It is a
common complaint among 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.
1. Islam means peace.
comes from the root word ‘salaam’,
which means peace. It also means submitting
one’s will to
Allah (swt). Thus Islam
is a religion of peace, which is acquired by submitting one’s
will to the will of the Supreme Creator, Allah (swt).
2. Sometimes force has to be used to maintain peace.
and every human being in this world is not in favour
of maintaining peace and harmony. There are many, who would disrupt it
for their own vested interests. Sometimes force has to be used to
maintain peace. It is precisely for this reason that we have the police
who use force against criminals and anti-social elements to maintain
peace in the country. Islam promotes peace. At the same time, Islam
exhorts it followers to fight where there is oppression. The fight
against oppression may, at times, require the use of force. In Islam
force can only be used to promote peace and justice.
3. Opinion of historian De Lacy O’Leary.
best reply to the misconception that Islam was spread by the sword is
given by the noted historian De Lacy O’Leary in the book
"Islam at the cross road" (Page 8):
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 myth that
historians have ever repeated."
4. Muslims ruled
for 800 years.
for about 800 years. The Muslims in
never used the sword to force the people to convert. Later the
Christian Crusaders came to
and wiped out the Muslims. There was not a single Muslim in
who could openly give the adhan, that is the call for prayers.
5. 14 million Arabs are Coptic Christians.
were the lords of
Arabia for 1400
years. For a few years the British ruled, and for a few years the
French ruled. Overall, the Muslims ruled
Arabia for 1400
years. Yet today, there are 14 million Arabs who are Coptic Christians
i.e. Christians since generations. If the Muslims had used the sword
there would not have been a single Arab who would have remained a
6. More than 80% non-Muslims in
for about a thousand years. If they wanted, they had the power of
converting each and every non-Muslim of
to Islam. Today more than 80% of the population
are non-Muslims. All these non-Muslim Indians are bearing
witness today that Islam was not spread by the sword.
Indonesia is a
country that has the maximum number of Muslims in the world. The
majority of people in
are Muslims. May one ask, "Which Muslim army went to
8. East Coast of
Islam has spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. One may again
ask, if Islam was spread by the sword, "Which Muslim army went to the
East Coast of Africa?"
9. Thomas Carlyle.
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 try 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."
10. No compulsion in religion.
which sword was Islam spread? Even if Muslims had it they could not use
it to spread Islam because the
Qur’an says in
the following verse:
there be no compulsion in religion:
Truth stands out clear from error"
11. Sword of the Intellect.
the sword of intellect. The sword
that conquers the hearts and minds of people. The Qur’an says in
Surah Nahl, chapter 16
(all) to the way of thy Lord
with wisdom and beautiful preaching;
and argue with them in ways that are
best and most gracious."
12. Increase in the world religions from 1934 to 1984.
article in Reader’s Digest ‘Almanac’,
year book 1986, gave the statistics of the increase of 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%, and
Christianity had increased only by 47%. May one ask, which war took
place in this century which converted millions of people to Islam?
13. Islam is the fastest growing religion in
the fastest growing religion in
The fastest growing religion in
Europe in Islam.
Which sword is forcing people in the West to accept Islam in such large
14. Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson.
Joseph Adam Pearson rightly says, "People who worry that nuclear
weaponry will one day fall in the hands of the Arabs, fail to realize
that the Islamic bomb has been dropped already, it fell the day
MUHAMMED (pbuh) was
September 27, 2006
Since the days when Roman Emperors threw Christians
to the lions, the relations between the emperors and the heads of the
church have undergone many changes.
Constantine the Great, who became Emperor in the
year 306--exactly 1700 years ago--encouraged the practice of
Christianity in the empire, which included
. Centuries later, the church
split into an Eastern (Orthodox) and a Western (Catholic) part. In the
West, the Bishop of Rome, who acquired the title of Pope, demanded that
the Emperor accept his superiority.
