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Islam Spread by the Sword ?

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  • ummyakoub
    Islam Spread by the Sword ? The Myth and the Reality By Dr. Sharif Mohammed Among the most widely believed myths about Islam in the West today is the myth of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2003
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      Islam Spread by the Sword ? The Myth and the Reality

      By Dr. Sharif Mohammed

      Among the most widely believed myths about Islam in the West today is
      the myth of forcible conversion to Islam.

      Many Westerners do 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. Non-Muslims were
      offered the freedom to choose either Islam or death.

      In a discussion with a Baptist Minister he said to me that "Muslims
      tend to kill non-Muslims and anyone who disagrees with them". In a
      syndicated column appearing in over 30 papers (on July 23rd, 1994)
      entitled, "Muslim persecution of Christians increasing" the author
      blames many Muslims countries for persecuting Christians then he
      quotes the Qur'an, "There is no compulsion in Religion" and ends the
      quote by rudely writing "Really?".

      How to confront such misconceptions? First, there is no need for us
      to be apologetic. We Muslims should search for the truth and present
      it as it is. This is how we have been instructed by Allah (SWT)

      "Say: the truth from your Lord and let him who will believe and let
      him who will reject" (18:29)

      Islam is the religion of the Truth. The Qur'an is the book of the

      "We sent down the Qur'an in Truth and in Truth has it descended"

      "Put your trust in Allah for you are on the path of the manifest
      Truth" (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? As a matter of fact, there is
      no such evidence anywhere in the history of Islam. Many distinguised
      Western historians have attested this fact-- foremost among whom is
      Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his book, "The Preaching of Islam". Also
      there is 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 Hisotry, the Human Heritage" and many others.
      In fact, there is substantial evidence to the contrary. We have
      already seen in a previous khutbah [friday sermon] that Muslims were
      often seen as liberators of the oppressed people everywhere.

      The question that remains to be answered is why then so many people
      have chosen Islam throughout the more than 1400 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. Islam in all these regions 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 in so many different places
      at so many different times?

      First and foremost, Islam is an amazing blend of simplicity and
      rationality: a very simple religion yet very rational at the same
      time. Professor Hodgson has explained the reasons for the popularity
      of Islam as follows:

      "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, on the
      basis of revelation that had been given to a famous prophet whom
      millions already acknolwedged. This was at once intelligible and

      The unambiguous and uncompromising belief in the Unity, the
      Greatness, the 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, Salah
      [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

      Then Sir Arnold narrated the story of an Egyptian Jew who converted
      to Islam at the end of the 13th century mainly because of the sight
      of the Juma'a prayer. Actually, it is not only in the 13th century
      that people converted to Islam because of the prayers; it just
      happened a few years ago in Ottawa that a non-Muslim Canadian woman
      converted to Islam because of Juma'a prayers. She used to go to the
      Ottawa Mosque on Friday and pray among the sisters for several
      months. She loved the prayer and eventually she embraced Islam.

      In addition to the prayers, the other pillars of Islam, Zakah [alms
      tax distributed to the poor], Hajj [pilgrimage to Makkah], Siyam
      [fasting in Ramadan], have always been factors in attracting many
      hearts to Islam. Up until the present day, one still meets converts
      who were impressed by the social justice of Islam brilliantly
      expressed in the payment of Zakah. The genius of Hajj and Siyam has
      always been a determining factor in the conversion of many people. It
      is this union of rationalism and ritualism that explains the power
      that Islam has exercised over the hearts and minds of so many people.
      Islam simply gives the truth, neat and clear in a visible and
      tangible form. The neatness and clarity of Islam was presented to
      human beings in the form of a miraculous book, the Qur'an. The
      marvellous power and beauty of the words of the Qur'an have always
      been a decisive factor in conversion 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 Crhistianity 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 Judgement 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, ritualism and clarity of Islam did not
      only lead the Christians of the Middle East to forsake Christianity
      and embrace Islam in the past. It continues to do so with Christinas
      in the West to the present day. An Australian-born Christain who
      converted to Islam four months ago and who was studying here with us
      at Queen's wrote in her story of conversion to Islam:

      "Christianity continued to be difficult for me. So much didn't make
      sense, the trinity, the idea that Jesus was God incarnate, the
      worship of Mary, the Saints, or jesus, rather than God. The priests
      told me to leave reason behind".

      The she went on to say:

      "Could Muhammad really be a messenger? Could the Qur'an be God's
      word? I kept reading the Qur'an, it told me that Eve wasn't alone to
      blame for the fall, that Jesus was a messenger, that people would
      question the authenticity of Muhammad's claim to revelation but that
      if they tried to write something as wise, consistent and rational
      they would fail. This seemed true. Islam asked me to use my
      intelligence to contemplate God, it encouraged me to seek knowledge."
      Then at the end of her sincere search for the truth she prayed to God
      saying, "Dear God, I believe in You, I believe in the compelling and
      majestic words of the Qur'an and I believe in the prophethood of your
      messenger Muhammad (SAW)."

      Another Muslim sister, from California, who was a practising
      Christian and an active member in her nearby Presbyterian church,
      wrote in her conversion story that despite her active affiliation
      with the church, she always had serious questions about the
      fundamentlas of Chrsitianity which did not make sense to her. She
      debated her questions with her friends but never came up with good
      answers. The church couldn't give them good answers either, they only
      told them to "have faith". All her questions were answered when she
      took a course about Islam. Listen to her own 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."

      My dear brothers and sisters, 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 so clearly throughout the history of Islam. Despite
      all of the ills of Muslims 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."

      Ambassador Herman Ellis, in a testimony in front of the committee on
      Foreign Affirs of the House of Represntatives of the United States
      Congress on June 24th, 1985, said:

      "The Muslim community of the globe today is in the neighbourhood of
      one billion. That is an impressive figure. But what to me is equally
      impressive is that Islam today is the fastest growing monotheistic
      religion. This is something we have to take into account. Something
      is right about Islam. It is attracting a good many people."




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