Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Prophethood
In the Name of Allah, the beneficence the Merciful, the creator and the Sustainer of the universe, I greet you with all of the greetings from Prophet
Adam through to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them Assalamu alaikum which means peace beyond to you. I'm your host, Hamad Rashid. Welcome to Islamic focus. In today's program, we'll be having the 10th and concluding session in our series on Prophethood in Islam. We'll continue our discussions which we started last week, on the effect of belief in all prophets, on the Muslims attitude, and actions towards non Muslims, particularly Christians and Jews. More specifically, in today's program, we'll be dealing with the common stereotype that Islam was spread by the sword. I have with me as my guest on today's program, Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's
University. Welcome to Islamic focus. And by the way,
since Today's topic is related to our program that we had last week for the benefit of our viewers who may not have seen last week's program, can you give it just a brief summary of the main points that we discussed in last week's program? five basic issues I believe we discussed last time. One
was that the general rules that the Quran establishes for the relationship between Muslims and non Muslims is that of justice, kindness and peaceful coexistence. And we refer particularly to chapter 66, or which has lots of information on this.
And he said that within this general rule that applies to all non Muslims, we find that the Quran
addresses the Jews and Christians in a particular term, that people have the book, and we explain why they are giving that special status and the fact that they are common to Muslims, in at least the basic notion of believing in God, the prophets who revelation basic moral code of life and the life here after.
Certainly we said that within this basic rule that applies to all there are definitely exceptions. And the Quran also specifies those exceptions, including those mentioned in chapter 60, and children five, and that is people who are really committing hostilities and violence against Muslims that they cannot expect to have friendship and intimacy. In the first point, we said that even in these cases, or in these exceptions, the door is not close to friendship. We caught it in the Quran, particularly chapter 41, verses 33, certifies, in which it's mentioned there also that one should inculcate in himself, the attitude of forgiveness, and tolerance, and so long as the attitudes of
hostility and violence against Muslims sees us, then a person would even extend friendship to those who previously were regarded as or regarded themselves as enemies. And finally, as an additional evidence of this attitude of tolerance as documented in the Quran, we refer to chapter five, verse six, in particular, in which it shows there that the food of the People of the Book, that is the meat slaughtered by Jews and Christians is allowed for Muslims to eat but not meat slaughtered by atheist or polytheist. And we said that the ultimate evidence of this tolerance is the fact that it's an Islamic law, a Muslim male is permitted to get married to as Jewish or Christian woman, but
not necessarily to those who are atheists are policies, which is a special privilege again, and we mentioned that the relationship of marriage is the biggest evidence of extension of friendship, and peaceful coexistence hopefully,
and the matter of relationship with management. Well, getting right into today's topic.
A claim is often made by
people that Islam was spread by the sword
either converted to Islam, or are you are you die? Is there anything in the Quran which deals with this issue of compassion in the in religion?
What does the craps table this? Definitely the crown has something to say about that. Of course this is a vital and important topic and the Quran being a complete revelation does not leave out any aspect of human life. To start with, I'd like to say that there is no single verse or no single verse in the entire Quran or in the saying of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him that either encourages or condones
compulsion in religion by use of force, pressures or manipulation. Perhaps you're entitled to
demand documentation of this, perhaps the the most obvious and most clear set of explanatory
documentation is found in chapter two, verse 256, and it says lekhraj has a de facto Diana Ross terminology that is, let there be no compulsion in religion, truth stand out clear from error. So in other words, not only is the Quran
silent on the issue, it actually is very clear and very positive, forbidding a true Muslim from committing this acts of of compulsion. The Quran further indicates that the matter of guidance is not something that we decide on that guidance is totally in the hands of God. Like for example, in chapter 10, verses 99 and 100. It says, if it had been the Lord's will, they could all believe, all who are on earth will you attend? That is when you then all Mohammed compelled mankind, again, is there well to believe no soul can believe except by the will of God, they obvious, very straightforward. Also, we find that the idea or the concept of bringing people to account on as to
whether they believed or not is a matter that is not up to us that only God is the judge, and he is the one to help people whether they have believed or not. Indeed, the Quran is very clear on the fact that the mission of Prophet Muhammad and those who follow him is simply to convey the message. For example, in chapter 16, verse 14, it says dy dt, part of it says dy dt or Mohammed is to make the message reach them. It is our part that is God's part, to call them to account. There are numerous other
evidences that you can find in the Quran, for example, the verse that says that
remind you are only a reminder you're not a guardian, or controller over them.
