Disqus for ومضات إيمانية

الخميس، 10 أبريل، 2014

Islam and the sword of intellect

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.” 
Dr.Joseph Adam Pearson rightly says, ’People who worry that nuclear weaponry willone day fall in the hands of the Arabs, fail to realize that the Islamic bombhas been dropped already, it fell the day MUHAMMED (pbuh) was born’


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: 

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (Quran 2:256) 

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 connection: 

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.” (Quran 16:125) 

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 populations. 

• 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. 

Conclusion 
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

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: 

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (Quran 2:256) 

The noted historian De Lacy O’Leary wrote:[1] “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 connection: 

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.” (Quran 16:125)


Tolerance In Islam It is a striking fact of history that within three centuries, after Prophet Muhammad started preaching Islam in Mecca, Islam spread over the area of three continents; Asia, Africa and Europe. There are many reasons why people have been, from past to the present embracing Islam. Muhammad Asad, a Jewish convert to Islam, says:
“Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other, nothing lacking, with the result of an absolute balance and solid composure. Everything in the teaching and postulates of Islam is in its proper place.” (Islam at the Crossroads, p.5)

In the race for the propagation of religion, Islam has always won over Christianity, in spite of the latter’s sophisticated and well-organized missionary activities. This has been the case in the course of fourteen centuries. As a result, most of the Christian missionaries started depicting Islam as a regressive, vulgar religion of savage people which was spread by the sword.

Yet, an unbiased Western Christian writer has written:

“…We may feel certain that if Western Christians, instead of the Saracens and the Turks, had won the dominion over Asia, there would be today not a trace left of the Greek Church, and that they would never have tolerated Muhammadanism as the 'infidels' have tolerated Christianity there. We (Christians) enjoy the fine advantage of being far better versed than others in the art of killing, bombarding and exterminating the Human Race." (Bayle P., Dictionary, 'the article Mahomed', 1850)

Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine. Islam calls for believing in only One God, worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. Within a few years after the dawn of Islam, great civilizations and universities were flourishing under its influence, for according to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman”.

The zeal for understanding God’s creative power, as realized in the universe, led the followers of this religion to new ideas, new realms of knowledge and great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history.

We find that the spread of Islam was not limited to its miraculous early expansion outside of Arabia. During later centuries, the Turks embraced Islam peacefully, as did a large number of the people of the Indian subcontinent, as well as the people of Malaysia and Indonesia.

In Africa too, Islam spread during the past two centuries, while under the mighty power of European colonial rulers. Today Islam continues to grow, not only in Africa, but also in Europe and the Americas as well. Islam is the fastest growing religion now, with a following of about one and a half billion people.

Mr. Lamaan Ball, editor of Ask About Islam, adds:

Although in the early years of the expansion of the Islamic state much land came under the rule of the Muslims, conversion to Islam of its inhabitants took several generations. This is because conversion by force is explicitly forbidden in the Qur'an:

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

In more recent times such as in the case of Indonesia, conversions to Islam happened in the absence of an Islamic state and where the rulers were Dutch Christians. Commentators and historians have to acknowledge the fact of Islam's peaceful spead even if they dislike it. A classic example of such a grudging acknowledgment is in the book "The Legacy of Islam" edited by Joseph Schacht with C.E. Bosworth (1974) p145:

"... the general picture of the spread of Islam so far as we know it. This is often said to resemble an oil stain: gradual yet effective. Many, too, have praised its peaceful nature. Again so far as we know, the acceptance of Islamic doctrine has been a gradual process, partly thanks to the practice of conversion prior to indoctrination"

The false allegations that Islam was spread by the sword is just part of unfounded propaganda. To which the best reply is perhaps the Qur'an itself. In particular this verse comes to mind:

Their intention is to extinguish God's Light (by blowing) with their mouths: But God will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). (Surah 61 Verse 8)

Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Young India – 1920:

‘I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place in Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble.’