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"Was Islam Spread By The Sword?"

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in response to reader comment: Lactantius Jr "Do Islam's most authoritative documents say Muhammad was a terrorist?"

Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), May 6, 2008 at 17:46

To Abdul

I respond to Dr Naik's denial that Islam was spread by the sword, in which he appeals to such luminaries as De Lacy O'Leary, Thomas Carlyle and Dr Joseph Adam Pearson, claiming it to be "a common complaint among some non-Muslims that Islam would not have millions of adherents all over the world, if it had not been spread by the use of force."

Rather than deferring to luminaries such as those mentioned by Dr Naik, or by quoting non-Muslims, I quote verbatim, the writings of eminent Muslims, perhaps none being more eminent than the great philosopher/theologian Al-Ghazali (Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad at-Tusi al-Ghazali) [AD1058-1111] Al-Ghazali who earned the title "hoggat al-Islam," meaning rock of Islam, some five centuries after the time of Muhammad, is not apologetic in stressing the use of force in the preservation and progress of Islam:

"After the death of Muhammad, the man of the miracle [the Qur'an] and the apostle of truth and the companions, fearing the weakening of Islam, the decrease of the number of its followers, and the return of masses to their previous infidelity, saw that holy war and invading other countries for the sake of Allah, smashing the faces of the infidels with the sword and making people enter the religion of Allah as the most worthy of all tasks and better than all sciences."[14]

The use of the sword in the spread of Islam is attested to by the following statements from the lips of the renowned scholar al-Ghazali,

"Just as scholastic theology is used with thinking people concerning the truth, the sword is used with the infidels after informing them with the truth ... so just as it cannot be said that the sword was Mohammad's most eloquent argument, neither can it be said that scholastic theology is the ultimate science."[17]

The most telling assessment of the whole issue, confirming the centrality of the sword in Islam; comes from a modern scholar who wrote in al-Azhar, which is the most prestigious University in the Muslim world:

"Holy war (Jihad) is an Arabic virtue, and a divine obligation: the Muslim is always mindful that his religion is a Qur'an and a sword ... the Muslim then is forever a warrior."[18]

With this assertion, the Qur'an, the Hadith, the history of Islam, and scholars, ancient and modern, concur.


14. Ihy'a 'Uloum ed-Din by al-Ghazali, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, Beirut, Vol. V, p. 35.

17. Ihy'a 'Uloum ed-Din by al-Ghazali, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, Beirut, Vol. V, p. 35.
18. Al-Azhar magazine, Cairo, the opening article by Ahmad Hasan az-Zayat, August 1959.

I now quote verbatim, an article by Abu Haithem Al-Hijazee of "Jihad Unspun," published on 22nd.January 2007, and titled, "Was Islam Really Spread by the Sword?"


Al-Hijazee quotes extensively from Islam's most authoritative writings, very readily asserting the answer to the question posed by his article's title, "The quick answer to this question is a resounding yes and in this article, we hope to set the record straight using the evidence from the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the practice of the Guided Caliphs and the consensus of the righteous scholars of the Ummah, inshaAllah. While the evidences in this article are by no means exhaustive, inshaAllah they will be adequate to lay this matter to rest."

and if you object to the way Al-Hijazee handles and presents the Islamic data Abdul, please post your objections here on Dr Pipes's website, also emailing your objections to Al-Hijazee at reception@jihadunspun.com

With kind regards and best wishes

Lactantius Jr.

Here is Al-Hijazee's article quoted verbatim.

Was Islam Really Spread By The Sword?

Jan 22, 2007
By Abu Haithem Al-Hijazee | JUS (Jihad Unspun)


In The Name Of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, and may peace and prayers be on the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad Ibn Abdel Allah, who was sent with the sword so that Allah and only Allah is worshipped on earth. And peace and prayers be on his (the messenger of Allah) family, companions, and all of those who followed his footsteps.

