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Islamic Q and A (14 Dec 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Has the Ayat La Ikraha fid Deen (There is No Compulsion in Religion) been Abrogated?

 By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

14 December 2018

Allah Almighty says,

“There is no compulsion at all in Din (Religion). Surely, the guidance has become evidently distinguished from error. So he who rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped such a firm handhold that will never loosen. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (2:256)

This is the basic Islamic principle upon which the idea of non-compulsion is built, guaranteeing religious freedom for all non-Muslims. Islam, as the Quranic verse says, has made its “guidance evidently distinguished from error” and therefore it does not force the people to convert to Islam. In other words, Islam invites the people to accept Islam willingly, but it does not force them to do so. A number of Quranic verses support this view. Some of them are as follows;

“And if your Lord willed, all those who are in the earth – everyone of them – would have accepted faith; so will you (O dear Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him) force the people until they become Muslims?” (The Quran -10:99)

“And proclaim, “The Truth is from your Lord”; so whoever wills may accept faith, and whoever wills may disbelieve – We have indeed prepared for the wrongdoers [Zalimin] a fire the walls of which will surround them; if they plead for water, their plea will be answered with water like molten metal which shall scald their faces; what an evil drink it is; and what an evil destination is hell!” (The Quran - 18:29)

These Aayaat of the Quran make it quite clear that Almighty Allah’s will is not to force anyone to accept His Religion [Islam], though He has liked Islam for the people.

The Ayat 2:256 “There is No Compulsion in the Religion (Din)” Is not Abrogated

It was the explanation of the Ayat 2:256 in support of the two other verses mentioned above. Now the main theme of our subject is whether this Ayat 2:256 is abrogated or not.

Some scholars argue that this verse 2:256 was abrogated by those verses that command Muslims to fight (9:5 and 9:73 etc). However this interpretation is not chronologically coherent with either of the narrated occasions of revelation (Shane Nuzul) for this verse. More significantly, compulsion in Religion contradicts the idea of responsibility before Allah Almighty (taklif), in which one is taken to account for one’s actions in both this life and the Hereafter (Imam Razi “Tafsir-e-Kabir”).

According to the overwhelming majority of classical Muslim scholars (Ulema-e-Jumhoor), this verse (2:256) is non-abrogated and was revealed in the Madani period, when the Muslims had attained political ascendance and were in a position of strength and not weakness. Sir Thomas Walker Arnold (1913) and many modern scholars including the orientalists also support the same view (See “Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith, p. 6.). There is a divine message in this verse that Muslims cannot force another’s heart to believe. The famous theologians belonging to different schools of thought, who consider this verse (2:256) to be non-abrogated are Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti (Al-Itqan Fi Ulum al-Quran vol. 2), Al-Nahhas (al-Nasikh wal Mansukh fi al-Quran al-Karim), Al-Jassas (Ahkam al-Quran), Ibn Ashur (al-Tahrir wat Tanwir), Al-Tabari (Jamiul Bayan An Tawil Al-Quran), Abi Ubayd (Kitab Al-Nasikh Wal Mansukh), Makki bin Abi Talib (al-Idah li nasikh al-Quran wa mansukh), Ibn Taymiyya (qaida mukhtasarah fi qitalil kuffar), Ibn Qayyim (Ahkam Al-Dhimma) and many others.

Notably a famous classical jurist belonging to Hambali school of thought, Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi writes, (translation from Arabic) “It is not permitted to force a non-Muslim to accept Islam. Such a person would not even be considered a Muslim until it is confirmed that he accepted the Islamic faith by his own free choice.” He also says, “The reason for the prohibition of any compulsion or coercion is the Qur’anic verse, “There is no compulsion in Religion” (see al-Mughni-)).

An influential scholar of the Shafi'i school, Ismail Ibn Kathir writes in his commentary on the verse 2:256,

يقول تعالى : ( لا إكراه في الدين ) أي : لا تكرهوا أحدا على الدخول في دين الإسلام فإنه بين واضح جلي دلائله وبراهينه لا يحتاج إلى أن يكره أحد على الدخول فيه ، بل من هداه الله للإسلام وشرح صدره ونور بصيرته دخل فيه على بينة ، ومن أعمى الله قلبه وختم على سمعه وبصره فإنه لا يفيده الدخول في الدين مكرها مقسورا . وقد ذكروا أن سبب نزول هذه الآية في قوم من الأنصار ، وإن كان حكمها عاما .

English Translation:

“Do not force anyone to become Muslim, for Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidence are plain and clear. Therefore, there is no need to force anyone to embrace Islam. Rather, whoever Allah directs to Islam, opens his heart for it and enlightens his mind, will embrace Islam with certainty. Whoever Allah blinds his heart and seals his hearing and sight, then he will not benefit from being forced to embrace Islam.” (Ismail Ibn Kathir “Tafsir Al-Quran Al-Azim” English and Arabic versions, 2:256).

