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Islamic Ideology (29 Nov 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Let There Be No Compulsion in Religion: Quran Makes the Truth Stand out Clear from Error



By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

29 November 2018

The following three verses of the Quran complement each other:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا

(5:3) This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

(2:256) Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

(33:40) Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.

It makes sense for Muhammad (pbuh) to be the last of the prophets only if through his prophetic mission, Allah has perfected His religion, and made Truth stand out clear from Error for all time to come. If there was any chance of Truth once again becoming unclear from Error, Allah would have provided for another prophet to come and complete the task of making the truth become clear from error, until which time, He would have allowed compulsion in religion, since we could not invite people to Allah’s religion based on reason alone, as long as the Truth was not clear from error. We therefore understand the mission of the last prophet Muhammad was to give us the perfect Book the Quran, which makes the Truth stand out clear from Error, and to demonstrate through his mission that no compulsion in religion is required. That his mission was not to compel people to Allah’s religion, is the message reinforced at every stage of his mission. Consider the following verses:

(109:6) To you (peaceful rejecter of Islam) be your Way, and to me mine.

(10:99) If it had been thy Lord´s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!

2:272. It is not required of thee (O Messenger), to set them on the right path, but Allah sets on the right path whom He pleaseth.

To summarise, the following are the essential characteristics of the mission of the last Messenger of Allah:

1.   That the last messenger was sent when the people, through the efforts of the earlier prophets, had been civilized to an extent where they could distinguish between right and wrong based on their cumulative civilisational experience and reason. This was not the case with the earlier people since the moral principles are both counter intuitive and against the pleasure-seeking nature of man. Mankind has been civilized over a long period (seventy thousand years according to one estimate) through progressive revelations and continuous stream of prophets averaging 50 to 60 contemporaneous prophets spread across the world at any point in time upto the last prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or thereabouts.

2.   The progressive revelations on completion must result in perfecting the religion of Allah and giving it complete shape for all the divine guidance needed by man for success in this world and in the Hereafter.

3.   Truth must be made distinct from Error since there are no more prophets to come for guidance. This also obviates the need for compulsion in religion since reason alone is enough. Mankind thus achieved its full potential as a moral agent having been given complete freedom in the matter of making moral choices.

Also read: Understanding the Religion of Allah through the Ages


 If Truth stands out clear from Error, does it mean that all the people will accept the Truth?

No, it does not mean that all the people will accept the Truth, because only those will accept the Truth who incline towards the truth and those who deliberately reject the Truth will stray away from the Truth. We know this from our experience.

(10:100) No person can believe, except by the will of Allah, and He will place doubt (or obscurity) on those who will choose not to understand.

(101) Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and on earth"; but neither Signs nor Warners profit those who choose to believe not.

For more on the subject, read: Who Are Those Who Will Believe And Those Who Will Not?

The meaning of verse 256 is quite clear and its applicability both to the times of the prophet and beyond, until eternity. To consider it inapplicable to the Prophet’s times would mean that mankind was not yet ready to receive the last prophet and the Quran (last Book), and to consider it abrogated would mean that Truth has once again become unclear from Error and prophet Muhammad’s mission was a failure (Nauzobillah).  The Quran by itself is enough to make clear the meaning of the verses and the relevant context. The three cited verses taken together complement each other making the meaning of each verse clear and providing the complete context. Having considered the three cited verses together, it is unthinkable to consider any of the three verses without the other two. For example, how can Muhammad (pbuh) be the last prophet and Allah’s religion be still incomplete and the Truth not distinct from Error? How can man become a complete moral agent if there is compulsion in religion? How can man choose the Truth if it is not made clear from Error? The three cited verses are possible only in the last Book and not in any earlier scriptures after which there is no more any need to send more messengers.

The Dissenting Voices of Scholars

While the Quran is enough by itself for complete guidance, the Muslims have created many sources of misguidance. Some Quranic exegetes state that Qur'an 2:256 has been abrogated by the following verses:

O Prophet! Strive against the Kuffara and the Munafiqin! Be harsh with them.... (9:73)

O ye who believe! Fight those of the kuffar who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you.... (9:123)

Say unto those of the wondering Arabs who were left behind: Ye will be called against a folk of mighty prowess to fight them until they surrender.... (48:16)

The verses regarding fighting have only one objective and that is to end the religious persecution practiced by the persecutors among the people. The objective of the fighting was not to compel the people to accept Islam nor is these verses applicable to those who had rejected Islam but were not hostile. This topic is discussed in detail in my articles:

1.   The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 4): The Medinian Period

2.    The Much discussed and debated Medinian Verses Relating to Fighting

The exegetes, who argue otherwise, do so without a basis and against the clear meaning of the verses. They “interpret” or in other words take meaning that deviates from the clear literal meaning of the verses. They distort the clear message of the Quran. Exegetes who take such liberties with the Quran must be shunned.

