The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement Blog

Miracles, Myths, Mistakes and MattersSee Title Page and List of Contents

See: Project Rebuttal: What the West needs to know about Islam

Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

Read: Background to the Project

List of all Issues | Summary 1 | Summary 2 | Summary 3

January 29th, 2012

Issue 40

Issue 40 [@40:48]: Robert Spencer – “Islam understands its earthly mission to be to extend the law of Allah over the world by force. Now, this is distinct from extending the religion by force. Muslims often indignantly deny that Islam was spread by the sword, as the old expression goes, and that anybody is ever forced to convert to Islam. Now, of course forced conversion are a constant hallmark of Islamic history, but they are technically forbidden by Islamic law. Now, the idea in Islam is that Muslims must force to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. Not everybody will be forced to become a Muslim but non-Muslims will be relegated to second class status, not be able live in the society equal to the Muslims. And it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to fight to institute that kind of society.”

Rebuttal 40: Robert Spencer now shifts gears and makes utterly baseless allegations against Islam. He is wrong both from secular and doctrinal aspects of Islam. He falsely tries to impress upon the audience that Islam was spread by force and that there were forced conversions under Islam. He uses scare tactics for those unfamiliar with Islam and alleges that it relegates non-Muslims to a second class citizenship. These statements by Spencer are mischievous and a smear against Islam. He stated all this without quoting an example to back up his allegations because there are none. His allegations are addressed as follows:

Rebuttal 40a: Robert Spencer is factually wrong when he states – “Islam understands its earthly mission to be to extend the law of Allah over the world by force.” This and other statements of Spencer were rebutted by Muhammad Ali in 1936, decades before Spencer was even born. In his book, The Religion of Islam, under the topic of Jihad [p. 409-413], Muhammad Ali writes:

The Spread of Islam by Force[?]

The propagation of Islam is no doubt a religious duty of every true Muslim, who must follow the example of the Holy Prophet, but “the spread of Islam by force”, is a thing of which no trace can be found in the Holy Qur’an. On the other hand, the Holy Book lays down the opposite doctrine in clear words. “There is no compulsion in religion”, and the reason is added: “The right way is clearly distinct from error” (2:256). This verse was revealed after the permission for war had been given, and it is therefore certain that the permission to fight has no connection with the preaching of religion. That the Holy Qur’an never taught such a doctrine, nor did the Holy Prophet ever think of it, is a fact which is now being gradually appreciated by the Western mind. After beginning his article on Djihad with the statement that “the spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general”, D.B. Macdonald, the writer of the article in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, in a way questions the correctness of his own allegation, by adding that there is nothing in the Holy Qur’an to corroborate it, and that the idea was not present even to the mind of the Holy Prophet:

“In the Meccan Suras of the Kur’an patience under attack is taught; no other attitude was possible. But at Medina the right to repel attack appears, and gradually it became a prescribed duty to fight against and subdue the hostile Meccans. Whether Muhammad himself recognized that his position implied steady and unprovoked war against the unbelieving world until it was subdued to Islam may be in doubt. Hadith are explicit on the point [Footnote in the book: It will be shown later on that even Hadith does not teach propagation of Islåm by force.]; but the Kur’anic passages speak always of the unbelievers who are to be subdued as dangerous or faithless.”

Here is a clear confession that the Holy Qur’an does not enjoin the waging of war against all unbelievers so as to subdue them to Islam, nor was the idea present to the mind of the Holy Prophet. The logical consequence of this confession is that genuine Hadith cannot inculcate such a doctrine, for Hadith reports the saying of the Holy Prophet. And if the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet never taught such a doctrine, how could it be said to be the religious duty of the Muslims? There is obviously a struggle here in the writer’s mind between preconceived ideas and an actual knowledge of facts. [Emphasis added]

