Islam and sword

Many oriantalists and non-orientalist labor under misapprehension in their writings that Islam spread by sword. They are trying to put an aura of absolute truth and authenticity round their claims when they link between Islamic conquests and the propagation of Islam by sword.

 The true matter is that those who endeavor to say this are one kind of two people;

– A man of neutral stance but has weak research where he takes the husk of matters and leaves the core, and gives his readers wrong ideas and conclusions.
– A man who is a good researcher who knew all facts and truths in Islam but is of bad intentions, deceives himself and slander Islam by saying the opposite of truths.
It is known that Muslims never used swords save that in Badr incursion where Muslims were not attackers or oppressors yet they were defending their faith.

 Any one scrutinizes and research about the Islamic conquests will deduce that the Islamic sword was unsheathed just to defend the new religion and to protect Muslims and their properties.

Therefore conquests and incursions were either a war of defense or a protective war and both are alike.
When Islam triumphed in the Arabian Peninsula, the Islamic conquests started for the safe propagation of Islam and never used swords.

 The goal of these conquests was to conquer oppressors and tyrants. That’s why Muslims never forced any one to embrace their religion. They never massacred a child, never harmed senior people and women. The Islamic conquests goals were not for compelling people to change non-Muslims into Muslims, but to expand the Islamic dominance which is actually the dominance of a right credo, to propagate justice and peace all over the world.

The methods of preaching in Islam are far from blood shedding, using swords or subjugating people to Islam by force. The Holy Qur’an abounds in many verses like that, the Almighty says,
“There is no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah: 256)
And also says,

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (An-Nahl:125)
Almighty says,
“So if they dispute with thee, say: “I have submitted My whole self to Allah and so have those who follow me.” And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: “Do ye (also) submit yourselves?” If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, Thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah’s sight are (all) His servants.”

This is the constitution of Islamic preaching. It lavishes in all aspects of freedom of belief and choice, there is no compulsion. Among the facts supporting this true teachings is that Christian Arabs remained enjoying their rights.

The Caliph ’Umar ibn Al-Khattab never differentiated between the victory of Christianity and Muslims. It is known that Christians in Levant demanded the support of Islamic armies to save them from the tyranny of Romans and to put forth the justice among them because the divine message of Islam obligates Muslims to propagate justice among people regardless of their faiths and beliefs. We would explain what is meant by Jizyah, in Islam it is a tax paid by non-Muslims to Muslims in order that Muslims defend them and protect them.

 It was not a punishment at all, at the same time Islam allowed the freedom for non-Muslims to perform their rites with mere justice.

The matter was the same for Copts in Egypt. They faced great persecution and torture on the hands of Romans before the Islamic victory. They yearned for Arabs to rescue them, Sir Thomas Arnold described the torture that Copts faced before the Islamic conquests; some Copts were tortured then thrown in sea, others were exiled and other Copts concealed their true beliefs, they appeared to have accepted the resolutions of Khalqadonia Council.

The Islamic conquests in Egypt brought a life of freedom for them. The muslim leader Amr Ibn Al-As left them free but paying the Jizia. He left them free to perform their rites. He ended up tyranny and torture in Egypt on the hands of Roman rule. Amr Ibn Al-As never touched the churches   or committed acts of vandalism. It is clear that the status of Copts at the early days of their rules was moderate and balanced.

There is no evidence that they did renegade their old religion yet they embraced Islam on large scale not because of any kind of persecution or pressures from the Muslim rulers (Call to Islam: 123:142). Therefore, Copts enjoyed great freedom after they suffered on the hands of the emperor Justinian who killed from Alexandrian Copts about 200,000 citizens.

