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Islamic Society (02 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Can Muslims Force Non-Muslims To Convert To Islam? Why No Outrage Among Ulema On Reports Of Forced Conversions From Different Countries, Particularly Pakistan?

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

02 August 2019

The topic of forcible conversion to Islam has become the concern of mainstream media. Several cases of conversion to Islam are reported to have occurred around the world, particularly in Pakistan of young Hindu girls who are abducted, converted forcibly and married off to their abductors. This is extremely shocking because this violates the total Islamic prohibition of forced conversion.

Islam neither allows forced conversion nor accepts the faith of those who are forcibly converted to Islam. Forced conversion can’t create love and faith in one’s heart, as Islamic faith is not related to outward following of rituals, but rather it is a matter of acceptance by heart. Then how can one justify forced conversion? Why is there no outrage in the community of Muslim ulema at this mockery of our religion by Muslims themselves?

The Quran clearly prohibits forced conversion when it says, “There is no compulsion in religion. Surely, the guidance has become evidently distinguished from error. So he who rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped such a firm handhold that will never loosen. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (2:256)

In this verse, the Quranic phrase “La Ikraha Fiddinلا إكراه في الدين…” means “There is no compulsion in Religion”. The first word of the verse ‘La’ is ‘La Nafiya Li al-Jins’, a negative particle which specifically denotes ‘categorical negation’, i.e. no chance of any exception. Thus, the meaning of this Ayat is: every sort of compulsion, without any exception, is totally prohibited in the Islamic faith.

This is the basic principle of Islam upon which the idea of non-compulsion is built, guaranteeing religious freedom for all non-Muslims. Islam, as the Quranic verse says, has made its “guidance evidently distinguished from error” and therefore it does not force the people to convert to Islam. In other words, Islam invites people to accept Islam willingly, but it does not force them to do so. A number of Quranic verses support this view. Some of them are as follows;

“There is no duty upon the Noble Messenger except to convey the command; and Allah knows all what you disclose and all what you hide.” (5:99)

“And proclaim, “The Truth is from your Lord”; so whoever wills may accept faith, and whoever wills may disbelieve – We have indeed prepared for the wrongdoers [Zalimin] a fire the walls of which will surround them; if they plead for water, their plea will be answered with water like molten metal which shall scald their faces; what an evil drink it is; and what an evil destination is hell!” (The Quran - 18:29)

“And if your Lord willed, all those who are in the earth – every one of them – would have accepted faith; so, will you force the people until they become Muslims?” (The Quran -10:99)

This verse clearly implies that if God had willed, He would have caused only the believers to be born in the earth. Nothing was impossible for God. He revealed His signs to check the mankind, granting them the free-will to choose faith or unbelief.

The second half of the verse, “So will you force the people until they become Muslims?” is a rhetorical question which serves to emphasize that accepting the faith is a matter of choice. The Quran has used this rhetorical technique to guide the believers, while apparently addressing the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). This part of the verse does not mean that the Prophet sought to compel the people to become believers, because God Almighty had prevented him from doing so.

This verse is meant to comfort the Prophet (peace be upon him) because he had worry and concern over whether his people will embrace his message and refrain from committing unbelief and sins, as the Quran refers to his concern, “Indeed there has come to you a Noble Messenger from among you – your falling into hardship aggrieves him, most concerned for your well being, for the believers most compassionate, most merciful” (9:128). God Almighty knows that His Prophet is concerned about the sins of the people and their fate in the Hereafter.

So, to comfort His Prophet, God says, “Possibly you may risk your life (O Prophet) by grieving, because they did not believe”. (26:3). This implies that instead of risking his life, the Prophet should remember that the state of the faith of the people whom he is commanded to address is a matter for God Almighty to determine and is not his concern. Therefore the only duty for him is to proclaim the divine message and not to force them to save them from the divine punishment in the Hereafter, as the Quran refers to this, “Your duty is only to convey, and it is up to Us to reckon” (13:40), “Therefore advise; you are only the one who reminds. You are not at all a guardian over them.” (88:21-22)

Allah commands His Prophet to invite the people to Islam with wisdom and fair admonition and in the best manner, with kindness, gentleness and good speech, as He says,

“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way. Your Lord knows best who is misguided from His way. And He knows best who are guided.” (Qur'an, 16:125)

 “Then if they turn away, (O Prophet), upon you is nothing but to clearly convey (the message).” (16:82)

What do the modern and traditional jurists and exegetes say about the forced conversion? Let us read some of them.

