Quran Contradiction

Compel them or Not?

Sam Shamoun

The Quran repeatedly warns Muhammad against compelling or forcing people to believe in his message since his only responsibility is to preach to them and let Allah handle the rest:

Whether We shall show thee (within thy life-time) part of what we promised them or take to ourselves thy soul (before it is all accomplished), - thy duty is to make (the Message) reach them: it is our part to call them to account. S. 13:40 Y. Ali

But if they turn away, thy duty is only to preach the clear Message. S. 16:82 Y. Ali

Your Lord knows you best; He will have mercy on you if He pleases, or He will chastise you if He pleases; and We have not sent you as being in charge of them. S. 17:54 Shakir

Say: Obey Allah and obey the messenger. But if ye turn away, then (it is) for him (to do) only that wherewith he hath been charged, and for you (to do) only that wherewith ye have been charged. If ye obey him, ye will go aright. But the messenger hath no other charge than to convey (the message) plainly. S. 24:54

Surely We have revealed to you the Book with the truth for the sake of men; so whoever follows the right way, it is for his own soul and whoever errs, he errs only to its detriment; and you are not a custodian over them. S. 39:41 Shakir

And (as for) those who take guardians besides Him, Allah watches over them, and you have not charge over them… But if they turn aside, We have not sent you as a watcher over them; on you is only to deliver (the message); and surely when We make man taste mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat; and if an evil afflicts them on account of what their hands have already done, then - surely man is ungrateful. S. 42:6, 48 Shakir

So remind them (O Muhammad), you are only a one who reminds. You are not a dictator over them. S. 88:21-22 Hilali-Khan

The reason the Quran gives against compelling people to embrace Islam is that it is not the will of Allah for everyone to become Muslims. The Islamic scripture testifies that if Allah wanted to he could have caused everyone to believe in Muhammad’s religion; but this is not what he desires since he has determined that many shall never believe in order that they may end up in hell:

Why should ye be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? God hath upset them for their (evil) deeds. Would ye guide those whom God hath thrown out of the Way? For those whom God hath thrown out of the Way, never shalt thou find the Way. S. 4:88 Y. Ali

Had Allah willed, they had not been idolatrous. We have not set thee as a keeper over them, nor art thou responsible for them. S. 6:107 Pickthall

And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers? It is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of Allah. He hath set uncleanness upon those who have no sense. S. 10:99-100 Pickthall

And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them. Then Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise. S. 14:4

Whomsoever Allah guides, he is the guided one, and whomsoever He sends astray, those! They are the losers. And surely, We have created many of the jinns and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones. S. 7:178-179 Hilali-Khan

And had Allah willed, He could have made you (all) one nation, but He sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. But you shall certainly be called to account for what you used to do. S. 16:93 Hilali-Khan

'If We had so willed, We could have given every soul its guidance; but now My Word is realized -- "Assuredly I shall fill Gehenna with jinn and men all together." So now taste, for that you forgot the encounter of this your day! We indeed have forgotten you. Taste the chastisement of eternity for that you were doing!' S. 32:13-14 Arberry

But then the Quran proceeds to contradict these teachings by commanding Muhammad and his horde to fight the people for not believing in his religion:

Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden -- such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book -- until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled. The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted! They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords apart from God, and the Messiah, Mary's son -- and they were commanded to serve but One God; there is no god but He; glory be to Him, above that they associate -- desiring to extinguish with their mouths God's light; and God refuses but to perfect His light, though the unbelievers be averse. It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion, though the unbelievers be averse. S. 9:29-33 Arberry

O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end. S. 9:73 Pickthall

O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that God is with the godfearing. S. 9:123 Arberry

And according to the Muslim expositors Muhammad’s god ordered his messenger to force and compel the idolators to embrace Islam or be killed. For instance, according to Muslim expositor al-Qurtubi the injunction of Q. 2:256 that there is no compulsion in religion does not apply to the pagans on the grounds that Muhammad and his followers forced the idolators to embrace Islam:

Scholars disagree and hold various positions regarding the legal status and meaning of this ayat.

         It is said that it is ABROGATED because the Prophet FORCED the Arabs to adopt the din of Islam and fought them and was only pleased with Islam for them. Sulayman ibn Musa took the view, saying, "It is abrogated by ‘O Prophet! Do jihad against the unbelievers and the hypocrites.’ (9:73)" That is related from Ibn Mas‘ud and many commentators.

