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Some people claim that Islam would not have millions of adherents all over the world if it had not been spread by military force. Many school textbooks contain the picture of an Arab on horseback with the Quran in one hand and a sword in the other, symbolizing forcible conversion to the religion.
It has never been permitted to compel people to enter Islam by the use of weapons or any other means. If Islam was spread by the sword, then it was the sword of intellect, reason and sound convincing arguments, joined with the inherent force of truth, logic and understanding. Something that conquers the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Far from being spread by the sword, Islam has always accorded respect and freedom of choice to people of all faiths.
Allah says in the Quran:
"There shall be no compulsion in the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong" (2:256)
And Allah says in the Quran:
"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fine preaching, and debate with them in a way that is best" (16:125)
1) Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world, and the majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. But no Muslim army ever went into Indonesia or Malaysia. Muslim traders and educators carried the Message of Islam to those regions and impressed people as outstanding models of honesty and morality.
2) Similarly, Islam spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa although no Muslim army was ever dispatched there.
3) Despite the disappearance of Islamic rule from many regions of Asia and Africa, their people have remained Muslims. This shows that the effect of Islam is one of approval and moral conviction, quite in contrast to that of Western colonial occupation which left its formerly subjugated peoples with painful memories of exploitation, affliction and oppression.
4) Muslims ruled Spain for over 800 years. it is a documented historical fact that during this period Christians and Jews enjoyed freedom to practice their respective religions. But thereafter, under Christian Spain, Muslims and Jews were subjected to tribunals of inquisition and torture.
5) There was no "sword of Islam" held over non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries. Until fairly recently Christian and Jewish minorities have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors in the Middle East.
6)Muslims ruled India for over 800 years, during which they possessed enough power and authority to force all the people to convert to Islam. But they did not do so, and thus, more than 80% of the population remains non-Muslim.
7)Worldwide statistics for the period from 1934-1984 show that adherents to Islam had increased by 235%, while adherents to Christianity had increased by 47%. There was obviously no Islamic conquest during that fifty-year period.
8)The fastest growing religion in America and Europe today is Islam in spite of the fact that Muslims in these lands are still small minorities. The only sword they have in their possession is the sword of truth. It is the sword which is converting people to Islam.