Did Islam spread by the sword? Myth and reality By Dr. Sharif Mohammad
January 18 2019 12:33 AM

Among the most widely believed myths about Islam in the West today is the myth of forcible conversion to Islam. 
Many Westerners believe that Islam is so widespread in the world today simply because of a “holy campaign of terror” carried out by the early Muslims to convert non-Muslims to Islam. They believe that non-Muslims were offered the freedom to choose between two things: Islam or death. 
During a discussion, a Baptist Minister said: “Muslims tend to kill non-Muslims and anyone who disagrees with them”. In a syndicated column appearing in over 30 papers (on July 23, 1994) entitled, ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians Increasing’ the author blames many Muslim countries for persecuting Christians, then he quotes the Qur’an (which means): “There is no compulsion in religion” [Qur’an 2:256] and ends the quote by rudely writing: “Really?” 
How to confront such misconceptions? First, there is no need for us to be apologetic. As Muslims, we should search for the truth and present it as it is. This is how we have been instructed by Allah Almighty (which means): “Say: The truth from your Lord and let him who will believe and let him who will reject”  [Qur’an 18:29] 
Islam is the religion of the Truth and the Qur’an is the Book which testifies to the Truth; Allah Says (what means): “We sent down the Qur’an in Truth and in Truth has it descended”  [Qur’an 17:105] 
And (what means): “Put your trust in Allah for you are on the path of the manifest Truth”  [Qur’an 27:79] 
Therefore, we should ask ourselves first, before we are asked by anyone else: what is the truth? Did Muslims really force others to convert to Islam? Is there any evidence for consistent forcible conversion throughout Islamic history? In fact, there is no such evidence anywhere in the history of Islam. Many distinguished Western historians have attested to this fact -- foremost among whom is Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his book, The Preaching of Islam. Similarly authors like, Marshall G. Hodgson, in his book The Venture of Islam, Albert Hourani in his book, A History of the Arab People, Ira Lapidus in his book, History of Islamic Societies, L.S. Starorianos in his book, A Global History: The Human Heritage, and many others have testified to this. 
On the contrary, there is substantial evidence that Muslims were often seen as liberators of the oppressed people everywhere. 
The question that remains to be answered is: why have so many people chosen Islam in the 1,400 years of its history? Islam has penetrated the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, West Africa, East Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Western China and the Malay Archipelago. In all these regions, Islam replaced so many other well-established religions: Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and Animism. What are the reasons behind the triumph of Islam over all these religions? 
First, Islam is an amazing blend of simplicity and rationality, as Professor Hodgson explains: “Muslims made a personal appeal to people’s religious consciousness. On the level of straight argument, they often put forward the populistic intelligibility of Islam. Muslims commonly ridiculed, in the name of intellectual good sense, the more mythically convoluted teachings of older traditions. This could seem attractively straightforward to people dissatisfied with taking things on faith from a learned priest whose mysteries they could not comprehend. 
A single Creator, to be worshipped by each person for himself, based on revelation that had been given to a famous prophet whom millions already acknowledged. This was at once intelligible and plausible.” 
The unambiguous and uncompromising belief in the Unity, Greatness and Wisdom of God, the Creator of the universe, is unparalleled among other religions. The French professor Edouard Montet said: “The dogma of the unity of God...has always been proclaimed in the Qur’an with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of pure conviction which is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam. A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvellous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.” 
Besides its simple and rational creed, Islam offers an impressive set of rituals, which has gained the admiration and, subsequently, the conversion of many non-Muslims. The second pillar of Islam, Salaah [prayer] has been described as follows by Sir Arnold: “The religion of the Muslim is continuously present with him and, in the daily prayer, manifests itself in a solemn and impressive ritual which cannot leave either the worshipper or the spectator unaffected.” 
