wealth which were unjustly confiscated by the Quraish in
Makkah before the immigration. The caravan escaped the ambush but after learning about the incident the leaders of Quraish prepared a relatively large and well-equipped army to attack the Muslims. Consequently the first decisive battle took place at Badr, and the smaller and ill equipped Muslim force of 313 fighters crushed the arrogant Quraish army with a humiliating and decisive defeat.
Allah Most Exalted and Supreme, describes the just rationale for this battle and those to follow:
((They are) those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly, only because they say ëOur Lord is Allah.í If Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, many monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure, would surely have been pulled down. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His cause. Indeed Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might. (They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer, give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And with Allah rests the end and decision of all affairs.) (22:40-41)
And Allah, the Exalted, says:
(And why shouldnít you fight in the cause of Allah, and
for those who, being weak, are persecuted and oppressed? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ëOur Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, from Yourself, a protector, and raise for us, from Yourself, a helper!) (4:75)
And Allah, the Exalted, says:
Islam is The Religion of Peace
(Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors.)
In all the battles fought and all the victories that Allah's Messenger and his companions achieved within the period of twenty-three years of the Prophetís mission in Makkah and then in Medinah, only three hundred and seventy five people were killed in this fighting. In the ninth year of the Hijra (Immigration) known as the Year of Delegations, the Prophet (pbuh) met with about a hundred various delegations from tribes over the entire Arabian Peninsula to confer and negotiate with the Prophet (pbuh). He met them with generosity and magnanimity and replied to all their questions and concerns about the Islamic Creed (Aqeedah) and Law (Shariíah). The majority of them were suitably impressed by the call of the Prophet (pbuh) and they accepted Islam. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) also sent letters to the leaders of the surrounding regions calling them to accept the Message of Allah as will be mentioned below.
In the Prophetís lifetime and soon afterwards, the entire
Arabian Peninsula was for the first time in its history unified in one just and egalitarian rule of law and divine religion. The majority of Arabs accepted Islam willfully in droves after hearing the Qurían, seeing the example of the Prophet in his Sunnah (Way) and his companions, and witnessing the Islamic system, with only a few holdouts among some Jewish and Christian pockets, allowed to remain within the Islamic State on their old faith by contract stipulating specific rights and obligations and the payment of the Jizya tax in lieu of the stateís protection and not participating in military service. Indeed this revolutionary change was a miraculous
achievement considering the meager material means by which
it took place and its lasting worldwide effect, and Allah Most
Great gives success to whom He will.
The rightly-guided Caliphs, companions and righteous predecessors followed the example of the Prophet (pbuh) after his demise, defending the Islamic State from its enemies, conquering the surrounding tyrannical empires which threatened their existence and spreading Islam by the zeal of their faith and missionary activity and with their excellent upright morals and just relations. These individuals were, by no standards, equal in number or war equipment, preparations, and professional military skills, to the people they vanquished, but the vitality of their divine faith and mission and moral superiority of their characters conquered the common peopleís hearts and minds before there was a need to vanquish the corrupt tyrannical armies whose oppression of the masses was unbearable.
One of the new converts to Islam in our time, Basheer
Ahmad, said in reflection on this issue: ìOne of the most puzzling questions to me, and one of my most serious concerns prior to accepting Islam and embracing it as a way of life, was that we Christians claim that Islam spread by the edge of sword. Therefore, I posed the following question to myself: If that claim is true, why, then, do we notice that many people, in every corner of the world, still adhere to Islam and embrace it, join it, and accept it as a way of life? Why do we notice people come to join Islam daily, without any compulsion or force by anyone?î [Paraphrased from Dr. Imad- du-Deen Khalil: ìWhat Do They Say about Islam?î p.295]
Norman A. Daniel says on the origins of the fabrication of this myth ìÖ West formed a more or less invariable canon of
beliefs about Islam; it decided for itself what Islam was...
The important thing was it suited the West... it gave Christendom self-respect in dealing with a civilization in many ways its superior.î [Islam and the West: The Making of an Image, p. 270]
De Lacy O'Leary comments on this fallacy: ìHistory makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.î [Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923, p. 8]
Dr. Gustav LeBon states in his book ìCivilization of the Arabs [p.127ñ128]: ì...force was never a factor in the spread of the Koranic teachings, and that the Arabs left those they had subdued free to exercise their religious beliefs. If it happened that some Christian peoples embraced Islam and adopted Arabic as their language, it was mainly due to the various kinds of justice on the part of the Arab victors, with the like of which the non-Moslems were not acquainted. It was also due to the tolerance and leniency of Islam, which was unknown to the other religions.î [Paraphrased from Dr.Imad- du-Deen Khalil: ìWhat Do They Say about Islam? p.314]
He also says: ìÖthe early CaliphsÖ were remarkably kind in the way they treated the peoples of Syria, Egypt, Spain and every other country they subdued, leaving them to practice their laws and regulations and beliefs and imposing only a small Jizya in return for their protection and keeping peace among them. In truth, nations have never known merciful and tolerant conquerors like the Arabs."
If Islam did spread as a consequence to the wars imposed on
the Muslims from those enemies threatening their survival, and the conquests of these oppressive and corrupt regimes that followed consequently, is this unique and unknown in history, especially when compared to other civilizations? What is truly unique of the Islamic conquests is that they are generally liberation from oppression, as in the famous answers that the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) gave to the Emperor of Persia when he asked them what had brought the Muslims to their lands, as mentioned in the history books: ìAllah has sent us to take whoever wishes from the slavery of mankind to other men, to the servitude and worship of Allah, from the confines of this world to the expanse (which Islam brings to this world and the Hereafter), and from the injustice of the ways of life (of the worldly rulers) to the justice of Islam.î [see Ibn Katheer, Bidayah wa Nihayah].
