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Was Islam Spread by Sword?

One of the common misconceptions of Islam among non Muslims is that Islam was spread by sword. Many people think that Muslims used forced conversions by either converting or dying and that’s why many people converted to Islam. This article shall show that this is entirely false either through what Islam says or when we look through history.

Islam Started with No Authority to Force People

If Islam was spread through forced conversion, could a single man force many tribes to convert? Islam didn’t start with a king who has strong army, but it started with single man. Prophet Muhammad taught people about Islam in Mecca for 13 years, and although many people followed him, he was opposed by the leaders in Mecca. Prophet Muhammad and his followers were actually tortured to leave Islam not to become Muslims. Then Prophet Muhammad began to look for a tribe who can help him. People in Medina began to follow him. They accepted that Prophet Muhammad shall immigrate to Medina although Prophet Muhammad told them that all Arabs will fight them, and they were actually small tribes. Prophet Muhammad didn’t promise them with any reward in this world. He only promised them that they will go to Paradise if they helped him. For sure this is not an attitude of a city which converted to Islam by forced conversion.

Did Islam Tells Muslims to Force People on Islam?

Holy Quran answers clearly:

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

People might look at early Islamic conquests that they were forced conversions. This is false, because as elaborated in the article: Is Jihad terrorism? that this was to remove any obstacle preventing Muslims from telling people about Islam.

Muslims have no aim except telling people about the right way of God to save them from hell. All what they want is that Islam reaches these people. If the authority ruling the city refused that Muslim scholars enter the city and tell people about Islam, then they are an obstacle against telling people about the right way to God. People have the option either to accept or to reject Islam, but the message should reach them. As said in the previous article about Jihad, if an infection is spread through a city, and some people had the cure for that infection. They wanted this cure to reach people, but the leaders of this city refused this cure to reach people for personal reasons. If an army came and fought these leaders to help this cure reach people? How would they be blamed? If some of the people refused to take the cure, it’s up to them, but the cure must reach people.

Muslims were Never forced to Convert to Islam

Actually when we look through historical facts, we notice that the Islamic societies never dealt with Islam as an invasion that once invaders leave, they return back to their cultures. But actually Islam became their culture. There are countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where Muslim armies have never gone there. These countries are predominantly Muslim countries because they used to deal with Muslim merchants, began to know about Islam and gradually converted to Islam. Even through other Muslim countries, most of the Muslim countries were subjected to occupation by European armies. If these countries really looked as Muslims as invaders, they would have all left Islam once the European armies invade them. It was actually the case that the European armies left these countries, and Islam remained. So how can we say that Islam was spread by sword and forced conversions?