One of the greatest debates within the Muslim Ummah, one that causes division within the Islamic nation and that is often used by the enemies of Islam as a means of ascribing brutality to our religion is centered on the methods by which Islam was propagated throughout the globe. Was Islam spread by the sword? The quick answer to this question is a resounding yes and in this article, we hope to set the record straight using the evidence from the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the practice of the Guided Caliphs and the consensus of the righteous scholars of the Ummah, inshaAllah. While the evidences in this article are by no means exhaustive, inshaAllah they will be adequate to lay this matter to rest.

Muhammad, the messenger of Allah, was sent to all mankind and Jinn with Allah's final and complete message constituting a system of life that leads to the ultimate spiritual, social, and economic justice, security and prosperity. In addition, Islam guarantees a blissful eternal life in the Hereafter to whoever adheres to its rules. Some will see Islam in the right light. Others will allow their whims to lead them astray. Protecting those who reject Islam through their own foolishness and who harbour the potential to corrupt others by forcing them (those who reject Islam) to embrace Islam under the gun is something for which Islam ought to be praised, not condemn. How could saving someone from Hellfire be condemned?

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet (pbuh) about Surah al-Imran Verse 110 (3:110) in the Noble Qur'an

(You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind;….) Al-Imran 110

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Abu Hurariah: "You (Muslims) are the best of people for mankind. You bring them in chains to accept Islam so that they end up in paradise (if they fully adhere to it and Allah accepts their deeds). Given the choice between being chained and dragged into paradise kicking and screaming all the way or being left to ones own foolishness ending up in Hellfire, how would anyone opt for the latter? The righteous Caliphs (may Allah be pleased with them) dispatched Muslim armies to conquer the Roman and Persian Empires and offer them the usual three alternatives; embrace Islam, pay the Jizyah (tax) or fight. Many citizens as well as soldiers of the two defeated empires opted for paying Jizyah in lieu of embracing Islam however, upon observing the conduct of righteous Muslims and practicing living under Islamic rules, many Jizyah-paying individuals embraced Islam on their own. That brings us to the most crucial point in the whole matter. For uncompromised Islam to be learned, taught, and practiced, the right environment must be created. The right environment can only be created by establishing Islamic States that rule by Allah's Shariah law. The vital question then is, can an Islamic state that rules by Allah's Shariah be established and protected without the sword? To answer this question one needs to examine the following pieces of evidence.

Evidence From The Qur'an

The Mandate Of Fighting, The Nature Of The Enemy And Their Intention To Eradicate Islam
Fighting was prescribed by Allah just as were fasting and praying was. Allah the Exalted says:

(Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.) Baqarah 216

The scope of fighting and the categories of who to fight were revealed in stages. Muslims were permitted to fight in self defense during the first stage. The scope of fighting was then expanded to include fighting the Idolaters; then the Muslims were ordered to fight the people of the book, and finally, the scope was expanded to include all the enemies of Allah (non-Muslims and Hypocrites) until Shirk is eradicated and the religion is Allah's in its entirety.

(Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.) Taubah 29

The above verse clearly.

1. Started with a verb in the command form

2. Listed the categories of people whom we must fight

3. Gave the reason (for fighting the people listed above)

4. Gave conditions under which fighting may be halted

And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.) Anfal 39

This Verse clearly indicates that each and every Muslim is commanded to fight in the cause of Allah without stopping until the religion is Allah's in its entirety.

Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taimiah, may Allah have mercy on him, said,"It is the consensus of the scholars of this Ummah that if part of the religion is Allah's and other part is not, fighting must go on until the entire religion is Allah's".

Allah has told us why fighting was prescribed for us. This Ummah was chosen for the great honor of establishing the religion of Allah on earth.