In addition to the prayers, the other pillars of Islam, Zakaah [alms tax distributed to the poor], Haj (pilgrimage to Makkah), Siyaam (fasting in Ramadan), have always been factors in attracting many hearts to Islam. To this day, one still meets converts who were impressed by the social justice of Islam, brilliantly expressed in the payment of Zakaah, the unique congregation of the Haj and Siyaam. Thus, it is the union of rationalism and Divine rituals that explains the power that Islam has exercised over the hearts and minds of so many people. 
Islam simply presents the truth in a tangible form, with the help of a miraculous book: the Qur’an. The marvellous power and beauty of the words of the Qur’an have also been a decisive factor in the conversion of many people to Islam. 
The famous Jewish American convert to Islam, Maryam Jameelah, cited the Qur’an as the major factor of her conversion. After a deep study of both the Old Testament and the Qur’an, the contrast between the two scriptures became increasingly evident to her until she firmly believed that the Qur’an was indeed God’s message to the human race. 
A conference of Christian missionaries in 1887 was discussing why Islam has almost swept away Christianity from the Middle East. What did Islam offer these people to forsake Christianity for good? One of the missionaries was insightful enough to say the following: “Islam brought out the fundamental dogmas of the Unity and Greatness of God, that He is Mindful and Righteous. It proclaimed the responsibility of man, a future life, a Day of Judgment and stern retribution to fall upon the wicked, and enforced the duties of prayer, alms giving and fasting. It replaced monkishness by manliness; it gave hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind and recognition to the fundamental facts of human nature.” 
The formidable rationalism and clarity of Islam not only led the Christians of the Middle East to forsake Christianity and embrace Islam in the past, it continues to do so with Christians in the West to the present day. 
A Muslim sister, from California, who was a practicing Christian and an active member in her nearby Presbyterian church, wrote in her conversion story. She said that in spite of her active affiliation with the church, she always had serious questions about the fundamentals of Christianity, which did not make sense to her. She debated her questions with her friends but they never came up with reasonable answers. The church could not give them answers either, but only told them to “have faith”. All her questions were answered when she took a course about Islam. Listen to her words:
“This class brought back all of the concerns that I had about Christianity. As I learned about Islam, all my questions were answered. All of us are not punished for Adam’s original sin. Adam asked God for forgiveness and our Merciful, Loving God forgave him. God doesn’t require a blood sacrifice in payment for sin. We must sincerely ask for forgiveness and amend our ways. Jesus wasn’t God; he was a prophet like all of the other prophets. This answered all of my questions about the trinity and the nature of Jesus. I found a teaching that put everything in its proper perspective and appealed to my heart and my intellect. It seemed natural. It wasn’t confusing. I had been searching and I had found a place to rest my faith.” 
Islam is so strong and so self-assured that it does not need to use force to attract others to it. The moral and intellectual superiority of Islam over all other religions has manifested itself clearly throughout the history of Islam. Despite the ills that Muslims are facing everywhere, Islam continues to be the fastest growing religion on earth. Professor Huston Smith of the MIT in his book, The Religions of Man, says:
“In some areas where Islam and Christianity are competing for converts, Islam is gaining at a rate of 10 to 1.”
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/

Islam stands the test of history

Muslims claims that Islam is the eternal religion. Any claim of this kind invites people to judge its validity on historical grounds. If latter day history testifies to its claim, it stands endorsed, otherwise it must be rejected. Marxism in the 20th century CE is a clear-cut example of historical rejection.
According to his concept of historical determinism, Karl Marx held that modern industrial Capitalism bore within it the seeds of its own destruction. He further observed that according to its own inherent laws, its antithesis would emerge which would destroy it whereupon a new synthesis would come into being. But, quite contrary to his prediction, industrial Capitalism has not only survived, but is making great progress. Historical events have thus buried Marxist theory.
Then there is the case of Adolph Hitler who made grandiose claims that Germans were the “master race” and were destined to rule over all of Europe. The rout of Hitler and his Nazi party at the end of World War II put paid to all such theorising.
But the case of Islam is quite different. Even after a period of more than 1,400 years, Islam has suffered no erosion of its validity. The well known British historian, Edward Gibbon, describes the rise and expansion of Islam as: “one of the most memorable revolutions which has impressed a new and lasting character on the nations of the globe.”