Imam Razi says in his commentary of the verse 2:256, “forced conversion is not permissible in the world because it is the house of trial. And because forced conversion to Islam invalidates the objective of trial and test. The example of this non-compulsive behaviour is also mentioned in the divine speech of God, “And say, “The Truth is from your Lord”; so whoever wills may accept faith, and whoever wills may disbelieve...” (18:29) (Mafatih al-Ghaib, Tafsir Razi, 2:256)  

Notably a famous classical jurist belonging to Hanbali school of thought, Ibn Qudamah al-Marquise writes, (translation from Arabic) “It is not permitted to force a non-Muslim to accept Islam. Such a person would not even be considered a Muslim until it is confirmed that he accepted the Islamic faith by his own free choice.” He also says, “The reason for the prohibition of any compulsion or coercion is the Qur’anic verse, “There is no compulsion in Religion” (see al-Mughni-)

Allama Ibn Kathir writes in his commentary on the verse 2:256,

يقول تعالى : ( لا إكراه في الدين ) أي : لا تكرهوا أحدا على الدخول في دين الإسلام فإنه بين واضح جلي دلائله وبراهينه لا يحتاج إلى أن يكره أحد على الدخول فيه ، بل من هداه الله للإسلام وشرح صدره ونور بصيرته دخل فيه على بينة ، ومن أعمى الله قلبه وختم على سمعه وبصره فإنه لا يفيده الدخول في الدين مكرها مقسورا . وقد ذكروا أن سبب نزول هذه الآية في قوم من الأنصار ، وإن كان حكمها عاما .

English Translation:

“Do not force anyone to become Muslim, for Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidence are plain and clear. Therefore, there is no need to force anyone to embrace Islam. Rather, whoever Allah directs to Islam, opens his heart for it and enlightens his mind, will embrace Islam with certainty. Whoever Allah blinds his heart and seals his hearing and sight, then he will not benefit from being forced to embrace Islam.” (Ismail Ibn Kathir “Tafsir Al-Quran Al-Azim” English and Arabic versions, 2:256).

Abu Bakr al-Jazairi says, (لا يكره المرء على الدخول في الدين، وإنما يعتنقه بإرادته واختياره) “The people will not be forced to enter into Islam. They can embrace it on their will and pleasure.” (Aysar al-Tafasir, 2:256)

Imam Nasafi Hanafi says in the commentary of the verses (10:99-100), “if Allah the Most High wanted to compel all people to believe, then He would have done so and all the people would have believed in Him. But He has willed instead that they come to believe in Him by their own free choice”. (Abd Allah ibn Ahmad al-Nasafi, “Madarik al-Tanzil wa Haqaiq Al-Tawil (the Arabic book of Tafsir)

It is reported that although the Ansar were the reason behind revealing this verse 2:256, the application of its message is general in meaning (Tafsir Ibn Kathir). Given the famous maxim "العبرة بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب", meaning, “Consideration is granted to the Generality of the Language, not to the Specificity of the Reason for Revelation”, it is proclaimed that this verse (2:256) is general in meaning and applies to all non-Muslims. Hence it means that none of the non-Muslims should be coerced to accept Islam. The rationale behind this generality is explained in this way: since the revelation has distinguished the path of guidance from the path of misguidance, it is now up to the will of people to choose the one or the other path and therefore accepting Islam because of compulsion would not benefit the convert in any way.

