Islam — The Religion of Peace (It was Never Spread at the Point of the Sword)
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam)
The Light (Pakistan), 8th/16th May 1976 Issue (Vol. 56, Nos. 18–19, pp. 1–2)
It has been supposed that Islam was propagated by the sword. As we have seen, temperamentally, Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] was not inclined to war; he had not once handled the sword in actual fighting up to the fifty-fifth year of his age, and this in a country where, owing to constant internecine warfare, fighting had become a vocation for the people. The religion which he preached, Islam1, was a religion of peace, laying stress on prayer to God and the service of humanity, and he was required to preach this religion; to deliver the message, not to enforce it on others:
‘‘There is no compulsion in religion.” (The Holy Quran, 2:256).
“The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe and let him who please disbelieve.” (The Holy Quran, 18:29).
“We have truly shown him (man) the way; he may be thankful or unthankful.” (The Holy Quran, 76:3).
But war was being forced on Prophet Muhammad, and it was his duty, he was told, to defend his oppressed community who had twice fled their homes from the persecutions of a cruel enemy to a distant place:
“Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is able to assist them.” (The Holy Quran, 22:39).
Why were they expelled from their homes? Why was war made on them? What was their offence? The Quran replies in the following Words:
“Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah.” (The Holy Quran, 22:40).
To worship Allah, to say that He is our Lord, was an offence in this land, the punishment for which was that the men who worshipped God and the places where He was worshipped, should be destroyed. So the Muslims were required to defend all houses of worship, whether they belonged to the Jews or the Christians or their own community:
“If Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters, and churches, and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered, would have been pulled down.’’ (The Holy Quran, 22:40).2
There was no question of converting anyone to Islam by force; it was the enemy that wanted to turn back the Muslims by force from Islam:
“They will not cease fighting, you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can.” (The Holy Quran, 2:217).
Therefore, the object of the wars undertaken at the bidding of the Prophet of Arabia was not to cause bloodshed. The Muslims had been expelled from their homes to seek shelter elsewhere and many innocent among them, men and women, had been murdered in cold blood. But their relentless persecutors would not stop there. In obedience to the divine commandment of self-defence, the sword was allowed to be taken up against those who had first drawn the sword. The object of these wars was, therefore, to remedy an evil by abating the bloodshed caused by the persecutors of the believers. Had the Muslims not defended themselves under these circumstances against the outrages of their persecutors, the result would have been the slaughter of more innocent lives, including women and children, and Islam would have been nipped in the bud.
- Islam, literally means “peace” or “submission”. ↩
- The religious freedom which was established by Islam thirteen hundred years ago has not yet been surpassed by the most civilized and tolerant of nations. It deserves to be noted that the lives of Muslims are to be sacrificed not only to stop their own persecution by their opponents and to save their own mosques, but to save churches, synagogues and cloisters as well. ↩