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Islam and the Sword

Under category : His Mercy upon his Enemies
11085 2007/11/29 2024/05/18
Article translated to : العربية Español Русский

it is strange to find people, with hearts filled with hatred, accusing prophet muhammad, pbuh, of violence and cruelty; or that he propagated the religion of islam with swords!

but the truth was said by great men of knowledge, science, and wisdom. they responded to and rejected these false accusations.

first response: scholar louis sedillot

one of the most eminent defenders of the prophet, a man who proved the falsehood of the accusations, is the french historian louis sedillot. he writes: “it is such a distortion of facts in history when some writers accuse prophet muhammad, pbuh, of cruelty. () they forget that he spared no effort in eliminating the inherited desire for revenge between arabs; despite the fact that revenge was highly esteemed in arabia like fencing was in europe. they don’t read the qur’anic verse by which the prophet broke the horrible habit of burying newborn girls alive. they never think of the pardon he granted to his worst enemies after the conquest of makka. neither do they consider the mercy he showed to many tribes during war. () do they not know that he never misused his power in fulfilling the desire for cruelty? if any of his companions committed anything wrong, he would stop them and correct them. it is well known that he refused the opinion of his close companion ‘omar bin al-khattab on killing the prisoners of war. when the time came to punish bani quraydha, he left the judgment to sa‘d bin mu‘ath who used to be their ally. he also forgave hamza’s killer and never refused any request for kindness and forgiveness.[1]

second response: dr karen armstrong

researcher karen armstrong writes in the introduction to her book muhammad: a biography of the prophet: “it is wrong to assume, as some say, that islam holds violence and intolerance in its essence. the fact is that islam is a global religion, and is not, at all, characterised by any aggressive eastern attributes against the west.[2]

some westerners found that these allegations are caused by old resentments. armstrong continues: “we, in the west, are in need to free ourselves from some old resentment. and perhaps it is good to start with prophet muhammad, pbuh. he was a very compassionate man. () he founded a religion and a cultural tradition that was not based on the sword, despite the western myth, and whose name ‘islam’ signifies peace and reconciliation.[3]

third response: german writer dison

german thinker dison says: “it is a mistake for one to believe what others are trying to promote about islam, that its progress and establishment is firstly owed to the sword. the first reason behind the spread of islam is the unique religious brotherhood and the new social life it prepared and called for. it is also owed to the honourable life led by prophet muhammad, pbuh, and the caliphs afterwards. their lives were full of virtue and sacrifice to a level that gave islam a great unbeatable power.[4]

fourth response: dutch thinker dozy

the dutch scholar dozy clarifies and assures that prophet muhammad, pbuh, did not force anyone to embrace islam. he says with few but decisive words: “it was not forced on anyone![5]

there is not a single proof that prophet muhammad, not even for once, forced any human being to embrace islam, not even with emotional pressure. then how is it true that he used violence and swords?!

fifth response: historian gustav lobon

great historian gustav lobon argues: “islam did not spread by the sword, but only by preaching. only by that was it embraced by the people who defeated the arabs recently, such as turks and mongols. the quran reached india; the place where arabs were only passers-by. () and it wasnt any less spread in china in which arabs conquered no land.[6]

he adds: “power was not a factor in the spread of islam; thats because arabs left the people they vanquished free to practice their own religion.[7]

sixth response: italian writer laura veccia vaglieri

laura veccia vaglieri expresses: “islam does not allow drawing a sword except in self-defence; it utterly forbids hostility. the law of islam allows battle in defence of conscience freedom to establish peace and ensure safety and order.[8]

that was what happened in several battles such as the battle of badr (17th ramadan 2 a.h. / 13th march 624 a.d.), the battle of uhud (shawwal 3 a.h. / april 624 a.d.), and the battle of al-ahzab (shawwal 5 a.h. / march 627 a.d.). they all were battles in self-defence.

other battles such as the battle of qaynuqa (saturday 15th shawwal 2 a.h. / 9th april 624 a.d.), the battle of nadir ( rabi awwal 4 a.h. / august 265 a.d.), the battle of qurayza (dhi al-qi‘da 5 a.h. / april 627 a.d.), and the battle of khaybar (muharram 7 a.h. / may 628 a.d.) were all results of treachery, allying against muslims, violation of agreements, and attempts of assassinating the prophet, pbuh.

seventh response: scholar thomas carlayle

thomas carlyles words are sufficient to prove that the prophet, pbuh, did not propagate the message of islam with a sword. he says: “accusing muhammad, pbuh, of relying on the sword for people to respond to his preaching is incomprehensible nonsense![9]

he explains further: “much has been said of muhammads propagating his religion by the sword. () if we take this for an argument of the truth or falsehood of a religion, there is a radical mistake in it. the sword indeed: but where will you get your sword! every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one. in one mans head alone, there it dwells as yet. one man alone of the whole world believes it; there is one man against all men. that he takes a sword, and try to propagate with that, will do little for him. you must first get your sword! on the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can. we do not find, of the christian religion either, that it always disdained the sword, when once it had got one. charlemagnes conversion of the saxons was not by preaching. i care little about the sword: i will allow a thing to struggle for itself in this world, with any sword or tongue or implement it has, or can lay hold of. we will let it preach, and pamphleteer, and fight, and to the uttermost bestir itself, and do, beak and claws, whatsoever is in it; very sure that it will, in the long-run, conquer nothing which does not deserve to be conquered. what is better than itself, it cannot put away, but what only what is worse. in this great duel, nature herself is umpire, and can

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