An Indian historian, M.N. Roy, has observed:  “Muhammad must be recognised as by far the greatest of all prophets, before or after him.” He goes on to say that “the expansion of Islam is the most miraculous of all miracles.” (The Historical Role of Islam, pp. 4-5)
The American writer, Michael Hart, in his book, The 100 has made a selection of the 100 most influential persons in history, who have achieved the most outstanding success in this world. Right at the top of this list is the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, (may Allah exalt his mention)  of whom the author writes: “He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both religious and secular levels.”
The great success that Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, had predicted for his mission at the very outset came true. This success came in spite of the stiff opposition which Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, faced right from the beginning, both from within his own family and from the outside world. This was in 610 CE, the year when he first started receiving divine revelations. At this stage he felt totally helpless. But then, in this adverse situation, he received a revelation from Allah, which says (what means): “They want to extinguish Allah’s light with their mouths. But Allah will perfect His light, even though the unbelievers may detest it. It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, so that he may exalt it over all religions, much as the pagans may dislike it.” [Qur’an 61:8-9]
At the very beginning of his prophetic career, the Qur’an declared that Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would certainly succeed in his mission. All his opponents, however powerful they might be, would ultimately be defeated. (This is pointed out at several places in the Qur’an in different wording). In history we find numerous personalities who began their work with towering claims, but none of them achieved the success they envisioned. Throughout human history, Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, is the only exception to this rule, in that his predictions were fulfilled to the fullest extent.
Through the efforts of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his companions, a unique event took place: starting from scratch, they succeeded in extending their influence to the entire populated world of that age. During this brief period, they not only conquered Arabia but also succeeded in crushing the two great empires of their time – the Roman and the Sasanid empires. This exceptional phase in history has been almost universally acknowledged by historians.
The Qur’an was revealed prior to the modern age of knowledge, yet 1,400 years ago at the time of its revelation, the Qur’an declared that the proof of its divine origin lay in its being in complete accordance with historical facts and its consistency with contemporary discoveries and those that might be made in future times. Advances may be made in human knowledge, but they will never contradict Qur’anic statements. To a remarkable degree, latter day history has testified to this. While many statements contained in all the ancient books have been at loggerheads with the latest scientific discoveries, the Qur’an is unique in steering clear of all such contradiction.
As the Qur’an says (which means): “Do they not ponder on the Qur’an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.” [Qur’an 4:82]. (The word “discrepancy” here means inconsistency, that is, a Qur’anic statement not agreeing with eternal knowledge).
Much has been written on this aspect of the Qur’an  in modern times. The French scientist, Maurice Bucaille, has shown in detail in his book, The Bible, The Qur’an and Modern Science, how  the statements contained in the Qur’an are astonishingly in exact accordance with the discoveries of modern science. This shows that the Qur’an perfectly comes up to the scientific standards.
This development of human knowledge in favour of Qur’anic contents is no mere accident. It is another historical proof that the Qur’an is a Book revealed by the Creator of the Universe, Whose Knowledge is not bound by the  limitations of space and time. Hence we find in the Qur’an a unique prediction to this effect (what means): “We will soon show them Our signs in the Universe and in their own souls, until they clearly see that it is the truth.” [Qur’an 41:53]
After completing his comparative study of the Qur’an and modern science, Maurice Bucaille comes to this conclusion:
“In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad’s day, it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Qur’an which are connected with science could have been the work of a man. It is moreover, perfectly legitimate, not only to regard the Qur’an as the expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a very special place, on account of the guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of scientific statements which, when studied today, appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms.” (p. 252)
To sum up, there is no other scripture that, having challenged all of mankind to disprove its authenticity as the Qur’an did, finally gained total rational support for its supernatural origin and veracity, even from its most bitter opponents. And there is no other historic figure whose future success was as uncertain as that of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, who was finally crowned with such supreme success.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/

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