be protected from all
insults and harm; they shall have an equal right with our own people to our
assistance and good offices,” and further, “they shall practice their religion
as freely as the Muslims.”
Smith points out that Muslims regard that
document as the first charter of freedom of conscience in human history and the
authoritative model for those of every subsequent Muslim state.
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