Anecdotes from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad

by Mumtaz Ahmad Faruqui

No Compulsion in Religion

Says the Holy Quran:

“There is no compulsion in religion… the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error. So, whoever disbelieves in the devil and believes in Allah, he indeed lays hold on the firmest handle which shall never break. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.” (The Holy Quran, 2:256)

1. The following instructions were given to the troops dispatched against the Byzantines by the Holy Prophet:

“In avenging the injuries inflicted upon us, molest not the harmless inmates of domestic seclusion; spare the weakness of the females; injure not the infant at the breast, nor those who are ill in bed. Abstain from demolishing the dwellings of the unresisting inhabitants; destroy not the means of their subsistence, nor their fruit trees, and touch not the palm.”

2. In the battle of Hunain, six thousand men of the Hawazin tribe (infidels) were taken prisoners, and they were all set free simply as an act of favour. Seventy prisoners were taken in the Battle of Badr and it was only in this case that ransom was exacted, but the prisoners were granted their freedom while the war with the Meccan infidels was yet in progress. In no case was the religion of Islam forced upon them, nor was it offered as a price for their freedom.

3. After the conquest of Mecca, the leader of the tribal deputation of Banu Hanifa was Musailima. He accepted Islam along with the others, but on return to his home in Yamama, he apostatised and wrote to the Holy Prophet:

“In prophethood, you and I are partners, hence you keep half the country, while I will rule over the other half.”

The Prophet replied:

“In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, to Musailima the liar. Peace be on those who follow the right path. After this, note that the Earth belongs to Allah and He awards it to any of His bondsmen, as He pleases; and the end of those who fear God is good.”

Even in this letter, there was no threat of punishment; on the other hand, the Prophet sent a responsible man, Rijal, to counsel Musailima to accept Islam again. Musailima refused and started another state within the State and collected an army to fight the Muslims. After the death of the Prophet, the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, sent an army against him, and after a fierce battle Musailima was killed. But it was as a rebel that he was punished, and not because he had become an apostate.