Nearly three hundred years ago, the following comment was offered by George Sale, one of the first to translate the Qur’an into English, a self professed antagonist of the man, Muhammad, and a hater of the Islamic religion:
“I shall not here enquire into the reasons why the law of Mohammed has met with so unexampled a reception in the world, (for they are greatly deceived who imagine it to have been propagated by the sword alone), or by what means it came to be embraced by nations which never felt the force of the Mohammedan arms, and even by those which stripped the Arabians of their conquests, and put an end to the sovereignty and very being of their Khalifs: yet it seems as if there was something more than what is vulgarly imagined, in a religion which has made so surprising a progress.”
It is just such sentiments that have prompted modern scholars to cast aside the popularized claims of coercion. For how can such a claim be made when Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, “never felt the force of the” Mohammedan arms,” having assimilated the Islamic religion from nothing more than the teachings and example of a few merchants from Yemen?
Such forces of Islamic progress are witnessed to this day. Islam has grown within the borders of countries and cultures that were not the conquered, but rather the conquerors of many of the Muslim lands.
In addition, Islam continues to grow and prosper within populations that stand in expressed contempt of the religion. No difficulty should be encountered, then, in accepting the following comment:
No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam.
By the time of Muhammad’s death (632 AD) Islam controlled a great part of Arabia. Soon it triumphed in Syria, Persia, Egypt, the lower borders of present Russia and across North Africa to the gates of Spain. In the next century, its progress was even more spectacular.
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 Koran is explicit in support of freedom of conscience.
It is worth nothing that Islam does not differentiate between believers of different periods. The Islamic belief is that all messengers since Adam conveyed God’s revelation. The faithful submitted and followed, the unfaithful didn’t. Therefore, ever since Cain and Abel, mankind has been divided between the pious and impious, between good and evil.
Islam professes a consistency in creed from the time of Adam, and asserts that the tenets of faith declared at each and every stage in the chain of revelation were the same— without evolution or alteration. As the Creator has remained perfect and unchanged throughout time, so has His creed.
The Christian claim that God changed from the wrathful God of the Old Testament to the benevolent God of the New Testament is not honored by the Islamic religion, for it implies… Continue reading