Context of Revelation

Some scholars try to confuse the issue by citing inappropriate context of revelation to dilute the unmistakable meaning of the verse. The various opinions of the Qur'anic commentators regarding the circumstances surrounding the revelation (Shan-i-Nuzul) of Qur'an 2:256: a. the revelation blocked an Ansar woman from forcing her Jewish boy to convert to Islam; b. the revelation blocked an Ansar father from forcing his two Christian sons to convert to Islam; c. the revelation permitted a member of the People of the Book to retain his religion.

It is not surprising that the verse prevented several attempts at compelling people to accept Islam. This is the effect of the revelation of the verse and not its cause. It is poor scholarship to confuse the effect with cause! The context of revelation as explained, is the fact that Allah has perfected the religion, made Truth stand out clear from error, which obviates any need for compulsion. It also achieves Allah’s purpose of giving full moral agency to man to enable him to become Allah’s viceregent on the Earth if he so chooses.

Some Scholars Prevaricate

Shah Wali Ullah appears to have said on one occasion that the application of such a verse (2:256) is not confined to the incidents cited as the context. "On the contrary, the verse should be held to convey the commandment contained therein, generally" is what he is believed to have said. The same Shah Wali Ullah who, after giving the normal meaning, adds:

“That is to say, the reasoned guidance of Islam has become manifest. Therefore, so to speak, there is no compulsion, although, in sum, there may be coercion!”

Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan in Fath al-Bayan:

“... one should not say of a person convened to Islam under the shadow of the sword, that he was compelled to the Faith for "there is no compulsion in religion".”

He appears to be saying that although a person has been brought under Islam by the sword, yet there is no compulsion in religion!

It is unbecoming of any scholar of Islam to indulge in such double-speak when the meaning is very clear.

Ahadith as the Source of Misguidance

Ibn al-Arabi in his work Ahkam al-Qur'an, declares dogmatically that to compel to the truth is part of the Faith, on the authority of a hadith: "I have been commanded to fight people till they recite the declaration of faith ...", which he considers to have been derived from the Qur'anic verse: "And fight them until persecution is no more and religion is for Allah alone." (8:39; 2:193)

Another construction ... confines the verse to the People of the Scriptures who submitted to the Muslims and agreed to pay Jizyah (poll-tax) but excludes the polytheists from its scope. In the case of the latter, only two alternatives are said to be open - Islam or the sword - on the authority of al-Shabi, al-Hasan, Qatadah and al-Dahhaq. 

This is sheer nonsense as discussed in my articles:

1.    The Ahadith That Distort The Message Of The Quran - Part I

2.    The Ahadith That Distort The Message Of The Quran – Part Two

3.   Ibn-Arabi misinterprets verses 8:39, 2:193 and against their clear literal meaning as explained in my article: The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Qu’ran (Concluding Part) Summary

The Ahadith, the Shan-e-Nuzul and the commentaries of the past scholars are all sources of misguidance. To correctly understand the Quran, the Quran is enough by itself. The Ahadith especially are a body of misleading literature falsely attributing to the Prophet (pbuh) what he could never have said and must be shunned. The fact that the six “authentic” books of Ahadith are by contemporaneous scholars of Persian origin is suggestive that the compilation was a political project for political reasons. The falsehoods are perpetuated by the Madhab which lays great emphasis on Taqleed or blind following of the rulings of past scholars. Any Madhab of Taqlid goes against the Quran, which rejects the argument of Taqlid from the disbelievers. It is the Quran that makes the Truth stand out clear from Error and not any Hadith or scholar.

Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/naseer-ahmed,-new-age-islam/let-there-be-no-compulsion-in-religion--quran-makes-the-truth-stand-out-clear-from-error/d/117014

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  • lets make it simple.

    "There is no compulsion in relgion but humiliation" is this make clear the treatment of not agree with Mouhmmad self declared paigamber and uttered Quran.

    By Aayina - 12/15/2018 4:26:45 PM

  • Prayer, fasting, Hajj, zakat, belief in Allah and the Day Of Judgment are the hygiene factors.

    The pillars of Islam or what sustains Islam are not the hygiene factors that make one a Muslim but:

    1. Pursuit of the truth or becoming a siddiq
    2. Rendering absolute secular justice.
    3. Striving in the cause of Allah to end all kinds of injustice and oppression.
    4. Spending in Charity which includes forbearance, forgiveness, taking care of the weak.

