Islam's normative injunctions are all designed to foster freedom and justice and to promote a just social order. Its moral universe is informed by the Living Presence of Allah (swt), to whom people are responsible individually and collectively as a group- sect, religion, tribe, clan, nation, community, etc. - and are bound to account for their acts and omissions on the Day of Judgement. Several verses in the Qur'an affirms the inherent freedom of choice in people: "Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. So can you (Prophet) compel people to believe? It is not for a soul to believe , save by God's Leave" (10: 99-100). 'Say, Now the truth has come from you Lord: let those who wish to believe in it do so, and let those those who wish to reject it do so' (18: 30).
Life in Arabia during the Holy Prophet's time also produced within its varied contingencies complex questions of freedom of choice in faith matters. Some of the Muslim parents had a dilemma: whether to force their children to join the then nascent Muslim community; or to respect the children's choice of joining their foster- parents' clan (Jewish tribe- Banu Nadir that was leaving from Madinah and some also wishing to join Christian merchants going to Syria). It might seem astonishing to some; but the Qur'anic verse-"There is no compulsion in religion" (2: 257) was originally revealed to ensure the freedom of choice of the people who wished to leave Islam against the wishes of their Muslim families!
Even as Islam commands freedom of conscience and respects the right of people to make choices, it also allows resistance to oppression and injustice and to wage wars in self-defence in compelling political circumstances. What is not required or unjustified in general conditions of life, may gain validity of law and practice in exceptional circumstances. Necessity, proportionality, fairness and even-handed dealings are central to Islamic ethics, and the 'text' of moral injunctions need to be seen in the 'context' of the evolving circumstances of the Muslim life. Muslim Ulema who celebrate the 'cult of sword' in the name of Jihad/preaching of Islam are grossly misguided in reading the text without knowing its context. Their ill-considered views are detrimental to the fair name and legacy of Islam as a religion that appeals to human conscience and secular reasoning in equal measure. In his first Friday Sermon of the New Year- on 5th January 2018, Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) expounds profoundly on freedom of choice from a Qur'anic perspective and corrects the doctrinal mistakes of the Muslim Ulema on this vital question.
Read the Friday Sermon Below:
No Compulsion in Religion
Laaa Ikraaha fid deeni qat tabiyanar rushdu minal ghayy; famai yakfur bit Taaghuuti wa yu’mim billaahi faqadis tamsaka bil’urwatil wusqaa lan fisaama lahaa; wallaahu Samii’un ʻAliim.
There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever rejects false deities (and/ or evil) and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al-Baqara, 2: 257).
The majority of Mullahs from the other Muslim sects since years have wrongfully affirmed that in the time of the Mahdi people would be forced to accept Islam. God, the Exalted, says: There shall be no compulsion in matters of faith.
At one time Christians forced people to accept Christianity - But Islam has from the outset been opposed to the use of force. Force is used by those who have no heavenly signs. No prophet has performed so many miracles as did our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The miracles of the previous prophets died with them but the miracles of our Prophet (pbuh) continue to be manifested even today and will continue to be manifested till the end of time. Whatever is manifested in my support are the miracles of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Are there any advocates of other faiths who can show similar signs? Indeed not; however much they might try they cannot show a single sign. For their gods are artificial; they do not follow the True God. Islam is an ocean of miracles; it has never used force. It has no need to use force.
That Islam permits any kind of compulsion in the matter of religion is therefore false. A careful study of the Holy Quran, Hadiths and history, would establish beyond a doubt that this charge against Islam is utterly unfounded, and has been preferred by those who, casting aside all evidence, have based themselves only on prejudice and bigotry. The time is, however, drawing near when seekers after truth will be convinced of the baselessness of such charges.
How can such a charge be levelled against a faith the scripture of which so clearly and unequivocally directs: There shall be no compulsion in religion? Can anyone charge that great Prophet with compulsion who during thirteen years of bitter and unrelenting persecution in Mecca continuously and consistently admonished his followers to be steadfast and not to oppose persecution with force?