(And strive hard in Allah's Cause as you ought to strive (with sincerity and with all your efforts that his name should be superior). He has chosen you (to convey his Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind by inviting them to his religion, Islam), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship, it is the religion of your father Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism). It is he (Allah) who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Qur'an), that the Messenger (Muhammad) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind! So perform AsSalat (Iqamat-as-Salat), give Zakat and hold fast to Allah [i.e. have confidence in Allah, and depend upon him in all your affairs] He is your Maula (Patron, Lord, etc.), what an Excellent Maula (Patron, Lord, etc.) and what an Excellent Helper!) Al-Hajj 78

What a great honor to be chosen by Allah to be the ones trusted with establishing His Shariah. And what a great honor it is to be called a Muslim. According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Tafsir Al-Tabari, this Verse (22:78) made it clear that fighting to establish the religion of Allah is a duty of all believers and therefore they should not be afraid of the blame of the blamers. We should not be shy or apologetic concerning any aspect of our religion, including fighting and killing the filthy Kuffar everywhere we can find them (see also Taubah 5)

Out of His great mercy and blessings, Allah did not leave us to second guess the nature and intention of His enemies (His enemies are our enemies) and did not leave us wondering whether or not his Shariah can be established and practiced by peaceful means only. Allah has revealed to this Ummah the vicious nature of the Kuffar (atheists, polytheists, hypocrites, etc.) and their determination to turn Muslims back from their religion.

Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) till you follow their religion. Say: "Verily, the Guidance of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur'an), then you would have against Allah neither any Wali (protector or guardian nor any helper) Baqarah 120

(They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another) Al-Nesa89

(And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islamic Monotheism) if they can. And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever.) Baqarah 217

The above Verses make it abundantly clear that the kuffar will not rest until they finish us off. The physical confrontation between the camp of truth and the camp of falsehood will continue until one is victorious. Consequently, physical confrontation will continue until the Day of Judgment. By Allah, His victory will be granted to those who were true to their covenant with Him.

Let's say for the sake of argument that someone says, "Fine, we accept our responsibility to establish Allah's religion but why don't we coexist with them (Kuffar) and through exemplary conduct, patience, and continuous preaching of the message to them, they will eventually come around and embrace Islam? In other words, why not use peaceful means to spread Islam? Well, if the above Verses were not enough to punch holes in such an argument, the following Verses should send that argument to the trash basket in a hurry:

(Should they gain the upper hand over you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you with evil, and they desire that you should disbelieve.) Al-Mumtahanah 2

(And when Our Clear Verses are recited to them, you will notice a denial on the faces of the disbelievers! They are nearly ready to attack with violence those who recite Our Verses to them. Say: "Shall I tell you of something worse than that? The Fire (of Hell) which Allah has promised to those who disbelieve, and worst indeed is that destination!") Al-Haj 72

Verse 22:72 above, shows what happens when just the words of Allah are recited to them. They get violent and provoke physical confrontation. They have demonstrated that time and time again throughout history. The examples in recent times are numerous. Did they not:

• Preplan to attack Taliban long before 9/11?

Pressure Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim countries to change their religious education and texts? Verses that command Muslims to show hatred and animosity towards Christians and Jews were deleted from religious curricula.

Instigate Ethiopia to attack our brothers in Somalia?

Islam Cannot Be Compromised

Many Muslims live in Western countries and they know very well that they have to compromise their religion in order for them not to run into trouble with the Kafir law. Kafir governments do not mind if you pray day and night or build a mosque at every corner or perform Hajj every year. But the minute you talk about Jihad, even Jihad al-Daf'a (defensive Jihad) you become a terrorist. They do not mind having millions of Muslims on their soil as long as they practice the western form of Islam, compromised Islam that is. Muslim women in France and Holland, and soon, in other western places, are being forced to give up their Hijab/khimar/Niqab. Muslim families living in western countries send their female children to coop (mixed) schools where boys and girls sit in the same classroom together all day. Is that Islam? The kafir systems control what you can and cannot read, write, say, teach, or do. The kafir systems will not allow anyone to practice true Islam. But Allah will not accept anything but true Islam. What a dilemma for those who cannot understand.