The fact that Copts embraced Islam without compulsion also is clear in many countries that had Islamic conquests. This can be found in the message written by the Patriarch Ishi Yabh III who sent it to the Bishop Samaan-the archbishop of Persia-where he laments that many people left their Christian heritage and embraced Islam, he said,”The Arabs whom God granted them many gifts and powers, as you know they are living among us, However, they are not fighting the Christian faith, but on the contrary, given enough on our religion, and they honored our monks , and the Saints of God, They are generous with  churches and monasteries, Why, then, your people abandoned their faith to embrace the Arab’s faith? Why this does happen in a time where Arabs did not compel them to embrace their faith- as the people did admit themselves -. Arabs have pledged to keep them safe preserved if they only paid them a part of from their business)! ”

Islam did not only keep the dignity of non-Muslims only but there are some Muslim rulers who exaggerated in tributing Christians and Jews till they made them assume higher positions in the states where there were some non-Muslim ministers and attendants whether in the Abbasid state  in Baghdad or the Fatimid state  in Egypt or the Caliphate in Andalusia.

Moreover, Saladin Al-Ayoubi who battled against the crusaders, never treated the Christians as aggressors although they really plundered the land, yet he was tolerant with them, he made tax cuts for them, appointed some of them as ministers and exchangers. They enjoyed a great era of freedom during the Caliphate of Saladin.

No body embraced Islam under pressures or swords, but it was the tolerant faith that attracted people to embrace it as a result great number of people reverted to Islam willingly. If the history mentions a story about any non-Muslim who embrace Islam, they were very rare accidents and surely, they were individual accidents. However, the other faiths witnessed compulsion in embracing these faiths like the when the King of France Charlemagne imposed the Christian Baptism by sword while the King of Norway Olaf used to slay any Viking  who ever refuses to embrace Christianity, or cut his hands and legs, also there is another fanatic Christian group that called itself “Brothers of Sword”.

Those who believe that Islam spread by sword are wrong because any religion relies on sword is a weak religion and Islam is not a weak religion. This is evident when invaders who invaded Islamic countries and conquered Muslims embraced the religion of Islam. Although the fact implicates that these people would make Muslims leave their religion and embrace theirs, but the opposite happened.

Pagan Seljuk who invaded the countries behind river, Iraq until they were able to overrun most of Islamic land, these conquistadors were attracted to Islam and its tolerance until they embraced it, then they became Muslim Sultans. Moreover, the Tatar embraced Islam  who were before Islam  barbarians, blood thirsty and they invaded Muslim countries, cancelled caliphates, mutilated people and massacred  many. But when they knew Islam, it changed their nature, refined their manners until they made civilization and art known as the Mongolian arts.

Who can believe that such killers who spilled the blood of many Muslims would embrace Islam? They made the greatest atrocities in history. Ibn Athir describes how they changed mosques to stables, torn the Qur’an, demolished mosques in Samarqand and Balkh, He stated, “I spent many years can not bear remembering these atrocities as I detested them as they were abominable for me,  who dares to announce the death of Islam To Muslims? Who can remember these atrocities? I wish I have never been born, I wish I had died before that. Many friends ordered me to relate it and record it. I say this was the greatest atrocity that never occurred in any days before, it afflicted all people especially Muslims, If any one can say that since the creation of Adam and Eve there have never occurred any atrocity like that, then he  is saying the  ultimate truth.

(Ibn Al-Athir: accidents of the year 617 Hijrah).
Who can believe that such barbarians could embrace Islam voluntarily although they were the triumphed part in the battle?!

Islam did not only attract the pagan Seljuk and Tatar only but it attracted Crusaders who came to fight Muslims, they embraced Islam voluntarily. When Christian soldiers were invading Southeast of Asia in their way to Jerusalem, Christian Greeks over heard them and they informed Muslim Turks about their locations.

 Thereupon, Muslim Turk attacked them and defeated these soldiers. They were in a miserable state and many of them were about to die, yet Muslim Turks helped them, treated the sick ones, fed those who were hungry and showed them mere generosity. Moreover, some Muslims bought French currencies to give them to the miserable crusaders. There was a great difference between the treatment of Muslim Turks and the Christian Greeks who showed no kindness with their own fellow people. Many of crusaders embraced the religion of Islam. Their number estimated three thousands.