At last, when the evil of the enemy exceeded all bounds and all tribes combined to destroy Islam by force, divine indignation ordained that those who had taken up the sword should perish by the sword, those who come forward to kill the Muslim should be killed instead. Had Islam permitted the use of force for its propagation, then the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) having been converted to Islam, as falsely alleged, by force, would not in times of trials have proved the sincerity of their faith by offering up their lives like true and sincere believers, which they were. This is a fact so well established as to need no further affirmation. They attested their faith with such steadfastness as would be difficult to match in the annals of any other people. They behaved under the shadow of swords with such perseverance and fortitude as can only be generated by the light of faith.
No true Muslim ever held the belief that Islam should be spread by the sword. Islam has always been spread through inherent excellences. Those who believe that Islam should be spread by the sword, are obviously not convinced of its inherent merits and their attitude is that of wild beasts.
It is sheer ignorance on the part of some of the so-called divines to assert that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) took up the sword to convert people to Islam by force. The same applies to some Christian missionaries who adhere to that view. There can be no greater injustice and falsehood than to charge a faith with such calumny whose foremost direction is: There shall be no compulsion in religion.
The wars of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions were waged to defend themselves against the aggression of their enemies, or to establish peace by repelling those by the sword who employed the sword to keep people from believing.
The Quran affirms repeatedly that there can be no compulsion in religion and makes it clear that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did not fight to force people to become Muslims. He fought either by way of retribution against those who had killed a large number of Muslims and had expelled some of them from their homes most wrongfully as set out in the Holy Quran: Permission to fight is granted to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged, and Allah indeed has the power to help them. (Al-Hajj 22: 40); or by way of defence against open aggression, or to establish freedom of conscience where force was used against people to keep them from believing.
So today's Mullahs read this verse of the Holy Quran and affirm that there is no compulsion in religion, yet unfortunately they do the contrary of what they recognise as the truth and insist that their version of the Mahdi will appear with the sword and will not be satisfied with anything short of the non-Muslims professing Islam.
There is no compulsion in religion. Guidance and error have been clearly distinguished. So there is no need for compulsion. It is a pity that despite such a clear exposition in the Quran that no compulsion is permissible in religion, those whose hearts are pervaded with enmity and rancour persist in charging the word of God with permitting compulsion.
There must be freedom of religion. Allah, the Exalted, has said: There shall be no compulsion in religion. There is no such directive in the Bible. What led to fighting? If the basic directive was fighting then the thirteen years of the ministry of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at Mecca would have been in vain, for he did not use the sword at once. The truth, however, is that fighting was permitted because of wrongs and oppression. The directive was not: The time of the sword has come, now convert people to Islam by the sword. The directive was: You have endured wrong, now oppose the sword with the sword. Every system of law permits self-defence to a wronged one.
17 Years of the Divine Manifestation
May Allah (swt) bless all of you to understand this first and very important Friday Sermon of the year 2018, which marks also seventeen years since our expulsion from the Nizam-e-Jamaat Ahmadiyya, and it was on the 5th January 2001 itself, in the Friday Sermons around the small island of Mauritius that those at the head of the Jamaat (Ahmadiyya Muslim Association) in Mauritius ate our flesh with appetite, disregarding the very essence of the teachings of Islam. What did we do? We forebear and preached throughout these years the right teachings of Islam, inviting them to reform themselves to reflect the true Islam. Seventeen years have gone by and shall not return back.
By the grace of Allah, as promised by Allah to this humble servant and caliph of Allah, the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam is spreading around the world and those who plotted to extinguish the light of Allah shall perish by their own breath (or any device or means they use) except those who repent and reform. May Allah bless all my sincere disciples worldwide, those who through thick and thin have always lend a helping hand to Allah and His Messenger and sacrifice their all for the cause and pleasure of Allah. May Allah reward you all handsomely in this life and the life to come and make us march from success to success with humility, sincerity, honestly and true faith - such faith which can move mountains - to conquer our greatest treasure: Allah and His exquisite love for us all. Insha-Allah, Ameen.
---Friday Sermon of 05 January 2018 (17 Rabi’ul Aakhir 1439 AH) by Hadhrat Muhyi-Ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.