Hate Crimes Versus The Crime Not To Hate

If you live under kafir rules and try to practice or teach your children or others the Aqeedah of al-wala'a wal bara'a (love and hate for sake of Allah) you will be prosecuted for committing "hate crimes". Al-wala'a wal bara'a is what Islam is all about; no Imaan is complete without it. So if you go along with the Kafir and keep your mouth shut you will end up committing the crime of not hating for sake of Allah. Which crime is easier to handle, a crime against Kafir people or a crime against Allah? Do not be fooled by anyone who tells you that it is enough to harbour in your heart hate for the kafir. This will be permitted only if you cannot migrate from where you are to a place where you can practice uncompromised Islam. Most if not all Muslims living in Western countries are there because they do not want to give up the decent life they have, and not because they cannot migrate.

So how else (other than physical confrontation) will Muslims be able to learn, practice, and preach the true and only accepted form of Islam, let alone spreading it outside of their communities?

Establishing Allah's religion on the entire earth is big responsibility that requires enormous sacrifice, preparation, energy, money, etc. Therefore, Allah made it (accepting that responsibility) an integral part of embracing Islam. By embracing Islam, we are signing a business transaction with Allah. The details of this business transaction are spelled out in Taubah 111:

(Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah's Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Qur'an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success) Taubah 111

The Verse above is very serious indeed. It states the relationship between Allah and the Believers. The Verse started with a verb in the past tense form. This means that the transaction has been consummated. The terms of this transaction are as follows:

Buyer: Allah

Seller: The Believers

Goods: The seller's person, property, money, and everything else he/she possesses

Price: Paradise

Payment: Due

Date: Upon delivery of goods

Means of Delivery: Jihad, fighting, getting killed or killing Kuffar

Allah has fulfilled his end of the bargain. Have we? Each and every one of us ought to ask himself, "Have I honoured my agreement with Allah?" If the answer is no, isn't fair to question our state of Imaan?


Corrupted scholars, the ones nick-named "beggars" by Sheikh Ayman Zawahri, invented their own interpretation of Verse 256 of Surat al-Baqarah (2:256) to confuse and mislead unknowledgeable and unsuspecting Muslims.

(There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.) Baqarah 256

In their tafsirs, both Ibn Kathir and al-Tabari said that the Verse addresses Jizyah-paying non-Muslims (whose army was defeated by Muslim army, their land taken by the Islamic State, and they were living under Islamic Law). The option of paying Jizyah in lieu of embracing Islam was discussed above and more discussion on that is presented below. The conduct of every Jizyah-paying non-Muslim was constantly monitored. Any one who starts to spread mischief on earth or attempt to corrupt the Aqeedah of any Muslim was dealt with swiftly.

Evidences From The Sunnah Of The Prophet (pbuh)

The messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "I have been ordered to fight people till they say, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah", and whoever says, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah", his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his reckoning will be with Allah, (either to punish him or forgive him). Narrated by Abu Huraira, Bukhari, Vol.4, book 52, 196

When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) appointed a commander to lead an army or a raiding party, he would advise him to fear Allah with regard to himself and the Muslims with him, and then he said: "Fight in the name of Allah and for the sake of Allah. Fight those who disbelieve in Allah, fight but do not steal from the war booty (before it is shared out), betray, or mutilate. Do not kill children. If you meet your enemy of the mushrikeen, call them to three things, and whichever one of them they respond to, accept that from them and leave them alone. Then call them to Islam and if they respond, accept that from them and leave them alone. If they refuse but they pay the Jizyah, then they have responded to you, so accept that from them and leave them alone. If they refuse then put your trust in Allah and fight them…" Narrated by Buraydah, Muslim 3261

The Prophet (PBUH) said: "I have been sent ahead of the Hour (Judgment Day) with the sword so that Allah will be worshipped alone, and my provision has been placed in the shade of my spear, and humiliation and disgrace have been decreed for those who go against my command, and whoever imitates a people is one of them." Narrated by Ahmad, 4869; Saheeh al-Jaami', 2831.