More significantly it is also reported that when Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) invited an old Christian woman to accept Islam, she said in reply: “I am an old woman nearing death.” Hearing this, Hazrat Umar did not force her to come into the fold of Islam. In fact, he recited this very verse 2:256 “There is no compulsion in Religion)” (Al-Nahhas “al-Nasikh wal Mansukh”)

When Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) granted security and protection to the citizens of Jerusalem, his covenant established the constitution of religious freedom (based on ‘There is no compulsion in Religion’) for all non-Muslims living in Islamic society.

This is reported by Imam Tabari that Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) made peace with the people of Jerusalem and wrote a single covenant for every village besides Jerusalem: “In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. This is the covenant of security from the servant of God, ‘Umar, the Commander of the faithful, to the people of Jerusalem. He grants them safety for their lives, their property, their churches and their crucifixes, for their ill, their healthy, and their entire community. Their churches will not be occupied, demolished, or decreased in number. Their churches and crucifixes will not be desecrated and neither anything else of their property. They will not be coerced to abandon their religion and none of them will be harmed.” (Imam Tabari, ‘Tarikh al-umam wa al-muluk, 2/449

Shaykh Muhammad Mitwalli ash-Sha'rawi says in the commentary of 2:256,

فأصل التدين والإيمان بالله ألا يكرهك أحد عليه بل ادخل إلى الإيمان بالله باختيارك لكن إذا دخلت إلى الإيمان بالله فالتزم بالسماع من الله في "افعل" ولا تفعل. (تفسير الشعراوي ج 4)

The original religiousness and faith in God comes when no one compels you for that. You should enter into faith on your free will. However if you embrace the faith, you should obey “Do’s” and “Don’ts” mentioned in the Quran.” (Tafsir Sha’rawi, vol.4)

The afore-mentioned Quranic verses (Ayaat) and reports make it quite clear that forced conversion is not permissible. Hence the idea of forced conversion is baseless and can’t be justified. The reason is that forced belief is not sincere belief and that Islamic faith is not related to ritualistic practices or false statements, but rather it relates to the heart, and in matters of the heart, there is no scope for compulsion. Therefore, non-Muslims can’t be compelled to become a Muslim. In any case the idea of forcing someone to believe in something is absurd.

A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).

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  • Hats Off is hopelessly brainwashed by Western and Sanghi historians who have a lot vested in maligning Muslims.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/29/2019 11:11:12 PM

  • islam spread through the sword, coercion, forcibly demanding to marry the daughters and sisters of conquered kings, co-opting suckers and losers and generally massacring others.
    read any of the historians who trotted along side the world's most shameless looters and iconoclastic maniacal monotheists.
    the prophet even destroyed all the idols of the kabaa and prohibited entry of non-muslims (aka kuffar) after he took over mecca.
    so this being sunnat, every fool muslim invader just simply imitated his prophet by looting temples, taking sex slaves, murdering the idolaters and collecting mal e ghanimat. and they boasted and cocked and crowed about it. left wing historian goons with an axe to grind trivialized every unfortunate massacre of kuffars in the subcontinent and sought to portray the bloodiest conquest in history to one of simple theft.
    and mr.ghulam mohiyuddin a subtle hater of hindus and jews is very comfortable with this meta narrative.
    but somehow all this is accomplished by a very very peaceful religion.
    By hats off! - 8/29/2019 7:07:52 PM

  • If all the people of the world wore the same coloured dress then it wouldn't be a nice place to live in. There should be incredulity towards mera narratives.
    By Aiman Reyaz - 8/29/2019 5:58:00 AM

  • @Ghulam Mohiyuddin sb 
    Angrez is the most powerful people in the world so who dares even to speak against the power.
    Muslims live in minority so they have power to chant their power in so many ways. 