In direct contrast to the many examples of massacres, rapes and pillaging, and injustices in history mentioned in the preface, we do not find comparable accounts in the history of these early Islamic conquests.
Thomas Carlyle, in his famous series of lectures, commented on the spread of Islam with the following words: ìMuch has been said of Mahometís propagating his Religion by the sword. It is no doubt far nobler what we have to boast of the Christian Religion, that it propagated itself peaceably in the way of preaching and conviction. Yet with all, if we take this for an argument of the truth or falsehood of a religion, there is a radical mistake in it. The sword indeed: but where will you get your sword! Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one. In one manís head alone, there it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world
believes it; there is one man against all men. That _he_ take a
sword, and try to propagate with that, will do little for him. You must first get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can. We do not find, of the Christian Religion either, that it always disdained the sword, when once it had got one. Charlemagneís conversion of the Saxons was not by preaching. I care little about the sword: I will allow a thing to struggle for itself in this world, with any sword or tongue or implement it has, or can lay hold of. We will let it preach, and pamphleteer, and fight, and to the uttermost bestir itself, and do, beak and claws, whatsoever is in it; very sure that it will, in the long-run, conquer nothing which does not deserve to be conquered. What is better than itself, it cannot put away, but only what is worse. In this great Duel, Nature herself is umpire, and can do no wrong: the thing which is deepest-rooted in Nature, what we call
_truest_, that thing and not the other will be found growing at last.î [ëHeroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History,í Lecture 2, Friday, 8th May 1840]
In comparison to the above, let us take some passages from the Holy Bible and read what the Jews and Christians hold as sacred and divine guidance about the conduct of war, and which has lead them in times of their expansions and conquests.
We read in the Book of Deuteronomy:
ì10/When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it,
then proclaim peace unto it.11/And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.12/And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: 13/And when the LORD thy God
hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every
male thereof with the edge of the sword:14/But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.15/Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.16/But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
17/But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded theeÖî [Deuteronomy 20: 10-17].
On the conquest of the city of Jericho and the fate of the indigenous inhabitants therein we read: "The people called and used the trumpets so the wall fell in its place, they entered the city and murdered all its people, males, females, children, and the old people, even the cows, goats, and donkeys, using swords." [Yusha' 6/20]
In the towns of Muqeideh and Labneh, they did the same as in Jericho. [Yusha' 10/28].
A perplexing passage of the Gospel of Mathew on a statement of Jesus () reads: ìThink not that I am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace, but a sword." [Matt. 10:35-37; and compare Luke 22:36]
What is this sword? Who has the authority to raise it? This is not clear and is hotly contested. Perhaps it will be raised upon his second coming. Until Constantine the early Christians were a persecuted minority apparently committed to non-
violence and waiting for his imminent return, but thereafter,
when Trinitarian Christianity became the official state religion in the era after Constantine, the sword was welded by the State, and Christian rulers down through history conducted numerous wars and conquests in the name of religion. The Christian principle of obedience to any authority in power is based upon the purported statement of Jesus () to ìrender unto Caesar.î This was increasingly extended by the Christian theologians to rationalize and legitimize the right of divine rule and then, even national and secular rule, on the basis of Pauline doctrine as enshrined in his decree: ìEveryone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.î [(NIV) Romans 13:1]
The statements and facts above will be compared with some of the guidance from Allahís Book, the Qurían, and the Way of the Prophet, the Sunnah, to provide more proofs that indeed Islam is the religion of peace, despite the fact that some disobedient Muslims have distorted, by word and deed, the image of Islam, and despite the venomous propaganda, slander and ridiculous misinformation fabricated and distributed by the enemies of Islam in their crusades against Islam and the Muslims.
We do not deny that aberrations and injustices took place occasionally by some of the Muslims, but the general sweep of historical trends is our evidence, as noted above. And along these lines it may be pertinent to mention a couple more examples, since they show a general pattern. The Christian conquerors of Jerusalem slaughtered all of its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants, whereas the re-conquest of Jerusalem by Salahudeen al-Ayubi stands as a noteworthy example of
magnanimity and generosity. We also have the contrast of
Andalus (Muslim Spain) and Anatolia (Asia minor). The Christians expelled the Muslims and Jews from Spain or put them to the sword or forced them to convert to Christianity during the infamous ìInquisition,î the paradigm of the treatment of Muslims under Christian rule. In the same era when the Muslims mostly of Turkish stock conquered what is now Turkey, they were comparatively much more tolerant, and to this day the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church remains in Istanbul (the conquered Constantine). The noted Orientalist Sir Thomas Arnold rejects this malicious propaganda about Islam saying: ìÖof any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christendom throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of Muhammadan [sic] governments towards them" [Sir Thomas W. Arnold: The Preaching of Islam, a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith, Westminster A. Constable & Co., London, 1896, p. 80]
The unfortunate reality of history is that European rather than Islamic historical treads have come to dominate the world, and that the reactions against the incessant religious wars among the Christian sects of Europe created the seedbed
for the rise of modern European secularism, humanism,
nationalism, atheism, and godlessness, and we see that these trends are the roots of the major political and socioeconomic plagues ravishing mankind to this day.