The struggle between the Emperors and the Popes
played a central role in European history and divided the peoples. It
knew ups and downs. Some Emperors dismissed or expelled a Pope, some
Popes dismissed or excommunicated an Emperor. One of the Emperors,
Henry IV, "walked to
," standing for three days barefoot in the
snow in front of the Pope's castle, until the Pope deigned to annul his
But there were times when Emperors and Popes lived
in peace with each other. We are witnessing such a period today.
Between the present Pope, Benedict XVI, and the present Emperor, George
Bush II, there exists a wonderful harmony. Last week's speech by the
Pope, which aroused a world-wide storm, went well with Bush's crusade
against "Islamofascism," in the context of the "Clash of
IN HIS lecture at a German university, the 265th
Pope described what he sees as a huge difference between Christianity
and Islam: while Christianity is based on reason, Islam denies it.
While Christians see the logic of God's actions, Muslims deny that
there is any such logic in the actions of Allah.
As a Jewish atheist, I do not intend to enter the
fray of this debate. It is much beyond my humble abilities to
understand the logic of the Pope. But I cannot overlook one passage,
which concerns me too, as an Israeli living near the fault-line of this
"war of civilizations."
In order to prove the lack of reason in Islam, the
Pope asserts that the prophet Muhammad ordered his followers to spread
their religion by the sword. According to the Pope, that is
unreasonable, because faith is born of the soul, not of the body. How
can the sword influence the soul?
To support his case, the Pope quoted--of all
people--a Byzantine Emperor, who belonged, of course, to the competing
Eastern Church. At the end of the 14th Century, the Emperor Manuel II
Palaeologus told of a debate he had--or so he said (its occurrence is
in doubt)--with an unnamed Persian Muslim scholar. In the heat of the
argument, the Emperor (according to himself) flung the following words
at his adversary:
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new,
and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his
command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
These words give rise to three questions: (a) Why
did the Emperor say them? (b) Are they true? (c) Why did the present
Pope quote them?
WHEN MANUEL II wrote his treatise, he was the head
of a dying empire. He assumed power in 1391, when only a few provinces
of the once illustrious empire remained. These, too, were already under
At that point in time, the Ottoman Turks had
reached the banks of the
. They had conquered
and the north of
, and had twice defeated relieving armies
to save the
May 29, 1453
, only a few years after Manuel's death,
) fell to the Turks, putting an end to the
Empire that had lasted for more than a thousand years.
During his reign, Manuel made the rounds of the
in an attempt to drum up support. He
promised to reunite the church. There is no doubt that he wrote his
religious treatise in order to incite the Christian countries against
the Turks and convince them to start a new crusade. The aim was
practical, theology was serving politics.
In this sense, the quote serves exactly the
requirements of the present Emperor, George Bush II. He, too, wants to
unite the Christian world against the mainly Muslim "Axis of Evil."
Moreover, the Turks are again knocking on the doors of
, this time peacefully. It is well known
that the Pope supports the forces that object to the entry of
into the European Union.
IS THERE any truth in Manuel's argument?
The pope himself threw in a word of caution. As a
serious and renowned theologian, he could not afford to falsify written
texts. Therefore, he admitted that the Qur'an specifically forbade the
spreading of the faith by force. He quoted the second Sura, verse 256
(strangely fallible, for a pope, he meant verse 257) which says: "There
must be no coercion in matters of faith."
How can one ignore such an unequivocal statement?
The Pope simply argues that this commandment was laid down by the
prophet when he was at the beginning of his career, still weak and
powerless, but that later on he ordered the use of the sword in the
service of the faith. Such an order does not exist in the Qur'an. True,
Muhammad called for the use of the sword in his war against opposing
tribes--Christian, Jewish and others--in
, when he was building his state. But that
was a political act, not a religious one; basically a fight for
territory, not for the spreading of the faith.
Jesus said: "You will recognize them by their
fruits." The treatment of other religions by Islam must be judged by a
simple test: How did the Muslim rulers behave for more than a thousand
years, when they had the power to "spread the faith by the sword"?
