can Islam be called the religion of
peace when it was spread by the sword? ?
Answer: It is 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. The following points will
make it clear, that far from being
spread by the sword, it was the inherent
force of truth, reason and logic that
was responsible for the rapid spread of
1. Islam means peace. Islam comes from
the root word ‘salaam’, which means
peace. It also means submitting one’s
will to Allah (swt). Thus Islam is a
religion of peace, which is acquired by
submitting one’s will to the will of the
Supreme Creator, Allah (swt).
2. Sometimes force has to be used to
maintain peace. Each and every human
being in this world is not in favour of
maintaining peace and harmony. There are
many, who would disrupt it for their own
vested interests. Sometimes force has to
be used to maintain peace. It is
precisely for this reason that we have
the police who use force against
criminals and anti-social elements to
maintain peace in the country. Islam
promotes peace. At the same time, Islam
exhorts it followers to fight where
there is oppression. The fight against
oppression may, at times, require the
use of force. In Islam force can only be
used to promote peace and justice.
3. Opinion of historian De Lacy O’Leary.
The best reply to the misconception that
Islam was spread by the sword is given
by the noted historian De Lacy O’Leary
in the book "Islam at the cross road"
"History makes it clear however, that
the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping
through the world and forcing Islam at
the point of the sword upon conquered
races is one of the most fantastically
absurd myth that historians have ever
4. Muslims ruled Spain for 800 years.
Muslims ruled Spain for about 800 years.
The Muslims in Spain never used the
sword to force the people to convert.
Later the Christian Crusaders came to
Spain and wiped out the Muslims. There
was not a single Muslim in Spain who
could openly give the adhan, that is the
call for prayers.
5. 14 million Arabs are Coptic
Christians. Muslims were the lords of
Arabia for 1400 years. For a few years
the British ruled, and for a few years
the French ruled. Overall, the Muslims
ruled Arabia for 1400 years. Yet today,
there are 14 million Arabs who are
Coptic Christians i.e. Christians since
generations. If the Muslims had used the
sword there would not have been a single
Arab who would have remained a
6. More than 80% non-Muslims in India.
The Muslims ruled India for about a
thousand years. If they wanted, they had
the power of converting each and every
non-Muslim of India to Islam. Today more
than 80% of the population of India are
non-Muslims. All these non-Muslim
Indians are bearing witness today that
Islam was not spread by the sword.
7. Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia is
a country that has the maximum number of
Muslims in the world. The majority of
people in Malaysia are Muslims. May one
ask, "Which Muslim army went to
Indonesia and Malaysia?"
8. East Coast of Africa. Similarly,
Islam has spread rapidly on the East
Coast of Africa. One may again ask, if
Islam was spread by the sword, "Which
Muslim army went to the East Coast of
9. Thomas Carlyle. The famous historian,
Thomas Carlyle, in his book "Heroes and
Hero worship", refers to this
misconception about the spread of Islam:
"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 man’s 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 takes a
sword and try to propagate with that,
will do little for him. You must get
your sword! On the whole, a thing will
propagate itself as it can."
10. No compulsion in religion. With
which sword was Islam spread? Even if
Muslims had it they could not use it to
spread Islam because the Qur’an says in
the following verse: "Let there be no
compulsion in religion: Truth stands out
clear from error" [Al-Qur’an 2:256]
11. Sword of the Intellect. It is the
sword of intellect. The sword that
conquers the hearts and minds of people.
The Qur’an says in Surah Nahl, chapter
16 verse 125: "Invite (all) to the way
of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful
preaching; and argue with them in ways
that are best and most gracious." [Al-Qur’an
12. Increase in the world religions from
1934 to 1984. An article in Reader’s
Digest ‘Almanac’, year book 1986, gave
the statistics of the increase of
percentage of the major religions of the
world in half a century from 1934 to
1984. This article also appeared in ‘The
Plain Truth’ magazine. At the top was
Islam, which increased by 235%, and
Christianity had increased only by 47%.
May one ask, which war took place in
this century which converted millions of
people to Islam?
13. Islam is the fastest growing
religion in America and Europe. Today
the fastest growing religion in America
is Islam. The fastest growing religion
in Europe in Islam. Which sword is
forcing people in the West to accept
Islam in such large numbers?
14. Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson. Dr. Joseph
Adam Pearson rightly says, "People who
worry that nuclear weaponry will one day
fall in the hands of the Arabs, fail to
realize that the Islamic bomb has been
dropped already, it fell the day
MUHAMMED (pbuh) was born".
by Dr Zakir Naik