In chapter 2022, verse 17, there's similar statements also, that the matter of faith is something that no power on earth can force. It is law, it lies in the hands of God, when the heart is enlightened, the mind is open to receive that source, but no other human effort
can bring it force or bring that about, and more specifically, like I said, the question of compulsion is very clearly condemned. And in the Quran, weather it's like I say, force, pressure, or manipulation? Well, if the current forbids the Muslim from using force, in the spreading of Islam, what then what methods are permissible for the spreading of Islam? According to the Quran to bring the message to people who are non Muslims? Perhaps I can give you the answer directly from the Quran. Just select two
relevant verses. The first one appears in chapter 16 verse 125, which applies to all whether Jews, Christians or others, and it says, either of the cabin hikma two or more, but it has an app which I didn't build it yet. And that is invite all
to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious, doesn't say use the sword or pressure or manipulation, argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious, for the Lord knows best who have strayed from his path and who receives guidance.
As far as the Jews and Christians in particular people of the book, we find that the Quran also make a special reference to the approach in discussing religious matters with them. And that's the criteria against which you can hold anybody's behavior
in question, and that appears in chapter 29, verse 46, and it says, well, as much as you'd like it's a V 11 letter.
That is, dispute you're not that dispute you all Muslims, not with the people of the book that is Jews and Christians except with means better
Then we are disputation unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong and injury. But say, we believe in the revelation which has come down to us. And in that which has come down to you, our God, and your God is one God. And it is to him that we bow in Islam are in submission. I don't think I need to add anything more to this, the verses are so obvious and so self explanatory. Yes. jihad is the words again, let us use
quite a bit.
How do the teachings that we've just been discussing from the Quran How do these relate to the concept of jihad?
Well, the biggest problem when you discuss the concept of jihad is that in English, the common translation given to jihad is Hollywood. And to start with no wish, in the entire Quran,
nor in the saying, of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the equivalent of the English term holy war found anywhere. I know that this might sound rather startling, but it's true. Because Hollywood in English, aside from the connotative, meaning that goes with fanaticism, and forcing people in faith and so on. Even if you take the term itself, Hollywood, translate it into Arabic, it means how to look at data. And that term has
never appeared anywhere in the Quran, or in this thing of propaganda to start with. So I think it's a very misleading and distorted translation, to call jihad, a holy wars. And I think this is first point to start with the word Jihad and Arabic comes from the Arabic root jaida, that is, exerts or exertion of effort, or striving or struggling, in that sense, then the true meaning of the term Jihad as found in the Quran. And that gives you further evidence of this means simply to exert effort to strive or struggle in the presence of God and for his pleasure or for his cause.
In that sense, then it is erroneous like some people forget to say, they used to be some kind of
pillar, another pillar of Islam, and that is jihad. It is not the fifth or sixth pillar, pillar, had or struggled for the sake of God in that sense. It's not one pillar of Islam, it is the essence of Islam. We said Islam means submission to the will of God, how do you submit you submit through Jihad you submit by struggling and striving and exerting efforts in order to please God or to follow His commands? So in that sense, like I said, you had his essence of Islam in one sense.
Just to give you one documentation, the very term jihad is used, for example, in the Quran, in in reference to striping
in chapter 29, verse 69, which is the last verse in that chapter. It says, What Latina, gehad oficina de nom Superliner. So the word or the derivative of Jia Jia Hadopi exerted, appears there under translation. And those who strive in our cause that is in God's cause, we will certainly guide them to our test For verily God is with those who do right. There are other citations also, I can refer you For example, to chapter 22, verses 77 and 78, where it is very obvious there that you have is related and connected there, with worship with even prayers, which shows that any action, action any exertion, or struggling that the individual performs, for the sake of God, is actually the
within the concerns of the definition of jihad. This does not exclude does not exclude, to be honest. The fact that one aspect of that Jihad might take the form of military encounters for self defense or for the fighting of oppressors. There's no question about that. But it's erroneous to say that Jihad means or is connotated directly with Fighting Fighting could be or legitimate fighting could be one aspect of jihad, but not the totality of jihad. I think many of our viewers would be interested in in the this point because the explanation is you're giving and I think it's a little bit different than most people have commonly Come to think of when I think of jihad, would you mind
just going on perhaps and, and elaborating a little further on the various levels of jihad. Okay. One way of looking at it when you say that the essence of Islam is Jihad are struggling in the path of God. You can possibly divide that into three levers. Let's say one is Jihad within oneself or the individual level. One is jihad or struggle on the soul.
She lives at a community level. And the third is Jihad on the global or general, universal level.
