Is There Coercion in Islam and Christianity? Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

A silver lining from the gravely tragic event of September 11, 2001, is that a verse of the Holy Quran, “There is no coercion in religion,” has been quoted time and again, in national and international media, all over the world.

The full verse is:

There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al Quran 2:257)

But, what does this verse exactly mean?

Can a heretic be brought back to ‘true faith?’  Can an apostate and a blasphemer be killed?   Can a thief be coerced into not stealing, in future?  Can someone who delivered vigilante justice to a heretic be brought to justice?  Case in point the killer of Governor Salman Taseer, who is celebrated by many as a hero in Pakistan, is so far escaping justice, thanks to the lack of wisdom of Pakistani judiciary.  These and many other related questions are answered by understanding this and related verses of the Holy Quran.

Not only the non-Muslims do not understand this verse, the Muslims themselves have limited understanding of this profound verse.

Some of the popular scholars from 18th century or before, believed that this verse has been abrogated as a result of verses about Jihad with sword. So they saw no problem in converting people to Islam by force or killing the apostates.

Thanks to the teachings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, no Muslim now talks about abrogation in this day and age.

But, even the contemporary Muslim scholars, who are not well aware of Muslim as well as non-Muslim history alike, are not fully able to appreciate this verse.

In this article, I propose to ‘show,’ and demonstrate rather than quote from some authority and ‘tell,’ what this verse means.


Categories: ISLAM

16 replies

  1. For comments in the original posting of this article please click here

    Here is a very important quote from the Gospel of Luke:

    I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)

  2. Abu Hanifa clearly stated that there is no legal punishment for those who leave Islam. The relevant hadith were about treason as the Prophet (pbuh) stated that any muslim who leaves the community and helps the enemies against the safty of the muslim community is to be punished. [hanafi fiqh]

  3. And if thy Lord had enforced His will, surely, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers? (Al Quran 10:99/100)

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