Sunday, June 12, 2016

What does the Religion of Peace Teach About ... Forced Conversion

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What does the  Religion of Peace Teach About ... Forced Conversion


Muhammad's efforts to recruit peacefully at Mecca netted less than 100 followers in 13 years - mostly friends and family.  His tactics changed drastically during his last ten years.  Once he obtained the power to do so, he began forcing others to accept his claims about himself at the point of a sword.  In many places in the Hadith, he tells his followers that he has been ordered by Allah to fight unbelievers until they profess their faith in Islam (the Shahada)

During these later years, Muhammad did not seem at all bothered by conversions that were made under obvious duress.  These included that of his sworn enemy of Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind.  According to Muslim historians, when Abu Sufyan went to seek peace with Muhammad, he was instead forced to embrace Islam.  The exact words spoken to him in Muhammad's presence were,  "Submit and testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the apostle of Allah before you lose your head" - (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 814).  He did.

The entire city of Mecca followed suit, even though the residents and leaders detested Muhammad and resisted his preaching from the beginning.  Most of them "converted" to Islam the day that he suddenly marched through their city with an army.  Only the most credulous of believers would think that this was a genuine religious epiphany - just happening to coincide with the sword at their necks.

Meccans who would not change their religion were forcibly expelled from the city following that last Haj (Quran 9:5).  The Christians and Jews living in Arabia at the time suffered the same fate, courtesy of a deathbed directive from Muhammad.  They were given the choice of either accepting Islam or being forced off their land (Sahih Muslim 19:4366).

The Jews at Khaybar were not at war with Muhammad when he ordered his Jihadis to attack them.  Even his faithful son-in-law, Ali, whom he chose to head the mission, was somewhat perplexed as to the pretext on which they were to assault this peaceful farming community so far away from Medina:
Muhammad said: 'Proceed on and do not look about until Allah grants you victory', and Ali went a bit and then halted and did not look about and then said in a loud voice: 'Allah's Messenger, on what issue should I fight with the people?' Thereupon he (the Prophet) said: 'Fight with them until they bear testimony to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger'  (Sahih Muslim 31:5917)
The Jews were caught entirely be surprise, of course.  Their wealth was stolen and their women and children taken and distributed as slaves by the prophet of Islam to his men.  Muhammad even took a woman for himself - after ordering the death of her husband.

Before he died, Muhammad sent his warriors against pagan Arab tribes, such as the al-Harith, demanding that they either convert to Islam or be wiped out (naturally, they opted for the Religion of Peace).  He cursed Christians and Jews to the very end (Bukhari 8:427). 

According to al-Shafi in "The Ordinances of the Quran", Muhammad "defeated the people until they entered Islam by hook or by crook."  Muslims are taught to follow in the way of their prophet.  A devotee under the reign of Umar put it this way "Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute)" (Bukhari 53:386)

Likewise, Abu Bakr, Muhammad's closest companion and immediate successor, pressed Jihad aggressively into foreign territory against people who did not want war and were of no threat.  In a letter sent to the Persians, the caliph bluntly stated, "You should convert to Islam, and then you will be safe, for if you don't, you should know that I have come to you with an army of men that love death, as you love life."

Through the centuries Muslims have forced Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, pagans and others to accept Islam, either by bluntly offering them death as an alternative, or by making their lives so miserable (ie. taxes, denial of rights...) that the conquered eventually convert to Islam under the strain.