These historical evidences prove that the majority who embraced Islam chose it willingly. This is an evident that Islam did not spread by sword, but because of its strong faith and that it appeals to every mind.

How could it be that Islam spread by sword while historians said that the number of Muslims in conquered countries did not exceed the two thirds, if sword was the mean for propagating Islam, there would have never been any non-Muslim after at least one hundred years.

Therefore, Islam did not spread by sword but with its strong faith and tolerance, how can we interpret the great number of people who embraced Islam in India, China, Malaya, Java, part of eastern India and Middle Africa? How can we explain the phenomenon that millions in Russia, Poland, and Lithuania in north Europe embraced Islam? How can we explain the same in Guinea?? Did the swords of Muslims expanded to reach these regions on Earth?? No lunatic or rational have said that!!

Islam knew its way in these regions thanks to Muslim preachers who were unarmed, but they were armed by faith and tolerance. Many people embraced Islam as a result of this but at the same time Muslims were being massacred in Spain and they faced all kinds of unprecedented persecution in history. At this period of time, any one dares saying, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is a messenger of Allah” was massacred until Islam and Muslims vanished from Spain.

 But Islam was winning more lands again in Sumatra and Malaya. There is a great difference between bigotry that massacres Muslims in their own lands and the tolerance of a faith that attracts citizens in non-Islamic countries to embrace Islam.

Some people may think that adversaries that afflicted Muslims in Andalusia were a result of pre-bigotry or for any kind of persecution by Muslims, yet history never recorded any accident of that.

Muslims never persecuted people of Spain or forced them to embrace Islam at the time of conquests. Muslims showed mere tolerance towards Spaniards. Muslims have established churches and monasteries for monks and nuns, they appointed non-Muslims in many positions in the state.

 Islam protected Christians in Andalusia; they never persecuted them, despite this, Spaniards eliminated Islam and Muslims from Andalusia through massacres that were inspired by fanatic spirits.

Islam spread the same way in Constantinople like Andalusia through tolerance. The Turkish ruler never compelled any one to embrace Islam, yet Islam spread justice and peace. These are not the words of Muslim historians but they are the testimonies of non-Muslims themselves; a Byzantine historian described the leader Bayazid who was very tolerant with his Christian citizens.

 They made them love him, attend his council freely. Also he describes Murad II who was famous of his justice and fighting corruption that prevailed at the time of the Greek emperors. He used to punish severely any one of his attendants who dares to treat citizens with oppression.

Muslim Turks never interfered in the credo of their Christian citizens; they never dared to propagate Islam by sword. The Patriarch of Antioch “Macarius” described in a long speech how Muslims were tolerant, he said cursing the Catholic Polish people who massacred Orthodox saying, “Long live the State of Turks, they take from us the Jizyah (tax paid by Non-Muslims to Muslims in order that Muslims protect them) and they never interfere in other’s faiths whether they were Christians, Jews, or Samaritans while these damned Polish are not satisfied with the tax they take from their fellow Christians though we serve them they put their fellows under the rule of the tyrant Jews who do not allow people to establish churches, and refuse that any vicar would see the secrets of their religion.” 

Under the shade of Islamic tolerance, the attendants of Eastern Church embraced Islam without any kind of compulsion; they admired the tolerant credo of Islam that is far away from complications. Islam was their only way out from Polish heresies; as a result many Albanians, Bosnians and Serbs embraced Islam.

Asia was the same like Europe; Islam did not spread by sword. In Persia, the Zoroastrian Priests were tyrants in the civil state; they persecuted other religions like Buddhists, people embracing Manichaeism, Christians, Jews and others.

 Yet when Muslim Conquistadors entered the region they pledged people in this land religious freedom for all sects, and treated them as if they were people of divine scriptures. Muslim Conquistadors were satisfied with taking the jizyah only.