In addition to learning that the Ayat 2:256 is not abrogated, it is also necessary to know the occasions of Revelation [Shane Nuzul] of the Verse 2:256.

There are three mostly narrated occasions of Revelation of this verse. But Al-Nahhas said, “The position of Ibn Abbas regarding this verse 2:256 is the best position because its isnad (chain of narration) is sound.” According to this position of Ibn Abbas, as reported by Abu Dawud (may Allah be pleased with both of them), this verse was sent down about the Ansar. There was a woman, all of whose children had died. She made a vow that if she had a child who lived she would become a Jew. When the Jewish tribe ‘Banu Nadir’ were exiled from the city of Madina after they were found plotting against the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him), there were many of the children of the Ansar.  These Muslim parents from among the Ansar questioned whether they should force their children to join the Muslim community. Then Allah revealed, “There is no compulsion in Religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path.” (See Tafsir al-Qurtubi and Tafsir al-Quran al-Azeem etc).

It is reported that although the Ansar were the reason behind revealing this verse 2:256, the application of its message is general in meaning (Tafsir Ibn Kathir). Given the famous maxim "العبرة بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب", meaning, “Consideration is granted to the Generality of the Language, not to the Specificity of the Reason for Revelation”, it is proclaimed that this verse (2:256) is general in meaning and applies to all non-Muslims. Hence it means that none of the non-Muslims living should be coerced to accept Islam. The rationale behind this generality is explained this way that since the revelation has distinguished the path of guidance from the path of misguidance, it is now up to the will of people to choose the one or the other path and therefore accepting Islam because of compulsion would not benefit the convert in any way.

More significantly it is also reported that when Hadhrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) invited an old Christian woman to accept Islam, she said in reply: “I am an old woman nearing death.” Hearing this, Hadhrat Umar did not force her to come into the fold of Islam. In fact, he recited this very verse 2:256 “There is no compulsion in Din (Religion)” (Al-Nahhas “al-Nasikh wal Mansukh”)

Undoubtedly the idea of compulsion to make one accept Islam is not possible at all. This is because Islamic faith is not related to outward physical response, but rather it relates to the heart. (See also Tafsir al-Qurtubi)

Similar statements regarding the non-compulsion can also be understood from the following Quranic verses. Allah the Most High says,

 “And had Allah so willed, certainly all inhabitants on the earth would have believed. Will you coerce the people until they become believers?” (10:99-100)

A great Hanafi scholar Imam Nasafi says while interpreting the above mentioned verses, لو خلق (الله تعالى) فيهم الإيمان جبرا لآمنوا لكن قد شاء أن يؤمنوا اختيارا”, and similarly many other Muslim theologians argue that (translation) “if Allah the Most High wanted to compel all people to believe, then He would have done so and all the people would have believed in Him. But He has willed instead that they come to believe in Him by their own free choice”. (Abd Allah ibn Ahmad al-Nasafi, “Madarik al-Tanzil wa Haqaiq Al-Tawil (the Arabic book of Tafsir)

The same message of non-compulsion in Islam is also mentioned in these two verses (73:19 and 76:29) in which Allah Almighty says, “This is indeed an advice; so whoever wishes may take the path towards his Lord.”

Forced belief is not sincere belief. As we have already seen in the above passages that Islamic faith is not related to outward physical response, but rather it relates to the heart. This is one of the reasons that Allah Almighty says, “The messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the message.” (5:99). Allah Almighty says, “If we had so willed, we could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance” (As-Sajdah 32:13). Since the Quran has distinguished guidance from error, as mentioned in the verse 2:256, it is now up to the will of people whether to believe or disbelieve. So it is for the reasons discussed above the Ayat 2:256 can’t be called ‘abrogated’.

Allah Almighty knows the best!

A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-q-a/has-the-ayat-la-ikraha-fid-deen-(there-is-no-compulsion-in-religion)-been-abrogated?/d/117158

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  • @Urooj, 
    1. Allah Almighty is free from every defect or shortcoming.

    2. Everybody and everything needs Him; and He does not need anything or anybody.

    3. He is free from bearing any similarity to creations.

    4. He does not change. Just as He was possessed of His attributes in pre-eternity (Azal), so He shall remain with the same attributes forever. It is absolutely impossible [muhal] that He was something before, and then turned to become something else.

    5. He is not a body. He is free from everything that is suggestive of bodies.

    6. “He is transcendent from magnitude; one cannot say this much, this big and so forth. [He is not] tall, wide, thick, thin, little or more, countable or weighable, big or small, heavy or light.