The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Know that paradise is under the shades of swords.," Narrated by Bukhari, Vol.4, book 52, 73

The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Anyone who dies without going on a Ghazwah (military expedition) and without having thought of himself as going on Ghazw has died with a characteristic of hypocrisy.," narrated by Abu Hurayra, cited by Muslim, Riyadh al-Saliheen, 1341

From the above, one can easily see that the Arabic words Ghazwah and Ghazw were used by the Prophet to describe his military expeditions. Those Arabic words mean conquering or invading. Those words certainly do not imply self-defense, dislodging an enemy who has already invaded Muslim territory, or pushing back an enemy who was knocking on the gates of the Islamic State. Those military expeditions were part of "Jihad al-Talab" (offensive Jihad) and were carried out to establish the religion of Allah as commanded by Him (Allah).

Evidence From The Righteous Caliphs

Following the command of Allah and the practice of His (Allah) messenger the righteous Caliphs dispatched Muslim armies hundreds of miles away from the border of the original young Islamic State to spread Islam and rescue mankind from the darkness of false deities into the clear light of Tawheed. These expeditions were offensive in nature. Muslim army's missions were not teaching or commerce. The objective of Muslim armies was to invade the territory and establish Islam as the law of the land. People on the other side were given (as we saw above) three choices, embracing Islam or paying Jizyah and living under Islamic rule, or fight. If that is not considered an example of spreading Islam by the sword, we fail to see what is. Leaders of the faithful for several centuries beyond the time of the righteous Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman, and Ali) continued Allah's commandment. As the result, Islam spread east, west, north ,and south.

We will take just one or two incidents to illustrate this point. After the brilliant performance by Khalid Ibn al-Walid in Battle of Yamama in which he finished off the apostates, he received his marching orders from Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr's letter was short and down to the point. "Proceed to Iraq. Start operations in the region of Uballa. Fight the Persians and the people who inhabit their land. Your objective is Hira."

Khalid wrote the following letter to Hurmuz, the governor of the frontier district of Dast Meisan:

"Submit to Islam and be safe. Or agree to the payment of the Jizyah and you and your people will be under our protection, else you will have only yourself to blame for the consequences, for I bring a people who desire death as ardently as you desire life."

Now is that not spreading Islam by the sword?

Later on after Khalid (the sword of Allah) finished off the Persians in Iraq he was ordered to march toward al-Sham (Syria, Jordan, Palestine) to dismantle the Roman Empire. Khalid made his plans and marched towards the Romans. The commander of the Roman armies requested a meeting with Khalid. The two experienced military leaders had the following exchange:

The Roman leader said to Khalid: We know that it is hardship and hunger that have brought you out of your lands. We will give every one of your men ten dinars, clothing and food if you return to your lands, and next year we will send you a similar amount." Khalid did not like the impoliteness of the arrogant Roman and gave this reply:

"Actually, what brought us out of our lands is that we are a people who drink blood, and it has reached us that there is no blood tastier than Roman blood."

That exchange proved that the Romans were not threatening the Islamic State in any way and the Roman leader was at a loss as to the reason for this attack by Muslims. The Islamic army was on the offensive.

Here again, Khalid and his Muslim Warriors did not go there to buy and sell goods or to display good manners in the hope the Romans will embrace Islam just like that. Khalid and his soldiers meant business and they used the sword to impose their will.

Evidence From The Righteous Scholars Of The Ummah

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) in al-Faroosiyyah (p.18):

Allah sent him (the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), with the guiding Book and the conquering sword, ahead of the Hour, so that Allah alone would be worshipped with no partner or associate, and his provision was placed beneath the shade of his sword and spear. Allah has established the religion of Islam with proof and evidence, and with the sword and spear, both are together and inseparable.

Sayed Qutb: Fiqh Al-Da'wa, 217-220 – Fatawa Al-Lajnah Al-Daaimah 12/14

"Islam spread by means of proof and evidence to those who listened to the message and responded to it, and it spread by means of force and the sword to those who were stubborn and arrogant, until they were overwhelmed and became no longer stubborn, and submitted to that reality."

InshaAllah this does justice to this important issue and that more and more Muslims feel proud of Jihad and wala'a wal bara'a rather than squirming in their seats as the apostate scholars do whenever these issues are mentioned.

And our last prayer is praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. (JUS)

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