Gradually people started to embrace Islam especially craftsmen and workers. They were satisfied to embrace Islam because it was full of tolerance, monotheism, void of all pagan rites that seemed abominable for them and their priests were tyrant ones.

If some people in north India embraced Islam fearing conquests, the matter was different in South India, where millions embraced Islam as a result of good relations between Muslim traders who traveled to this region and the Indian rulers who admired the manners and the treatment of Muslims.

Undoubtedly, the prosperity in this region as a result of Arabs’ activities and their turnout for purchasing goods from this region had a great role in making relations between Muslims and the natives. This helped in the propagation of Islam among the people of this region without any sword being unsheathed.
There is a great man who played a momentous role in propagating Islam he was Khawaga Ma`inul Din Khashti who preached for Islam through persuasion and good wisdom.

There are also many preachers  who strained in Islamic preaching in India through peaceful means and reason. As a result, thousands turned Muslims in the Indian peninsula, among them were Nadr Shah, died in 1039, Sayed Ibrahim Shahid, Shah `Abd Al-hamid died in 1600, Sheik Shams Al-Din, Mamba Malyka and many others we can not count them in these little pages.

Islam spread in Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and Philippines and many other places through preaching and calls without spilling one blood drop yet it was through the Muslim traders who made contacts with the indigenous people at the same time they were preaching for their religion, or through the preachers who went for preaching for Islam as a result thousand of people embraced Islam for its tolerance in a very short time.

 If the preacher was able to persuade a king the king embraces Islam then invites all his attendants to embrace the religion, then they embrace it in short time.

From the nice stories about people who embraced Islam was that the story of the King Quidah in Malaya. It happened that an Arab scientist called Sheikh Abdullah visited the Rajah (king) and asked about the common religion among people in this region, the Rajah said, “It is the religion of our ancestors, we all worship idols” The Sheikh said, “Haven’t your Excellency heard about the religion of Islam and Qur’an that was revealed By Allah to Muhammad, where it nullified all previous religion?”
The Sheikh kept explaining for the Rajah the teachings of Islam-he was a cheerful preacher who used elegant style- until the king became persuaded with the teachings.

 In a very short time, he gave his orders to collect all idols made from all materials whether gold, mud, or woods than ordered his attendants to burn them .

 After the king embraced Islam, his family and his attendants then all his people hurried in embracing Islam. They all pounced upon learning Islam with great happiness and eagerness. The king was not satisfied with embracing Islam only yet he changed his name from “Bra Ong Maha Wangsa” to an Islamic name “Muzlif Shah”.

Then mosques were established in the areas of high population. Through all these peaceful means, Islam spread in all the corners of Asia.

Africans also embraced Islam through preachers and traders. Muslim preachers found that Blacks were aware of many facts about God and man, besides Islam is the religion of simplicity and the nature, that’s why Africans pounced upon embracing Islam, as it does not differentiate between a Black and White, that’s why European missionaries failed to attract them to Christianity because the Christianized Black African feels deep inside that his fellow men in Christianity belong to other race, color and civilization that he does not belong to.

This difference hurts him.
Some European writers argue that turnout from the blacks part towards Islam is attributed to the fact that being a Muslim, it does not mean that you will leave your nationality, or there will be a topple in the social life, or it will undermine the power of family or group moreover, there is no gap at all between a preacher in Islam and the one he reverts to Islam, all are equal in front of Lord just only the pious deeds. Both apply the concept of confraternity.

Islam provides a higher and transcendental concept about Man in the surrounding world; it emancipates his followers from the belief in superstitious and myths.
Islam spread in Africa as if light spread among darkness as the Africans feel that this is their natural religion as European writers themselves say. Islam does not obligate people to embrace it by force or sword.

 We have elucidated how Islam spread in the four corners of earth without force but by the strong creed, tolerance and its teachings that meets the needs of human soul. Islam links between Human and God, guides to the right path in life and it is the light and safety in the hereafter.

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