    By Anjum - 8/10/2019 1:57:21 AM

  • When the British, the French and the Portugese loot india, no one says "Christians looted India", but when Nadirshah and Ghazni loot India, it automatically becomes "Muslims looted India". Hats Off's capacity to lie and be dishonest was learned. I am sure he was not born with it. Maybe he should also learn that it was looters that looted India and their religious ID is important only to merchants of hate like himself.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/9/2019 12:03:09 PM

  • Also to note is that in order to perform responsibility of Sharia, It is essential for a good Mufti or expert Ulama to be aware of the circumstances and current affairs of the world. If something bad takes place around the world, it becomes their responsibility to address the problem rather than being confined to their Madaris or Masajid.
    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 8/9/2019 9:06:42 AM

  • @Mr. Talha, We should know that there are pious Ulama and impious Ulama. There are those of them who are not expert to deal with newly rising issues and resolve them in the light of Quran and Sunnah.

    So when we use the word Ulama we should not take its general application to include all Ulama. Under the theme of this article we should say that there are Ulama who should take responsibility of resolving the issues of forced conversion as they are influential and effective for their audience.

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 8/9/2019 8:59:50 AM

  • nadir shah also looted india. there as many looters of india as there are hairs on ahead. ghazni looted india. every muslim tom dick and harry with a horse a sword looted india.

    dime a dozen. and they could do a little thing. the idolaters are still as strong as they were.

    looting is the prerogative of religious maniacs. including islamic.

    By hats off! - 8/9/2019 7:41:49 AM

  • @Talha sb, 
    I have not said that the Ulama support forced conversion. But there is no problem if it is said that they being religious guides and influential should do something to stop propaganda of forced conversion taking place in some areas. 
    As for the social media reports, I am not sure either of the cases; true or untrue. Therefore I have heavily focused on my the ruling of Islam on forced conversion. 
    This gives answer to two groups of individuals; those who are involved in forced conversion and those who blame Islam for forced conversion. 

    By GGS - 8/9/2019 2:55:30 AM

  • @Ghulam Ghaus sb,
    Do you think Ulama are not raising their voice against forced conversion? Indian ulama have spoken against forced conversion. They say forced conversion is not allowed in islam. This article itself has quoted several ulama. They do speak against this evil practice. If some people practice it, they are not responsible for that.
    How is that if ulama are not followed by some people in the case of forced conversion, they are responsible for that?
    They have raised voice against it, but people do not listen to it.
    Reports are contradictory on social websites. You know that if something is contradictory it becomes doubtful. As in science of Hadith, you have read that if any hadith is contradictory with other hadith, it becomes doubtful and in some case the hadith is considered ‘rejected’. So why not that principle is applied today. Why do we trust media reports while there are so many contradictions? 
    By Talha - 8/9/2019 12:46:02 AM

  • Yes Muslims can 
    Action of Muslims from History and power tells enough that Muslims can convert p,myes they can by might, you may be one of them.
    What extra Muslim teach is hate their forefathers their local Heros and wise people.

    By Aayina - 8/8/2019 10:29:39 PM

  • Hats off, 
    who looted India? after the mughals lost power, who broke India into pieces? mughals made India bird of gold around the world and was the most powerful country in the world.
    history is full of contradictions. If as per your history, Aurangzeb looted, then why he constructed tempels and protected Hindus????
    history is full of differences of opinions. 
    you say something and do not believe in my history 
    i do not believe in your history 
    today politics is going on water. some are saying Islamic water, Hindu water and with the same spirit, shall we say our history is muslim your history is hindu.

    By Huzaifa - 8/8/2019 1:51:18 AM

  • It is these people who sell hate and purchase hate.

    By Huzaifa - 8/8/2019 1:39:28 AM

  • Hats Off,
    Your venom is exactly the same as the venom dished out by RSS historians. Hate merchants seem to think alike. Your diatribe against Huzaifa sb. shows how your literalistic and obsolete nitpickings rudely  interrupt a serious conversation. Shame on you!
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/8/2019 12:04:19 AM

  • @Hats Off,
    Huzaifa knows it and also that polytheists like Hats off will continue to treat Huzaifa and others with the same arguments. 
    Huzaifa can't stop believing in the Quran and Hats off can't stop making such comments. 

    By Huzaifa - 8/7/2019 10:25:16 PM

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