The Role of the Sword in the Spread of Islam

The Role of the Sword in the Spread of Islam

درجة الحُسام مِن اشاعة الاسلام

[The following treatise is a foreword authored by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi to the book written by Mawlana Habib al-Rahman Sahib Deobandi titled Dunya me Islam Kyunkar Pheylā— “How did Islam spread throughout the World.”]. In it, Mawlana Thanwi responds to the common objection that Islam was spread by the sword and indiscriminate killing.]

After praising Allah and sending blessings upon His noble Messenger, some opponents of Islam raise objections, claiming that Islam was spread by the sword. However, it is important to note that the sacred law and juristic principles of Islam itself make it clear that:

1.) Even in battle, the indiscriminate killing of women, disabled people, the elderly, and the blind is prohibited, even if they choose to remain upon disbelief.

2.) The jizya was sanctioned by the sacred law [allowing non-Muslims to remain upon their faith], proving that if conversion by sword was the only way, then jizya would not even be an option.

3.) Moreover, the jizya is not imposed on every non-believer, as it is not applicable to women, the disabled, the blind, or monks. This implies that jizya is not a penalty for disbelief; otherwise, it would have been mandatory for everyone who chooses to remain committed to their religion. Also, since jizya is a lesser punishment than the sword, and it is not the penalty for disbelief, then how can the sword, which is considered more severe than jizya, be a punishment for disbelief?

4.) According to Islamic jurisprudence, it is permissible to enter into a peace treaty with non-believers, even without the condition of demanding monetary settlement, if it is deemed beneficial for the Muslims.

5.) On the contrary, if the circumstances demand, it is even permissible to offer a monetary settlement to non-believers in order to establish a peace treaty. From these scenarios, it is evident that jizya is not a penalty for disbelief, as in scenario #3. It is also evident that jizya is not an objective in itself, otherwise, making treaties without demanding wealth or making a treaty by giving wealth would not have been permissible.

Therefore, it is important to note that since neither the sword nor the jizya is a penalty for disbelief, nor are they objectives in and of themselves, as has been understood from the points mentioned above, this raises the question of why they were utilized in the past. According to scholars of the ummah, and as mentioned in books of jurisprudence like the Hidaya, there must have been some other wisdom or motivation behind their use.

[After a thorough study of these books, it becomes clear] that the purpose of the sword was to elevate the status and honor of Islam by removing corruption and opposition and the purpose of the jizya was to ensure that those who lived under Islamic rule were protected through the lives and wealth of the Islamic governance. It is expected that those who receive the protection of Islamic governance should also give back by serving in the military. However, they are exempt from this obligation by law. Therefore, it becomes necessary for them to make a monetary contribution in lieu of physical service to ensure the guarantee of their protection.

Now that you have understood the objectives of the sword and jizya know that the demand for the sword is no longer necessary if there is no fear of potential harm from the enemies of the religion.

Back to blog