There is no compulsion in Islam

Posted on April 21, 2007. Filed under: Talibanization, Terrorism |

A lot of people are coming to my blog through a search for a Hadith that allows ‘stopping evil with their own hands’. Yes, such a saying does exist in a book compiled decades after the death of the prophet and his companions. The Quran in my view takes precedance over all hadith. For those who are looking for Islam’s position on forcing their view of an Islamic life upon the rest of the population, may I present a sampling of verses from the Quran that explicitly admonish any forceful imposition of Islam on others.
2:256 There is no compulsion in religion, for the right way is clearly (different) from the wrong way. Whoever therefore rejects the forces of evil and believes in God, he has taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way, for God is All Hearing and Knowing.

16:82 But if they turn away from you, (O Prophet remember that) your only duty is a clear delivery of the Message (entrusted to you).

6:107 Yet if God had so willed, they would not have ascribed Divinity to aught besides him; hence, We have not made you their keeper, nor are you (of your own choice) a guardian over them.

4:79, 80 (Say to everyone of them,) ‘Whatever good betides you is from God and whatever evil betides you is from your own self and that We have (O Prophet) sent you to mankind only as a messenger and all sufficing is God as witness. Whoso obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys God. And for those who turn away, We have not sent you as a keeper.”

11:28 (Noah to his people) He (Noah) said “O my people! think over it! If I act upon a clear direction from my Lord who has bestowed on me from Himself the Merciful talent of seeing the right way, a way which you cannot see for yourself, does it follow that we can force you to take the right path when you definitely decline to take it?°

17:53, 54 And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner (unto those who do not share their beliefs). Verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men; for verily; Satan is man’s foe …. Hence, We have not sent you (Unto men O Prophet) with power to determine their Faith.

21:107 to 109 (O Prophet?) ‘We have not sent you except to be a mercy to all mankind:” Declare, “Verily, what is revealed to me is this, your God is the only One God, so is it not up to you to bow down to Him?’ But if they turn away then say, “I have delivered the Truth in a manner clear to one and all, and I know not whether the promised hour (of Judgment) is near or far.”

22:67 To every people have We appointed ceremonial rites (of prayer) which they observe; therefore, let them not wrangle over this matter with you, but bid them to turn to your Lord (since that is the main objective of religion). You indeed are rightly guided. But if they still dispute you in this matter, (then say,) `God best knows (the value of) what you do.”

88:21, 22; also see 24:54 And so, (O Prophet!) exhort them, your task is only to exhort; you cannot compel them to believe.

36:16, 17 (Three Messengers to their people)Said (the Messengers), “Our Sustainer knows that we have indeed been sent unto you, but we are not bound to more than clearly deliver the Message entrusted to us.’

39:41 Assuredly, We have sent down the Book to you in right form for the good of man. Whoever guided himself by it, does so to his own advantage, and whoever turns away from it does so at his own loss. You certainly are not their keeper.

42:6, 48 And whoso takes for patrons others besides God, over them does God keep a watch. Mark, you are not a keeper over them. But if they turn aside from you (do not get disheartened), for We have not sent you to be a keeper over them; your task is but to preach ….

64:12 Obey God then and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away (no blame shall attach to our Messenger), for the duty of Our Messenger is just to deliver the message.

67:25, 26 And they ask, “When shall the promise be fulfilled if you speak the Truth?” Say, “The knowledge of it is verily with God alone, and verily I am but a plain warner.”

60:8 Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.


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7 Responses to “There is no compulsion in Islam”

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Good reading.
Unfortunately we are personality driven people. Ready to die for the Prophet but not ready to follow his Seerah.
Thanks for the post.

if i’m not completely off the mark, a few muslim countries actually have punishments for apostasy (i think they range from imprisonment to being stoned to death). i find that quite horrifying, because i am pretty sure that a significant number (albeit a minority) must have abandoned their faith a long time ago but are forced to keep up appearances by attending jummah occasionally and fasting or just keeping their mouth shut about their beliefs (or lack thereof). what a depressing way to live!

i’ve been aware of the ‘there’s no compulsion in religion’ verse for quite some time and it troubles me greatly to think that laws are formulated in these ‘islamic’ countries based on ahadith and not on what the Quran actually says!