Circumstances under which War was Permitted

It is a misstatement of facts to say that patience under attack was taught at Makkah, because there was no other alternative, and that the right to repel attack came at Madinah. The attitude was no doubt changed but that change was due to the change of circumstances. At Makkah there was individual persecution and patience was taught. If the conditions had remained the same at Madinah, the Muslim attitude would have been the same. But individual persecution could no more be resorted to by the Quraish of Makkah, as the Muslims were living out of their reach. This very circumstance fanned the fire of their wrath, and they now planned the extinction of the Muslims as a nation. The sword was taken up to annihilate the Muslim community or to compel it to return to unbelief. That was the challenge thrown at them, and the Holy Prophet had to meet it. The Holy Qur’an bears the clearest testimony to it. The earliest permission to repel attack is conveyed in words which show that the enemy had already taken up the sword or decided to do so: “Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is able to assist them — Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, in which Allah’s name is much remembered would have been pulled down. And surely Allah will help him who helps His cause” (22:39, 40). The very words of this verse show that it is the earliest on the subject of fighting, as it speaks of a permission being given now which evidently had not been given up to this time. This permission was given to a people upon whom war was made by their enemies (yuqatal∂na); and it was not a permission to make war with people in general but only with the people who made war on them, and the reason is stated plainly “because they are oppressed” and “have been expelled from their homes without a just cause.” It was clearly an aggressive war on the part of the enemies of Islam who thus sought to exterminate the Muslims or to compel them to forsake their religion: “And they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion if they can” (2:217). It was a holy war in the truest sense because, as stated further on, if war had not been allowed under these circumstances, there would be no peace on earth, no religious liberty, and all houses for the worship of God would be destroyed. Indeed there could be no war holier than the one which was needed as much for the religious liberty of the Muslims as for the principle of religious liberty itself, as much to save the mosques as to save the cloisters and the synagogues and churches. If there had ever been a just cause for war in this world, it was for the war that had been permitted to the Muslims. And undoubtedly war with such pure motives was a jihad, a struggle carried on simply with the object that truth may prosper and that freedom of conscience may be maintained.

The second verse giving to the Muslims permission to fight runs as follows: “And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, and be not aggressive; surely Allah loves not the aggressors” (2:190). Here again the condition is plainly laid down that the Muslims shall not be the first to attack, they had to fight — it had now become a duty—but only against those who fought against them; aggression was expressly prohibited. And this fighting in self-defence is called fighting in the way of Allah (fi sabilillah), because fighting in defence is the noblest and justest of all causes. It was the cause Divine, because if the Muslims had not fought they would have been swept out of existence, and there would have been none to establish Divine Unity on earth. These were the very words in which the Holy Prophet prayed in the field of Badr: “O Allah! I beseech Thee to fulfil Thy covenant and Thy promise; O Allah! if Thou wilt (otherwise), Thou wilt not be worshipped anymore” (Bu.56:89). The words fi sabili-llah are misinterpreted by most European writers as meaning the propagation of Islam. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Muslims were not fighting to force Islam on others; rather they were being fought to force them to renounce Islam, as shown by (2:217) quoted above. What a travesty of facts to say that war was undertaken by the Muslims for the propagation of Islam!

It is sometimes asserted that these injunctions, relating to defensive fighting, were abrogated by a later revelation in ch. 9. Yet anyone who reads that chapter cannot fail to note that it does not make the slightest change in the principles laid down earlier. Fighting with idolaters is enjoined in the ninth chapter, but not with all of them. In the very first verse of that chapter, the declaration of immunity is directed towards only “those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement” not all the idolaters—and even in their case an exception is made. “Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up anyone against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their terms; for Allah loves those who keep their duty’’ (9:4). This shows that there were idolatrous tribes on friendly terms with the Muslims, and the Muslims were not allowed to fight with them; it was only the hostile tribes who broke their agreements and attacked the Muslims that were to be fought against. And individual idolaters, even if belonging to hostile tribes, could still have safety, if they wanted to enquire about Islam, and were given a safe conduct back home even if they did not accept Islam: “And if anyone of the idolaters seek protection by thee, protect him till he hears the word of Allah, then convey him to his place of safety. This is because they are a people who know not” (9:6). The idolater who stood in need of protection evidently belonged to a hostile tribe, because the friendly tribes, being in alliance with the Muslims, had no need of seeking protection of the Muslim government. Thus even a hostile idolator was to be sent back safely to his own tribe and not molested in anyway, as the words of the verse show. The idolaters with whom fighting was enjoined were those who had violated treaties and were foremost in attacking Muslims, as the words that follow show: “If they prevail against you, they respect neither ties of relationship, nor of covenant in your case” (9:8). “Will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Messenger and they attacked you first” (9:13). Thus chapter 9, which is supposed to abrogate the earlier verses, still speaks of fighting only against those idolaters who “attacked you first”, and this is the very condition laid down in earlier verses, such as (2:190). [Emphasis added]


