There shall be no Compulsion in Religion

by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din

The Light (Pakistan), 16th December 1921 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 2–3)

In these days of so called civilisation, which tends in the direction of exploiting weaker nations and sapping the very blood of their lives, we shall do well to reproduce and report the precepts and examples of the Holy Prophet Mohammad [Muhammad] (may Allah shower his blessings on him).

He was not only a prophet, but also a king and thus a guardian of the lives and liberties of his subjects whether Muslim or non-Muslim. Before the subjugation of Arabia, while the prophet was subjected to a persecution of the severest type, he preached and proclaimed that

“in religion, there shall be no compulsion.”

On his becoming a king his precepts and proclamations were put to the severest test, and they proved to have proceeded from a sincere heart. He found it as easy to live up to his religious pronouncements, as it had been easy for him, while being bitterly persecuted, to protest against oppression.

On assuming the reins of government, he did not try to juggle with his old proclamation and devise means of inflicting punishment on his persecutors or extend outrageous treatment to the vanquished Christians and Jews who lay entirely at his mercy. A long spell of persecution, which he and his devoted disciples had suffered, justified a ruthless punishment of the enemies of Islam. On the contrary, the Holy Prophet, who was

“not sent but as a Mercy to the nations of the world,”

practised wholesale and unlimited forgiveness.

Hinda, wife of Abu Sufyon [Abu Sufyan], who had offended the Holy Prophet beyond description by her inhuman and outrageous savagery, in cutting off the nose and ears of the Prophet’s fallen uncle Hamza, and taking out his liver to be strung together and worn as a trophy, shared the same chivalrous treatment which was shown to men and women in general. In due course of time, the Christians and Jews were granted charters, conferring upon them the full liberty of conscience and observance of their religious tenets without any let or hindrance. Nobility of his nature and sincerity of purpose thus displayed themselves in showing the most remarkable and enlightened tolerance and justice that humanity can boast of. The Christians and Jews enjoyed, as they have been enjoying in these days under the Turks, privileges which had never been granted to them by their Christian and Jewish king and rules. The noblest document issued in favour of Christians declared that

“any Moslem [Muslim] violating and abusing what was therein ordered, should be considered as a violator of God’s testament, a transgressor of His commandments, and a slighter of His faith.”

“The Prophet undertook himself, and enjoined on his followers, to protect the Christians, to defend their churches, the residence of their priests, and to guard them from injuries. They were not to be unfairly taxed; no bishop was to be driven out of his bishopric; no Christian was to be forced to reject his religion, no monk was to be expelled from his monastery; no pilgrim was to be detained from his pilgrimage. Nor were Christian churches to be pulled down for the sake of building mosques or houses for the Moslems [Muslims]. Christian women married to Moslems [Muslims] were to enjoy their own religion, and not to be subjected to compulsion or annoyance of any kind on that account. If Christians should stand in need of assistance for the repair of their churches or monasteries, or any other matter pertaining to their religion the Moslems [Muslims] were to assist them. Should the Moslems [Muslims] be engaged in hostility with outside Christians, no Christian resident among the Moslems [Muslims] should be treated with contempt on account of his creed. Any Moslem [Muslim] so treating a Christian should be accounted recalcitrant to the Prophet.” (Sayyid Amir Ali’s, “Spirit of Islam”).

This generosity was extended to the Christians by the Prophet at the time when his greatness and glory had reached their height, when he was possessed of great power, when he could justly revenge all the wrongs upon them. This is how one should rule his subjects, professing a religion other than his own.

Let Christian rulers of Muslim subjects ponder over this illustrious example and remember how the Prophet has laid them under profound obligation by practices like those cited above, and by calling upon his votaries not only to believe in Jesus of the Christians but also to invoke God’s blessings on him. At his noble instance no less than forty millions of Musalmans [Muslims] bless the memory of Jesus. But to our horror and surprise, all this is ill re-paid. The Christians, who follow gentle Jesus, who are commanded by him to behave like harmless lambs, and who are also told to love their enemies, are acquitting themselves in a very undesirable manner. To proscribe what has been prescribed in the Holy Quran is interference in religion on the part of a government; and very recently the Christian Government in India prevented from publication the Quranic pronouncement, that a Muslim who kills a fellow Muslim dies the death of an infidel and is consigned to hell. This is tangible interference of the gravest nature, and no wonder it has shocked and alarmed the Indian Muslims. Instead of showing respect to their Muslim subjects, who fought in France and elsewhere as their allies and supporters, they outraged their religious feelings by shattering the khilafat into small, petty, and powerless States, and thus rendering them incapable of defending the khilafat or protecting the holy city of Mecca.

This is how solemn pledges made by Mr. Lloyd George [Prime Minister of UK (In office: 1916–22)] in the hour of sore need have been redeemed; this is how the reputed proclamation of Queen Victoria of good memory has been respected, this is how the precepts of Jesus have been carried out, and this is how the generosity of the Holy Prophet of Islam has been repaid.