I think the verses of koran speak for themselves. Even the prophet is sent as just a messenger with no authority to enforce islam on anyone. And no responsibility should people not heed his message. He is not our keeper. Prophets had no power to determine people’s faith. Infact aggressive behaviour in spreading the word of god is seen as the Devil spreading discord on earth.

Allah said in the Quran, {There is no compulsion in religion}; [2:256]. This is the explanation on this Ayah found in my book, Holy Wars…Crusades…Jihad, “Ibn Kathir said, ‘This Ayah means, ‘Do not force anyone to embrace the religion of Islam, because Islam is clear, plain and its evidences and proofs are indisputable. Therefore, it is not necessary that anyone be forced to embrace it. Rather, those whom Allah guides, opens their hearts and enlightens their minds towards Islam, will embrace it with knowledge. Those whom Allah prevents their hearts and seals their hearing and sight from accepting Islam, will not benefit from being forced to embrace it’; Tafsir ibn Kathir, Vol. 1, Pg., 416.’” Thus, this Ayah is about those who are not Muslim: Muslims are not allowed to force those who are not Muslim –to begin with- to embrace Islam. What does this have to do at all with the punishment of those who are Muslim but commit the crime of abandoning Islam, thus, becoming non-Muslim after they had been Muslim? The opinion mentioned in the question is amazing: it indicates the type of ‘knowledge’ that prevails among many Muslims these days. It seems that the reason behind using this sick logic to invalidate Islamic Law, is to suit modern-day disbelievers, who will stop at nothing less than the complete corruption of Islam, {Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you until you follow their religion. Say: “Verily, the Guidance of Allâh (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur’an [and surely, the Sunnah, the practical Bayan (explanation) of the Quran]), then you would have against Allâh neither any Walî (protector or guardian) nor any helper}; [2:120].
These are two completely different topics: forcing non-Muslims to embrace Islam vs. the punishment, carried out by the Islamic State, of those who were Muslim but committed the crime of abandoning Islam. If we follow this silly reasoning, then what about the remainder of the Hadeeth that legislates this law, as al-Bukhari and Muslims reported it from Allah’s Prophet, who said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Messenger, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas (Law of Equity) for murder; a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse; and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.” Should we also abandon the punishment for the adulterer, since ‘there is no compulsion in religion’? Should we also abandon other parts of the Islamic Penal code if the offense does not really harm others, such as abandoning Prayer, drinking, cursing the Prophet, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, etc., since ‘there is no compulsion in religion’? Who has any right to contradict the Prophet of Allah, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, who says, “He who reverts from his religion, then kill him”; [as-Silsilah as-Sahihah 487]? And those who contradict him, had they been alive during his time, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, would they have corrected the Prophet, who received the Quran, by reminding him that in Islam, which he brought from Allah, ‘there is no compulsion in religion’? Muslims should be strong and stand behind every part of their Law, if they seek Allah’s Help and Support that is. As for the second part of the question, about if we leave the apostate un-punished he might go back to Islam, then what is stopping him from doing so before being killed, even if to become a hypocrite? What if he does not repent in the future and tempts others who have weak hearts and faith to follow him, should we stand idle while whole segments of the Muslim Society becomes non-Muslim? Hopefully, no Evangelical will pick up on this last sentence of mine to use it against Islam, because I will remind them of this nice ‘piece’ from the law that their ‘prince of peace’ allegedly (this is completely false of course) revealed to the prophets of old: Deuteronomy 13: “1. If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2. And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3. Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. 6. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7. Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8. Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9. But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 11. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you. 12. If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, 13. Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; 14. Then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; 15. Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. 16. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. 17. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers; 18. When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.”
Thank you for your question and I hope it was clear enough to use it against those who entertain these ideas.
As-salamu alaikum warahmatullah

Wajid, you are still using hadith to justify punishing muslims who have strayed from Islam. Excuse me, but I have a hard time believing books written under the patronage of caliphs who were trying to consolidate power for themselves and using religion to that effect. Please stay with the koran.