    These are covered in my article:

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/9/2018 11:45:00 PM

  • Who is asking you not to follow the truth or the five pillars or whatever? You are the one who is twisting matters.


    Asking you to follow/submit is not compulsion. You are free to follow/submit or rebel. The choice is yours.


    You are being warned of Hell fire as well as given glad tidings of Heaven as punishment/reward.


    There is no compulsion in anything. Allah promises that he will not wrong you in anyway. You can only wrong yourselves. 



    Why cannot you understand and accept a simple truth that if the Quran is from Allah, no verse of the Quran can contradict another? If you find even a single contradiction, then the Book is not from Allah and you are completely free of any obligation to follow a false Book. So, think twice before you talk about any verse contradicting another. You blaspheme the Quran by saying that verse 66:6 contradicts/abrogates verse 2:256 but then you are in good company because there is hardly any scholar who does not consider the Quran a book of contradictions or containing several abrogated verses! This is the problem with Islamic scholars – they lack integrity and it is their lack of integrity which makes them treat the Quran as a book that is lacking in integrity. A book containing contradictory/abrogated verses is lacking in integrity and a sure sign that it is not from Allah. The fact is otherwise. The Book has perfect integrity. It is the scholars who lack integrity and are hypocrites. This is because they approach the Quran with false beliefs derived from the secondary sources.


    Do not just say things in a vacuum. Everything that I say is backed by relevant verses from the Quran. So, if you want to find fault with what I say, quote me fully on the subject and then argue.

    As far as sects are concerned, every single sect is a sub-sect of the Kharjites for it is the Kharjites who introduced the notion of Kafirs among the Muslims and every sect considers people of other sects as kafir. Every sect is therefore by definition a sub-sect of the Kharjites.

    As far as the Quran is concerned, a believer (momin) can be a kafir but not a Muslim and a Muslim is defined by verse 9:5 in which the only proof that is demanded of a person being a Muslim is whether he establishes regular prayers and spends in charity. If a person does that he is a Muslim and cannot be called a kafir no matter what his beliefs may or may not be. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/7/2018 11:43:04 PM

  • As per His Excellency, I am not surprise to see (twisted) remarks made by NH, but again my question is quite clear “can we protect ourselves from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, without following what is truth?” and “what is wrong in preaching the Truth which includes “the Quran, Islam, and five pillars of faith?” and I can say without any hesitation that, NH can’t keep intact at least three pillars of faith (which are essential for a Muslim to believe and follow) under His anarchist ideology, so He must leave His path, otherwise, there is no doubt that He is paving the way to an another sect, not presenting the real Islam.

    By misbahul Huda - 12/6/2018 5:39:35 AM

  • The verse cited by MH is another example where a Momin can be a kafir. Verse 66:6 is addressed to the believers and the next verse refers to the same believers as kafaru who do not do what is necessary to save themselves from the Fire. From the previous verse (not cited) we learn that to save oneself from the Fire, it is not enough to be a believer (Momin) but one must also be a Muslim who obediently follows the tenets of Islam, worships Allah, fasts, and repents his sins.


    (66:6) O ye who believe (Amanu)! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.

    (7) (They will say), "O ye Unbelievers (kafaru)! Make no excuses this Day! Ye are being but requited for all that ye did!"

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/5/2018 2:19:37 AM

  • Rashid Samankay Sb,


    Uncompromising monotheism and uncompromising polytheism are never comfortable with each other and the Prophet's public preaching did offend some people who felt threatened by the new religion and its egalitarianism. They did approach the Prophet for a compromise agreeing to worship Allah if he accepted that a couple of their deities were accepted as smaller gods with the power of intercession with Allah. This was rejected. There was therefore certainly conflict but it is important to keep in mind the following points:


    1. The Quran categorically prevents the Prophet and the Muslims from reviling other religions.

    2. It advises the Prophet and the Muslims to take the stand with those who reject Islam "To you be your religion and to me mine"

    3. It does not believe in compulsion in religion because "(2:256) ".... Truth stands out clear from Error...."

    4. There is a standing order in the Quran to accept peace whenever peace is offered.

    5. After the first battle of Badr, there is the offer that if they gave up persecution of the Muslims all past acts of persecution would be forgiven and the Muslims would return in peace and preach in peace.

    6. The Pagan leaders knew that if the Prophet was allowed to preach unhindered and in peace, all would accept Islam which is why they fought to the bitter end and lost everything.

    7. Those who had never fought or fought but without violating any treaty had the right to practice their religion and become jizya paying citizens. The Prophet did not wrong anyone.


