No Compulsion in Religion

A messenger, not an enforcer

God sent all His Prophets (peace be upon them all) to deliver His message to humanity, clarifying right and wrong. It must be remembered that it is up to the people to accept or reject the message. By all means, a true Muslim’s role is to follow God’s message, be a good example of a moral being to others, and invite others to the Divine truth. There is no compulsion in religion, and this axiom can be considered as a religious obligation.

Quran 2: 256 “…Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from Error. whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks…”

Quran 42:48 “…But if they turn away (O Prophet, know that), We have not sent you to be their keeper: your duty is to deliver (the message)…”

Quran 18:29 “…Say, “The truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will reject….”

Quran 88:21-88:22 ‘…So, [O Prophet,] keep on preaching. Your task is only to preach. You can not compel them [to believe]….”

Why is compulsion in religion not an option?

Allah created human souls with innate spiritual goodness and awareness of the Divine. The Quran describes this spiritual awareness of the Divine and the ability to differentiate between good and bad as human’s “natural predisposition” (Fitrah).

Divine blueprint for the soul

1. Firstly, God allowed some of His own spirit to enter human souls during the process of creation of souls (Quran 32:9, 38:72). Before the souls were sent to this world, Allah asked them, and they expressed their awareness of God’s Divine presence and testified Him as their Lord (Quran 7:172).

2. Secondly, He perfected human souls with the moral faculty to differentiate between right and wrong and the ability to act upon them. Thus human souls received instincts, both good and bad (Quran 91:7-8).

3. Accordingly, the Quran suggests that the people who nurture their good instincts are the ones who will be successful. Conversely, Those who nurture their bad instincts will see ultimate failure. (Quran 91:9-10)

4. The people who, with their free will, choose to nurture their instinct to do good will continue to grow in their goodness. Those who are willing to respond to others’ needs, be truthful, be in awe of their Creator, their Maker will make it easy for them to stay in the course of truth, which will lead them to the extreme ease of heaven. On the contrary, people who choose to nurture their evil instincts, reject goodness, bear arrogance, think that they are absolutely self-sufficient, Allah will facilitate and make it easy for them to stray in their chosen course. Their chosen course will lead them to extreme distress, referred to as hell (Quran 92:5-10).

Compulsion is not in the Divine plan

Consequently, in the Quran, Allah urges human beings to align their actions with their God-given primordial nature, which He gave them at the time of their creation. With this in mind, we can see that it is the voluntary submission or voluntary rejection of God’s will is what in the test. With an effort to coerce, these actions are no longer considered voluntary. For this reason, compulsion is not a part of the divine spiritual design for human beings.

Was Islam spread by force?

The narrative that claims that Islam wants to convert all “infidels” to Islam or kill them is an Islamophobic trope. Muslims did not force convert people to help spread Islam over the centuries of the history of Islam. The Quran implies a strict “there is no compulsion in religion” motto. Forced conversion, if it happened over the centuries of Islam’s spread, happened against the Quran’s values. Similar incidents have been “rare”* or “exceptional”** rather than a norm in the history of Islam.

References: *Waines (2003) “An Introduction to Islam” Cambridge University Press. p. 53) ** Michael Bonner (2008). Jihad in Islamic History. Princeton University Press. pp. 89–90.).

No Compulsion in Religion.

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