One of the most widespread misconceptions about Islam is that Muslims spread the religion by the sword. The enemies of Islam regularly spread false propaganda against it by claiming that violence and coercion are the reason for the massive population of Muslims in the world today. This smear against the Islamic faith seeks to portray Islam as a religion of violence and intolerance. Hence, some people wrongly consider Muslims as inherently violent due to the falsehoods spread against the pure ideology of Islam.
Islam spread far and wide because it’s the true, perfect religion, not because of the sword
An unbiased look at history will emphatically debunk the myth that Islam spread by force and violence. The facts of history prove that it was the purity of Islam that drew people towards it. The perfect nature of the faith, along with the noble conduct of its adherents, has played an immense role in persuading masses of people to enter the true religion.
Anyone who examines the reality of the incredible spread of Islam without any agenda will have to admit that the tremendous growth of the Ummah (Muslim community) is not due to relentless violence and coercion. Moreover, it becomes evident to any sincerely impartial observer that the purity of Islam, adherence to its sublime teachings by those who are pious, and the preaching of the righteous believers have all been essential to the remarkable rise of Islam over the centuries since its advent.
What is Islam’s approach to inviting people to the truth?
Islam categorically forbids the forcing of someone to accept it as their faith. As Allah tells us in Surah Al-Baqarah, we should not force anyone to convert to Islam. Islam categorically opposes coercing people to enter Islam. The Holy Quran explicitly forbids compelling anyone to become a Muslim. Hence, forcing a person to accept Islam against his or her will is prohibited in the foremost primary source of Islamic law. Islam’s opposition to forced conversions emphatically proves that any such action is in violation of the faith’s teachings itself.
Islam’s way of preaching to disbelievers is in stark contrast to the myth of Islam spreading by the sword. The correct method of calling people to accept Islam does not involve any coercion. On the contrary, as we see in Surah An-Nahl, Allah tells the Prophet (PBUH) to call mankind to Islam with wisdom and fair preaching, and debate in a good way. Therefore, Islam’s approach to preaching (Dawah) completely goes against the erroneous belief that the religion spread by the sword.
It is not the sharpness of the sword that convinces masses of people to enter Islam. Rather, it is the clarity and perfection of Islam’s crystal-clear message of pure monotheistic faith and the sound reasoning behind it that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in much of the world. Demonstrating the noble principles of Islam through our actions is an excellent way of bringing people to Islam.
Some facts about how Islam spread (not via the sword)
The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia. However, there was no Muslim army that forced Indonesians to accept Islam on a colossal scale through the power of the sword. It was the virtuous message of Islam that won the hearts of the Indonesians. This led to their nation becoming the largest Muslim nation in the world. Malaysia is also a nation with a majority-Muslim population. There was also no war that led to widespread forced conversion of the Malaysian people to Islam.
Many nations used to have Islamic leadership but no longer have it. Nonetheless, the general populations of these countries have not abandoned Islam. Hence, it is clear that Islam is deeply embedded in the hearts of the Muslims in these countries. Thus, it is not a religion that Muslims forced them to accept.
It’s a fact of history that Muslims ruled Spain (Andalusia) for some 800 years. However, the Christians and Jews of Spain were free to practice their religion. This fact clearly contradicts the dishonest narrative of Muslims forcing people to convert to Islam by using the power of the sword. Christians and Jews have remained in Muslim nations in the Middle East for centuries as well.
Meanwhile, Muslims ruled India for some 1000 years. If they wanted, they could have forced many hundreds of millions of Indians to accept Islam. However, the vast majority of Indians remain non-Muslims. Currently, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America and Europe, although Muslims are nowhere close to being the majority community in either. The only logical conclusion is that people are flocking to Islam in substantial numbers out of their own free will because they discover the truth in it.
In Islamic law, Muslims must protect minorities. There are still numerous places of worship of non-Muslims in the Muslim world. According to Islamic law, non-Muslims are also permitted to have their own courts. These courts apply the family laws which are decided by the religious minorities themselves. Hence, minorities have freedom and security in Islam. Islam deems sacred the life and wealth of every citizen in an Islamic state. This principle applies to both believers and non-believers.
There are still religious minorities living in Muslim countries today. Minorities in the Islamic world still have their places of worship. Currently, without wielding any sword, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America, where Muslims themselves are a minority.
Keeping all the evidence in mind, the only logical conclusion one can reach is that Islam did not spread by force. The sword did not make the global population of Islam and Muslims swell to well over a billion. Minorities in Muslim nations were not all coerced into accepting Islam. Nor did Muslim rulers force all non-Muslims to become Muslims, as we see in the likes of India.