As far as Jihad on the individual level, the prophet of Islam himself explained that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. One time he was returning back from a battle with the pagans, and he told his companions, Hey, now, we are returning from the minor. jihad or minor struggle is a major struggle. So people raised eyebrows, you know, people who are already putting their lives on the line in defense of Islam and defense of the of the land. And now he's telling them that this was mine. So it sounds that sounds strange to them. So they asked him what is that measure, she had, what could be more than that, he said, she had enough struggling against evil inclinations within
ourselves, which means then that the very foundation of, or the very core of jihad or struggle, is jihad against ourselves are against that even within ourselves, and that is the cornerstone for any other level or form of jihad. A second limit could be regarded as jihad or struggle within society, that is struggle against even indecency against oppression, and injustice. And this is known in Islamic terminology, as it appears in the Quran as a bit of a motto, and now yamaka that is ordaining all that is good and decent and forbidding or discouraging all that is evil. And in this, so that's another Jihad because you struggle in society, when you try to change rotten and corrupt
things, you have some difficulties that you have to face and you have to exert certain efforts, he has to convince people he has to talk to them. And that's one aspect of jihad, jihad is not by the sword only Jihad it also by the sun by writing by conviction.
A third level then would be the global jihad, which would mean also the fighting against oppression not only within one limited community, Islam does not acknowledge all this artificial lines determining this belong to this state or that state. oppression is oppression. whenever it's found in the world, Muslims have the obligation to try and fight it and try to stop it. And this is one aspect of the universality of Islam. This may take the form of actual battles, if other peaceful means failed to bring a halt to this violation of basic human rights of other people, and the freedom of choice.
Historically speaking, the teachings we've just been discussing, and in a good explanation have just been given us
have these teachings of the Quran been adhered to by Muslims? Historically speaking,
when you address a question like that, we have to be perfectly honest. And I might say we should avoid two very common extremes, not only dealing with the sand, but whenever you discuss the history of any people,
or followers of any faith,
that it would be unfair, and inaccurate to say that the history of Muslims which extends over 1400 years, in all parts of the world, which included hundreds of millions, and under all kinds of circumstances, have all been nothing but a series of violations of the teachings of the Quran, and their behavior has nothing to do whatsoever with the fun. I think this is just growing, or cutting things a little bit too far. But there's also another very similar type of extreme that anybody who comes and says that the history of any people or followers of any faith for 1400 years, in all kinds of places, is nothing but a history of ages where no infraction and no deviation whatsoever has
taken place. I think this is not correct, and not an honest way of putting it at all. It just applies, like I said to anybody or to any followers or anything is an example of this. No sincere Christian would accept the statement, for example, that if you wanted to understand Christianity, you have to explain the Barbarian crusades or the Inquisition in Spain or the fighting at present in Northern Ireland, between Protestants and Catholics, because any sincere Christians say hey, you better go back to the teachings of Christianity and find whether people's behavior measure up to those standards or not. The same thing applies to Islam. And now they say to any other people,
however, suffice to say at this juncture, because the details would require actually a separate series on history, and we hope to get into that. But suffice to say, Now, that the notion or claim, which is very stereotype type of claim that Islam was spread or preserved by the sword is nothing really more than a legend or Miss, which was really deliberately circulated in the medieval times for well known reasons, which might have some extension even today. However, it is something that
No serious modern scholars or historian is accepting or making any more. There might be some but very few
accepted when you refer to modern historians and scholars, are you referring to Muslim scholars and historians? No, not necessarily. In fact I if you have more time I can show you. We have about 10 minutes over 26 different creation, but let me select a few of them. Some of the very well known names in the West, for example,
a delicacy O'Leary and his book Islam at the crossroads. All of these are Christian scholars, essays history. It makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword, upon the conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever defeated.
Take another famous authors, James Michener. Most people are familiar with him, he wrote an article and 57 and Reader's Digest in which he says, no other religion in history is spread so rapidly as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts that idea. And the Quran is explicit in support of the freedom of conscious.
A very famous
scholars on religion also as written in his book Islam, he says the picture of Muslim soldiers advancing with a sword in one hand and the Quran, and the other is quite false.
A very well known historian, the British historian, he was he Well, he says that Islam flourished because it was the best social and political order of the time could offer and that in his book, history of the world.
Just one more, if you will.
orientalist Gibbon. He says
that the claim that Islam spread by the sword is a pernicious tenant that has been imputed on mohammedans. I have dispute Of course with the term Mohammed which is offensive and accurate, but at least the duty of extirpating all other religions by the sword. This charge of ignorance and bigotry is refuted by the Quran, by the history of Muslim man which means by that he was Muslim, was a man conquerors and by their public and legal toleration of the Christian worship as early as the six years of hijra, that's the migration of the Prophet.
He says the Prophet granted to the monks of the monastery of St. Catherine, near Mount Sinai, and to all Christians, a charter, which secured to the Christians, all the privileges and immunities, and the Muslims were enjoined to protect the Christians to guard them from all injuries, and to defend the churches and residences of their priests. They were not to be unfairly taxed. No Bishop was to be driven out of his bishopric no Christian was to be forced to reject his religion. No monk was to be expelled from his monastery. No pilgrim was to be detained from his pilgrimage, nor were the Christian Church has to be put down for the sake of building mosques or house houses for Muslims.