    To get an idea of the Prophetic Mission from the Quran, please read:


    1.      The Story of the Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) from the Qu’ran (part 1): The early opposition

    2.      The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 2): The Clear Warning to the Meccan Pagans

    3.      The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 3): Important Pointers from the Stories of the Prophets

    4.      The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 4): The Medinian Period

    5.      The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Qu’ran (Concluding Part) Summary

    6.      The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 6): The People of the Book and Jiziya


    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/5/2018 12:23:24 AM

  • Misbahul Huda sb typifies what ails Islamic  scholarship. Can anybody see any compulsion in religion  in the verse cited by him? The verse is addressed to the believers and contains a clear warning. Where is the command to compel people to follow the religion in the verse? 

    His mentor GGS also is blind to the flaw in the argument. In any case, his article on the same subject is wishy washy and therefore, he also appears to agree with Misbahul sb that compulsion is permissible.

    My article is lengthy only because it refutes those who undermine/dilute the simple and straightforward meaning of 2:256 and exposes the devices of misguidance used by them.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/5/2018 12:17:38 AM

  • Misbah Sahab,
    The writer always weakens his arguments by such repeated points, appropriately in all his articles. 
    You have truly said it is sheer wastage of time for him to make such comments.
    He often claims to be literalist, then why does he go to make such a lengthy explanation. 
    Anyway it is his way and we have ours. However he is not limited to his way, rather he will come to force you in so many ways to follow his way otherwise the label of 'misguidnce' is ready for you. 
    Just wait and see. 

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 12/4/2018 6:32:38 AM

  • Author says: “Ibn al-Arabi in his work Ahkam al-Qur'an, declares dogmatically that to compel to the truth is part of the Faith, on the authority of a hadith” But He forgets to tell us that this dogma is basically derived firstly from the following verse of Quran and then secondly supported by any Hadith. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ (التحریم:66) “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded”.
    By misbahul Huda - 12/3/2018 6:20:51 AM

  • Writer say: The Ahadith, the Shan-e-Nuzul and the commentaries of the past scholars are all sources of misguidance. To correctly understand the Quran, the Quran is enough by itself. The Ahadith especially are a body of misleading literature falsely attributing to the Prophet (pbuh) what he could never have said and must be shunned". and comments: "There was never a Mujaddid and there will never be a Mahdi because there is no need for it. Each one of us is capable of becoming a Mahdi or the rightly guided by following the Quran scrupulously". If this is true, writer’s comments and remarks are nothing more than waste, hence must go to dustbin.
    By misbahul Huda - 12/3/2018 6:07:20 AM

  • "There was never a Mujaddid and there will never be a Mahdi because there is no need for it. Each one of us is capable of becoming a Mahdi "

    This tells that One day you will surely become a (misguided) Mahdi or co called prophet, may be .  

    By misbahul Huda - 12/3/2018 5:54:05 AM

  • maulana naseer sahab, 
    you have written a good article

    By Talha - 12/3/2018 2:59:00 AM

  • There was never a Mujaddid and there will never be a Mahdi because there is no need for it. Each one of us is capable of becoming a Mahdi or the rightly guided by following the Quran  scrupulously. Any transformation that comes will be a people's movement rather than driven by a single individual. This will happen when people realize the folly of their ways and what they need to do to course correct.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 11/30/2018 2:37:52 AM

  • It is a valid question as to why were the Meccans persecuting the Apostle Muhammad and his followers? Did he one day just stood up at the Kabaa and start condemning the idols there and denounce the Meccans' religion as paganism and their life style as totally abhorrent? Some thing that they had “found their ancestors always practicing”.

    How does this compare with the mission of other Apostles?

    Historians who came two three centuries after the Apostle Muhammad passing away, tell us that it was he who in his given divine mission started antagonising the citizens of the market/temple city Mecca and affecting their livelihood and economy, hence the enmity. One example is given of his uninvited visit to the city of Taif to preach there but in return got pelted with stones! Much less a punishment then that meted out to the American Christian missionary John Allen who wanted to do the same this week for the Sentinelese on the Indian Ocean island but was killed for his efforts!

    (Compare the Apostles seeking refuge in Madinah)

    True, “Fighting is not ordained against the Muslims, Christians, Jews, polytheists, idolaters, atheists or person(s) of any faith, but only against those who oppress other people for their faith no matter what the faith professed by the oppressors may be.” - therefore it must be categorically established that:

    a) Religious history written not-in-time but centuries later can never be trusted.

    b) That lives only the Quran to depend on and why... ...and

    c) No matter who they are – ISIS or Saudis or any Super Power - and what modus operandi they adopt to coerce others to adopt their particular ways; they must be resisted.

    By Rashid Samnakay - 11/30/2018 12:59:11 AM

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