         It is not abrogated and was sent down about the people of the Book in particular and means that they are not forced to adopt Islam when they pay jizya. THOSE WHO ARE FORCED ARE THE IDOLATERS. Only Islam is accepted from them, and they are the ones about whom ‘O Prophet! Do Jihad against the unbelievers and the hypocrites.’ (9:73) was revealed. This is the position of ash-Sha‘bi, Qatada, al-Hasan and ad-Dahhak. The evidence for this position is related by Zayd ibn Aslam from his father, "I heard ‘Umar in al-Khattab say to an old Christian woman, ‘Become Muslim, old woman, become Muslim. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth.’ She replied, ‘I am an old woman and close to death.’ ‘Umar said, ‘O Allah, witness!’ and he recited, ‘There is no compulsion where the din is concerned.’"

         Abu Dawud reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that this was revealed about the Ansar. There was a woman, all of whose children had died. She made a vow that if she had a child who lived she would become a Jew. When the Banu’n-Nadir were exiled, among them were many of the children of the Ansar. They said, "We will not leave our sons!" Then Allah revealed this. One variant has, "We did what we did and we think that their din is better than what we have." When Allah brought Islam, they denied it and this was revealed. Whoever wished remained with them and whoever wished, entered Islam. This is the position of Sa‘id ibn Jubayr, ash-Sha‘bi and Mujahid, but he added that the reason that they were with the Banu’n-Nadir was through suckling. An-Nahhas said, "The position of Ibn ‘Abbas regarding this ayat is the best position since its isnad is sound."

         As-Suddi said that the ayat was revealed about a man of the Ansar called Abu Husayn who had two sons. Some merchants came from Syria to Madina with oil and when they wanted to leave, his sons went to them. They invited the two sons to become Christians and they did so and went back with them to Syria. Their father went to the Messenger of Allah to complain about this and asked the Messenger of Allah to send someone to bring them back. Then, "There is no compulsion where the din is concerned" was revealed. He had not been commanded to fight the People of the Book. He said, "Allah has put them far. They are the first to disbelieve." Abu’l-Husayn felt annoyed that the Prophet did not send someone after them. Then Allah revealed, "No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them" (4:65). Then "No compulsion" WAS ABROGATED and he was commanded to fight the People of the Book in Surat at-Tawba. The sound view for the reason behind the words, "No, by your Lord, they are not believers …" is the hadith of az-Zubayr with his Christian neighbour about water as will be dealt with in Surat at-Tawba, Allah willing.

         It is said that it means "do not call those who have submitted through the sword compelled and forced".

         It is said that it was related about the captives who were People of the Book. They are not compelled when they are adults. If they are Magians, young or old, or idolaters, they are COMPELLED to adopt Islam because their captivity does not help them when they are idolaters. Do you not see that their sacrifices are not eaten nor their women married. That is what Ibn al-Qasim reported from Malik. Ashhab said that children are considered to have the din of those who captured them. If they refuse that, they are compelled to become Muslim. Children have no din and that is why they are COMPELLED to enter Islam so that they do not go to a false din. When other types of unbelievers pay the jizya, they are forced to become Muslim, whether they are Arabs or non-Arabs, Quraysh or otherwise. This will be dealt with in Surat at-Tawba. (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi – Classical Commentary of the Holy Qur’an, translated by Aisha Bewley [Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd., 2003], pp. 659-661; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Moreover, the Islamic law, based on specific Quranic texts and ahadith,

They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of God (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks; - Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If God had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then God Hath opened no way for you (to war against them). S. 4:89-90 Y. Ali

Commands the death penalty for anyone who apostatizes or abandons Islam: http://answering-islam.org/Silas/apostasy.htm

The above data not only introduces a gross contradiction within the Muslim scripture but also, in view of the plain statements of the Quran that it is not the will of Allah for everyone to believe, demonstrates that there is a major problem with Islamic theology itself. Muhammad clearly stated in the Quran that Allah could, if he wanted to, guide everyone to faith but instead has chosen to mislead a great majority of people away from the so-called truth of Islam so that he can fill up hell. Why, then, did he order Muslims to fight the disbelievers when they cannot embrace Islam unless Allah causes them to believe? And why kill apostates when it is Allah who has turned their hearts away from Islam in the first place?

More importantly, why not simply cause all people to become Muslims and thereby prevent all of the bloodshed and violence that is committed in the name of Muhammad’s deity?

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