Christian women, married to Muslims were to enjoy their own religion, and not to be subjected to compulsion or annoyance of any kind. on that account, if the Christians should stand in need of assistance for record of their churches and monasteries, or any other matters pertaining to their religion, the Muslims were to assist them. Again, like I said, all of this, our Christian historians and scholar there are many others, Bernard Shaw, the British historian, Arnold Toynbee and many others. Like I said, any respectable and serious author
can no longer hold to this mythical or legendary claim that Islam spread by the sword. Absolutely. So far in the discussion of our topic, we've been discussing
what the Quran has to say about this whole question of this compulsion in Islam. And we've dealt with some other some just some very enlightening references from some of the modern scholars who've looked at this matter. But are there any other additional sources or any other facts, additional factual information that you can share with us to confirm the fact that Islam was not spread by the sword? Okay, I can give you a few points. But I just want to make one remark that the biggest next is that's a place that some people mixed up between the early words that Muslims during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and immediately after
World War Two, just to come
Tell people to accept religion, because like I said, the Quran does not condone does not accept that. And this did not happen, their wars and their fighting was either in self defense against those who tried to destroy them. And there are lots of historical evidence, and we can discuss that later. Or to remove, like I said, human tyranny, and everybody knows what kind of treatment the subjects of the Persian and Byzantine Empire were getting, as even many of the non Muslim historians and they have some conditions here to that effect, indicate that there is evidence that some of the natives and those countries that were conquered by Muslims who are welcomed very warmly, and some of
them even joined in their lines to fight against their core religions to were persecuting them more than they were,
you know, Christians or, or Byzantine emperors. So this is another area that, like I said, causes some people still mixed up because we Muslim thought that it must have been to force religion not to remove human tourney. But there are lots of logical and factual information that make it clear that this conclusion is not really something that you get out of thin air. First of all,
the whole notion of compassionate religion is not only contradictory to the very text of the Quran, as we have amply documented, but it is contrary to the very logic of Islam. The very logic of Islam is surrender or commitment to voluntary, choose to submit to the will of God and follow his his commands and his way of life. And like I said, before, no power on earth can impose something in your heart. So in Islamic law, it's not acceptable if I force you and say, You believe or die, and you believe that's not acceptable within Islamic law itself. And as we indicated before, even a wife, a Christian wife of a Muslim, should not be bothered, and she should be free to practice her
own face, let alone strangers or others. The second point to keep in mind is that any cursory look at the map of the Muslim world today, with a population of nearly 1 billion all over the world shows very conclusively that the great majority of Muslims today great majority, live in places where conquest or the sword has no role whatsoever, not the immediate area where the
early wars were taking place, or conquest. Second example, the largest Muslim country isn't an issue with about 120 million Muslims farther in Asia. What was the third? One fourths of the population of Russia about 50? Millions are Muslims suffering under all kinds of religious persecution, as everybody knows, which applies to other
people of other faiths to how did Islam spread in Russia, in China? Not only this, we find that in places like Central and South Africa, there are many countries that are majority Muslims, or countries that have a substantial minorities of Muslims. And it is one note that in many of those places, most of these places I should say, the sword had no role to play with it was not the war for forcing Chris in other faraway places like the Philippines, the Thailand and other places you find substantial, Muslim minorities. And it is obvious that Islam spread there through motions through holy people, quote, unquote, or people who devoted themselves for that particular mission. leaders,
of course, Great Britain and North America itself would be other illustrations. Well, that's that's another factor and South America. And to the best of my knowledge every day, there are people both in the United States and Canada who are turning to Islam, that include people who are among the most educated and the most religiously minded people in North America and Europe, sensing what is the sword? Another point also is that if it is true, or if it were true that Islam spread by the sword or military might, how is it that Islam continued to spread even much faster at the time of Muslim defeat, like one orientalist says that it's very strange that those who even affect Islam like the
seljuk Turks, and like the Mongols, then they themselves as conquerors embraced Islam, which is contrary to any logic, you know, most most of us would say that a conqueror imposes his religion, but those who invaded Muslim land data says became Muslim. There are records of history also of some of the highly placed people among the Crusaders who came to attack Muslims, and the under the excuse of deliberating the Holy Land and all that stuff. But actually, they ended up themselves embracing Islam. Brother, Jamal, I'm sorry, we have to stop at that point. Unfortunately, we've run out of time for today's program. I want to thank you for appearing on Islamic focus. I'd like to invite all
of you back next week when we will start the new series on Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon them as foretold in the Bible. Thank you for watching Islam as well.
See you next week.