Well, they just did not.
For many centuries, the Muslims ruled
. Did the Greeks become Muslims? Did anyone
even try to Islamize them? On the contrary, Christian Greeks held the
highest positions in the Ottoman administration. The Bulgarians, Serbs,
Romanians, Hungarians and other European nations lived at one time or
another under Ottoman rule and clung to their Christian faith. Nobody
compelled them to become Muslims and all of them remained devoutly
True, the Albanians did convert to Islam, and so
did the Bosniaks. But nobody argues that they did this under duress.
They adopted Islam in order to become favorites of the government and
enjoy the fruits.
In 1099, the Crusaders conquered
and massacred its Muslim and Jewish
inhabitants indiscriminately, in the name of the gentle Jesus. At that
time, 400 years into the occupation of
by the Muslims, Christians were still the
majority in the country. Throughout this long period, no effort was
made to impose Islam on them. Only after the expulsion of the Crusaders
from the country, did the majority of the inhabitants start to adopt
the Arabic language and the Muslim faith--and they were the forefathers
of most of today's Palestinians.
THERE IS no evidence whatsoever of any attempt to
impose Islam on the Jews. As is well known, under Muslim rule the Jews
of Spain enjoyed a bloom the like of which the Jews did not enjoy
anywhere else until almost our time. Poets like Yehuda Halevy wrote in
Arabic, as did the great Maimonides. In Muslim Spain, Jews were
ministers, poets, scientists. In Muslim Toledo, Christian, Jewish and
Muslim scholars worked together and translated the ancient Greek
philosophical and scientific texts. That was, indeed, the Golden Age.
How would this have been possible, had the Prophet decreed the
"spreading of the faith by the sword"?
What happened afterwards is even more telling. When
the Catholics re-conquered
from the Muslims, they instituted a reign
of religious terror. The Jews and the Muslims were presented with a
cruel choice: to become Christians, to be massacred or to leave. And
where did the hundreds of thousand of Jews, who refused to abandon
their faith, escape? Almost all of them were received with open arms in
the Muslim countries. The Sephardi ("Spanish") Jews settled all over
the Muslim world, from
in the west to
in the east, from
(then part of the
) in the north to
in the south. Nowhere were they persecuted.
They knew nothing like the tortures of the Inquisition, the flames of
the auto-da-fe, the pogroms, the terrible mass-expulsions that took
place in almost all Christian countries, up to the Holocaust.
WHY? Because Islam expressly prohibited any
persecution of the "peoples of the book." In Islamic society, a special
place was reserved for Jews and Christians. They did not enjoy
completely equal rights, but almost. They had to pay a special
poll-tax, but were exempted from military service--a trade-off that was
quite welcome to many Jews. It has been said that Muslim rulers frowned
upon any attempt to convert Jews to Islam even by gentle
persuasion--because it entailed the loss of taxes.
Every honest Jew who knows the history of his
people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has
protected the Jews for 50 generations, while the Christian world
persecuted the Jews and tried many times "by the sword" to get them to
abandon their faith.
THE STORY about "spreading the faith by the sword"
is an evil legend, one of the myths that grew up in
during the great wars against the
Muslims--the reconquista of
by the Christians, the Crusades and the
repulsion of the Turks, who almost conquered
. I suspect that the German Pope, too,
honestly believes in these fables. That means that the leader of the
Catholic world, who is a Christian theologian in his own right, did not
make the effort to study the history of other religions.
Why did he utter these words in public? And why
There is no escape from viewing them against the
background of the new Crusade of Bush and his evangelist supporters,
with his slogans of "Islamofascism" and the "Global War on
Terrorism"--when "terrorism" has become a synonym for Muslims. For
Bush's handlers, this is a cynical attempt to justify the domination of
the world's oil resources. Not for the first time in history, a
religious robe is spread to cover the nakedness of economic interests;
not for the first time, a robbers' expedition becomes a Crusade.
The speech of the Pope blends into
this effort. Who can foretell the dire consequences?