    7. He transcends having a shape – [He is] neither wide or narrow, nor spherical or long, nor triangular or conical, nor straight or oblique nor any other shape.

    8. He transcends having extents or limits; He is not ‘unlimited’ in the sense of being [physically] spread out without a limit; that is, He transcends having any concept of magnitude. In other words, when we say He is transcendent from limits, we mean negation of imposing any limits; not the attestation of unlimited magnitude.

    9. He is not made from anything.

    10. Parts and sections cannot be conceived or considered in Him, even hypothetically.

    11. He is transcendent from directions or edges or [being on a] side. One cannot say that He is on the right or left; or front and back; similarly, [in this sense of direction] He is not above.

    12. He is not attached with anything in the creation such that He is in contact [with something].

    13. He is not detached from the creation – to mean that there is a [physical] distance between Him and His creation.

    14. He is transcendent from place and location.

    15. He transcends all conditions and necessities for bodies like standing, sitting, descending, ascending, walking, stopping etc.

    (Al-Qawahirul Al-Qahhar fi mujassmatil fujjar)

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 1/21/2019 1:15:52 AM

  • Mr Austin, 
    You can find your answer while reading this article thoroughly. I have also mentioned those names who have established that the ayat is not abrogated. Please read it again.
    As for your finding it for the first time, it is your business. Why did you get late to find it for the first time? It is your fault and not mine. 

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 1/21/2019 1:14:00 AM

  • No verse of the Quran is abrogated
    By Naseer Ahmed - 1/21/2019 12:37:26 AM

  • A man asked me,
    Does Allah have a form or formless?
    you can better give answer.

    By Urooj - 1/20/2019 9:01:08 PM

  • on which ground you can say this is not abrogated. this is also a ridiculous scholar 
    i am shocked to know that you are the first to consider it non abrogated 

    By Austin - 1/20/2019 8:13:01 PM

  • Allah is the Creator of this earth:
    إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ ۖ يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ ۖ مَا مِنْ شَفِيعٍ إِلَّا مِنْ بَعْدِ إِذْنِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
    Verily your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority), regulating and governing all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained). This is Allah your Lord; Him therefore serve ye: will ye not receive admonition?"
    اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ ۖ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا شَفِيعٍ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَذَكَّرُونَ
    It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all between them, in six days, and is firmly established on the Throne (of Authority): ye have none, besides Him, to protect or intercede (for you): will ye not then receive admonition?"
    إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ ۗ تَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ
    Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o'er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!"

    By zuma - 1/18/2019 11:16:24 PM

  • This is nice article. Thank you newageislam for sharing it with us.
    By Zohara Nasreen - 1/16/2019 9:04:16 AM

  •  فإن مبنى علم الشرائع والأحكام وأساس قواعد عقائد الإسلام هو علم التوحيد والصفات الموسوم بالكلام المنجي عن غياهب الشكوك وظلمات الأوهام.

    The foundation of Science of Shara’i [plural of Shariat] and Ahkam [judgments] and the basis of rules [qawaid] related to Beliefs [aqaid] of Islam is the Science of oneness [tauheed] and attributes [sifat] entitled al-Kalam which rescues [the believers] from darkness of doubts and obscurities of illusions.

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 1/14/2019 7:14:01 AM

  • Classical Islamic scholars have absolutely no idea about what logic means. If they were logical, they would have had zero tolerance for contradictions. However, their ilm al kalam is precisely to gloss over the contradictory or false positions that they take.

    What they mean by "categorical refutation" is their empty saying "I categorically refute". They do not even have any idea about what it means to refute categorically!

    By Naseer Ahmed - 1/13/2019 12:33:41 AM

  • Thank you Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Saheb. 
    By Rumish - 1/12/2019 6:31:11 PM