One of the ways, I have seen fellow muslims confuse themselves and others is by going on tangents. We are not talking about punishing crimes. We are talking about people punishing percieved sins and playing god. We are talking about forcing one’s view of Islam on others. Leave the sins for god to handle.

Ibn kathir’s school of thought gave birth to the salafist/wahabi sects that believe sheding Shia blood is halal and are the source of terrorism around the world.

As for you quoting Deuteronomy, the book is from the 7th B.C. It was not revealed to Jesus ‘prince of peace’. Muslims already believe that the Jews and Christians altered the Torait and Injeel. I can however see a pattern here, you refer to religious texts written hundreds of years after the original prophet.

Wajid, what are you so afraid of? Why do Muslims get so worked up by the idea of someone leaving Islam? Why are you so possessive about your faith? Honestly, you seem to be hyper-paranoid thinking that ‘modern-day disbelievers, who will stop at nothing less than the complete corruption of Islam’ – do you really think that disbelievers wants that? do you think they even care?! don’t you think most regular people are just involved in their own day-today lives, trying to pay off their mortgages and keeping their 9-5 jobs or finding the perfect partner or making their marriage work? do you really think most regular people have the time to set aside for the ‘complete corruption of Islam’??

you demonstrate your paranoia here as well: “What if he does not repent in the future and tempts others who have weak hearts and faith to follow him, should we stand idle while whole segments of the Muslim Society becomes non-Muslim?”

so you’re willing to have a man killed on a ‘what if’ basis? YOU do not know if he will repent or not, presumably only Allah knows that. you want to have him killed because he MAY tempt others to become non-Muslims? you just sound bloodthirsty, and not very Islamic (the religion of ‘peace’). besides, tell me, is your faith or the Muslim societies faith really so weak that they will get swayed by an apostate? isn’t Allah guiding everyone, including those with weak faith? will they not be swayed ONLY if Allah allows them to be (swayed)?

do you realize that by condoning the death penalty, you are helping create a climate of fear and hatred? an apostate is forced to lie about his loss of faith because of the fear of death. had he been allowed to speak openly about it, perhaps someone (kinder than YOU obviously) would have been able to guide him back to religion. but no, YOU want him killed preemptively just because YOU are afraid that he MIGHT entice other to leave religion (btw, did it occur to you that you could simply make ‘enticement to apostasy’ a crime in Islamic states and save yourself the trouble of killing people before they actually commit a crime?).

Finally, read this carefully:

4:137: “Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the truth, and again come to believe, and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of the truth – God will not forgive them, nor will He guide them in any way.”

note the part where God obviously talks about those who believe and then apostate and then grow to believe again. aside from the obvious point that one can not grow to believe AGAIN if one already dead (thanks to YOU) which frankly crushes any argument for death as a valid punishment for apostasy in my books, a person can grow to believe AGAIN if he is given the room and the opportunity to do so. and this can not be done with threats of death or violence or severe punishment but with love and kindness (as no doubt the Prophet would have done).

now go back and read the ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ ayah and try to figure out what it means without consulting any other books, because Allah also gave you a brain which you ought to be using instead of relying on Ibn Kathirs.

this verse could be applied to both non-believers and apostates. neither should be forced by the state or anyone else to believe…they should be given the freedom to embrace Islam or return to, when they truly want to.

think about it…do you REALLY want an Islamic state full of hypocrites and liars who are forced into this corner because of your thirst for the blood of an apostate? would you rather not create an atmosphere of kindness and justice, where people are free to admit their struggle with faith and be guided back to the ‘right’ path?

Re: The no compulsion verse – that was actually a Meccan verse when the muslims were weak and couldn’t really fight the unbelievers.

That verse, by most scholarly accounts, has now been abrogated [an Islamic method of choosing which of the 2 conflicting verses in the quran should be followed] and then replaced with the much harsher Medinite verses (e.g. 9:5 that calls for slaying the unbelievers).

So um yeah, Islam isn’t that peaceful as its cut out to be – for every one of these peaceful tolerant verses Muhammad said in Mecca, he had several many more “kill all unbeliever” verses once he was in power in Medina.

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