Rebuttal 40b: Spencer self contradicts when he states – “Now, of course forced conversion are a constant hallmark of Islamic history, but they are technically forbidden by Islamic law.”

At least there is admission by Spencer that it is “technically forbidden by Islamic law” to force convert anyone to Islam either by a direct or implied threat or any act of discrimination. Thank you Mr. Spencer for clarification. This doctrine of freedom of religion for all is based upon merits of Islam unlike dogmas of Christianity. The latter has spared no mythology to make a laughing stock of God and religion. Couple of verses of Quran separate Spencer’s confabulated view of history from reality of history i.e.

2:256-7. There is no compulsion in religion — [and as proven historically] the right way [of Islam] is indeed clearly distinct from error [i.e. of Christianity]. So whoever disbelieves in the devil [of forced conversions, colonization, exploitation, slavery of souls– both literally and figuratively] and believes in Allah, he indeed lays hold on the firmest handle which shall never break. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing. Allah is the Friend of those who believe — He brings them out of darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their friends are the devils who take them out of light into darkness [and Christian history is a testament to all this]. They are the companions of the Fire; in it they abide [both in here and hereafter].

If forced conversions were constant hallmark of Islamic history, then why is it so that it is the Christian Spain which is remembered for Inquisition, its trials, executions and exiles rather than the Muslim Dynasty that ruled Spain for 800 years? The latter are remembered for reviving the Jewish art and culture. If Spencer is so true in his assertion, then why India has more than a billion Hindus and the Muslims in sub-continent are still a minority, even though India was ruled for centuries by Muslim rulers? The Mogul Emperors were known for having Hindu wives and Hindu artists and generals as prominent members of their courts. Why the largest country in the world, Indonesia, never saw a foreign Muslim soldier on its soil? Spencer might be disappointed by these facts of history, if nothing else, by his own words i.e. his fabricated forced conversions are “technically forbidden by Islamic law.”

On the reverse, why does Spencer fail to tell the world the plight of Incas, Mayas and Aztecs and all the exploitation of the lands and its peoples that was wrought in the name of Salvation by his own religion where Christianity was spread at the tip of sword to save the ‘heathens’ from their own selves. Christianity claims ‘love’ and ‘forgiveness’ at its core. But the history tells us otherwise. With this kind of ‘love’ who needs ‘hate’.

Rebuttal 40c: Spencer – “Now, the idea in Islam is that Muslims must force to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. Not everybody will be forced to become a Muslim but non-Muslims will be relegated to second class status, not be able live in the society equal to the Muslims. And it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to fight to institute that kind of society.”

Sufficient is to say that this statement of Spencer is false, fabricated and absurd. Islam has nothing to do with Spencer’s allegation towards non-Muslims. Spencer is repeating himself. He instigated before the same topic by totally absurd meaning of ‘Dhimmi’, which was answered in Issue 15d. The movie falters at the door steps of simple dictionary and equates Islam with war, whereas it means peace, it equates Dhimmi as second class citizen, while it factually means extra care and burdened responsibility of the state towards its minorities.

Note: [comments in square brackets above are not part of the original quoted text]
Religion of Islam – Muhammad Ali
The Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz
Spanish Inquisition – Wikipedia
Golden Age of Jewish Culture in Spain – Wikipedia
Navaratans – In the Court of Akbar – Wikipedia
Economy in Spanish Colonization – Wikipedia
Religion in Spanish Colonization – Wikipedia

Leave a Reply