  • The verses below support people have to turn to Allah to seek his forgiveness:
    Chapter 4 The Women سورة النساء - An-Nisa: Verse 106
    وَاسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا
    But seek the forgiveness of Allah; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
    Chapter 5 The Table Spread سورة المائدة - Al-Maeda: Verse 74
    أَفَلَا يَتُوبُونَ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
    Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
    Chapter 4 The Women سورة النساء - An-Nisa: Verse 99
    فَأُولَٰئِكَ عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَعْفُوَ عَنْهُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا
    For these, there is hope that Allah will forgive: For Allah doth blot out (sins) and forgive again and again."
    The verse below supports Allah is everywhere:
    Chapter 2 The Cow سورة البقرة - Al-Baqara: Verse 115
    وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
    To Allah belong the east and the West: Whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing."
    The phrase, Whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of Allah, as mentioned in Quran 2:115 implies Allah is not only at Mecca, he is everywhere.  This is by virtue of you can find Allah wherever your face turns to since the phrase, Whithersoever ye turn...there is the presence of Allah, is mentioned in Quran 2:115.  Does Allah belong to Arab?  No, it is not true since the phrase, Allah belong the east and the west, in Quran 2:115 implies Allah belongs to all nations and that is why all nations can come to him with faith and do good deeds to paradise.
    Allah demands people to put their trust in Allah:
    Chapter 33 The Coalition سورة الأحزاب - Al-Ahzab: Verse 3
    وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
    And put thy trust in Allah, and enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs."
    The verse supports Allah lives eternally:
    Chapter 112 Absoluteness سورة الإخلاص - Al-Ikhlas: Verse 2
    اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ
    Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;"

    By zuma - 1/12/2019 3:00:09 PM

  • The verses that support Allah is the creator of all things:
    أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا كَيْفَ يُبْدِئُ اللَّهُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
    See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah."
    قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ۚ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ يُنْشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الْآخِرَةَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
    Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things."
    The extracted verse supports Allah is the creator of human beings:
    وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
    "But Allah has created you and your handwork!"
    وَاللَّهُ أَنْبَتَكُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ نَبَاتًا
    "'And Allah has produced you from the earth growing (gradually),"
    The verse below supports Allah is not the moon-god, but God that controls heavens and the earth:
    وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
    To Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and Allah hath power over all things."
    The extracted verse even supports Allah is the provider of food to human beings (If Allah does not provide rain, do you think food can be grown?  If Allah does not create vegetables and etc., do you think you can eat?  That is why this verse mentions he is the provider of foods for human beings):
    وَكُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي أَنْتُمْ بِهِ مُؤْمِنُونَ
    Eat of the things which Allah hath provided for you, lawful and good; but fear Allah, in Whom ye believe."

    By zuma - 1/12/2019 2:40:34 PM

  • The people who borrow entire thought from those whose only purpose was nothing but to destroy the basis of Islam do the same talk against Ilm al-Kalam. 
    This is not a new thing but has been categorically refuted in many ways.
     By the way people in this age in the name of using reasoning have stopped using their own faculty of reasoning.

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 1/12/2019 9:00:05 AM

  • “Ilm al kalam” literally means the “science/knowledge of discourse/argumentation and was learnt/developed to debate with people of other faiths on theological matters. It has never really been a science but an art of one up-manship. People of other faiths claimed their scriptures to be “uncreated” and therefore, not be left behind, the Muslims also claimed the Quran to be uncreated ignoring all evidence to the contrary including a verse that says that the Quran is produced by Allah. Based on the assertion of the Muslims that the Quran is the word of Allah, and that the word of Allah is uncreated, the Christians easily proved the “divinity” of Jesus (pbuh) by arguing that according to the Quran, Jesus is Allah’s word and since the Muslims claim that to be uncreated, Jesus is also uncreated and therefore god/divine.

    4:171 “Messiah Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word (Kalimatuhu), which He bestowed on Mary, and a Rūḥun proceeding from Him. 

    Did the Muslims give up on their claim that the Quran/word of Allah is uncreated? No.

    Did they accept the result of the correct conclusion (although based on the false premise of uncreated word of Allah) that Jesus is god? No.

     Logically, there is no difference between saying that Allah’s word is uncreated and the position of the atheists that there is no God. If Allah’s word is uncreated, He has nothing further to say and everything is as it should be. If everything was and is as it should be, where does God fit in? He is unnecessary even as a logical construct.

     ilm al kalam has not produced anything of value and is mostly used to support taking up of false positions. The Quran is a Book that makes things clear and it does not require ilm al kalam to understand its simple direct message. However, a sound knowledge of logic gives us the confidence and conviction to defend the simple direct meaning of the Quran, faced as we are with the distortions that have crept in. It was in this context, that I exhorted pursing a study of logic rather than the art of one-upmanship and supporting of false positions which  ilm al kalam has become through misuse.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 1/12/2019 6:24:04 AM

  • @Rumish,

    There are a number of Quranic aayaat which imply that Allah Almighty is ‘the Creator of everything” (13:16, 39:62, 40:62). The word ‘thing’ includes every substance, accident, cause and effect that exists in each moment.

     If a human being is engaged in spiritual and empirical observation of every perceived cause and effect with the fact mentioned in the Quran that real Creator is none but Allah, he will be more beloved to Allah, provided it is for remembrance and thankfulness.  

    Hope you have got your answer. Regards!

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 1/12/2019 3:19:11 AM

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