Islam is a Religion of Peace — Early Muslims took up the Sword in Self-Defence
by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
The Young Islam, 1st October 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 9, pp. 1, 4)
From what I have said it is clear that Islam is pre-eminently a religion of peace, and its particular message to the world is a message of peace. But it may be said Islam cannot claim to be a religion of peace inasmuch as it enjoins jihad with the infidels. This charge against the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] is absolutely false. Islam never enjoined its followers to compel non-Muslims to accept Islam or to propagate their faith by means of the sword.
To anyone who has even a surface knowledge of the early history of Islam it must be quite clear that the thirteen years of our Holy Prophet’s life at Mecca were years of such continued suffering, such unremitted persecution, and such hard trial as none but the elect of God, who have their sole trust in Him, can bear. During this time many of his dearest Companions [rta] were cruelly put to death and not a few were subjected to excruciating tortures. Instances are not wanting in which the Holy Prophet himself was pelted with stones by his unbelieving opponents to such an extent that he was literally bathed in blood from head to foot.
When all these relentless persecutions failed to stop the progress of Islam it was planned as a last measure to exterminate it by murdering the Holy Prophet himself, and with this object the house in which the Prophet lived was besieged. Then Almighty God revealed to His Prophet that the time had come when he should leave the city. In obedience to this Divine commandment the Holy Prophet left Mecca with only one Companion, Abu Bakr [rta]. What a wonderful miracle that although hundreds of men were lying in wait for him and watching his movements, not one of them could see the Prophet as he left his house and passed through them.
As he left the city behind him, he stood on a stone, and facing Mecca addressed it in these words:
“Thou, O Mecca, was my dear home and my beloved city. Had not my people driven me from thee, I would not have left thee.”
Then was fulfilled what some of the scriptures had announced long before, viz., that the promised Prophet would be expelled from his home.
All this, however, did not satisfy the unbelievers, and they pursued the Holy Prophet to execute their evil designs. But Almighty God saved him from all their mischief and the Holy Prophet succeeding in effecting a secret flight to Medina. Even then the opponents of Islam did not relax their exertions to uproot it, and had it not been for the special protection and assistance of Almighty God they could have easily managed to cut it off with a single stroke. The enemy numbered hundreds of thousands while the Muslim Companions of the Holy Prophet living at Mecca did not exceed seventy, and even these had already left the city.
Certainly, this was not the time when the Holy Prophet and his Companions could have taken up the sword to compel their opponents to accept Islam, and yet it was at this juncture that permission was given to the Muslims to fight with their enemies. The persecutions of the Quraish had reached their climax and nothing, not even the flight from Mecca, could deter from doing their worst towards the Muslims. They were now, in fact, more determined than ever to blot out every Muslim from the face of the earth and thus to extirpate Islam in such a manner that no trace of it should be left in the world. They were ready to deal this deathblow with the sword when Almighty God sent down His permission to His Holy Prophet to take the defensive. It was in self-defence and to repel the aggressive attacks of the opponents that the taking up of arms was allowed in Islam, and the Holy Quran is very clear on this point. The following verse bears testimony to this:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُدٰفِعُ عَنِ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یُحِبُّ کُلَّ خَوَّانٍ کَفُوۡرٍ ﴿٪۳۸﴾
“Surely God will repel (the mischief and oppression of the unbelievers) from those who believe. Surely God does not love anyone who is unfaithful, the ungrateful” [The Holy Quran, 22:38].
(The Promised Messiah)