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I have been doing some research in regards to how Islam was spread, which has left me confused on one point. In summary, some sources suggest that Islam has only been spread in scenarios of self defence, and other sources suggest that it was spread by the a second type of jihad (taking initiative in fighting). One of the sources is a Facebook post by Dr. Zakir Naik which, in summary, refers to

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error.”
Al-Qur’an 2:256

It speaks about how many non-believers have existed and lived in regions that are conquered by Muslims in peace without threat, but it does not specify how these countries came under the rule of Muslims to begin with.

Other sources, such as “Was Islam spread by the sword?” on Islam Question and Answer, speak about taking the initiative in fighting and list ahadeeth and ayat such as these:

“And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten the enemy of Allaah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allaah does know.”
al-Anfaal 8:60

This one is not a hadeeth; rather, it is a reference:

In al-Saheehayn it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I have been supported with fear as far as a month’s journey.” Would the kuffaar be afraid of being told, “become Muslim, but if you do not then you are free to believe and do whatever you want”? or were they afraid of jihad and the imposition of the jizyah and being humiliated? That may make them enter Islam so that they may be spared this humiliation.

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (12/14):

Islam spread by means of proof and evidence to those who listened to the message and responded to it, and it spread by means of force and the sword to those who were stubborn and arrogant, until they were overwhelmed and became no longer stubborn, and submitted to that reality.

My main question consists of several points (sub questions):

  1. Are there actually two types of jihad as stated in the second link above, where one is in self defence and the other is in taking the initiative in fighting? If so, please give references.

  2. If Islam has spread by waging war, is it expected that subjugated people truly believe in Islam, or that they submit do out of fear (as is the case with crusade wars). These people saw Muslims as attackers, and fought Muslims to defend their regions. Can they now understand the meanings of Islam?

  3. I understand that most likely this question can only be answered by reading books of interpretation and history. Please suggest an approved source

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Assalamu alaikum To start off with, (and this answers your first subquestion), jihad in arabic refers to a holy struggle. This means any form of struggle, pain, suffering etc for the sake of Allah, or even Islam. Jihad could even mean fighting against your own desires for the sake of Allah, not necessary running around killing people and saying "Allahu Akbar". Islam comes from the root word salaam in arabic, which literally means peace. Most of the holy wars in the past, especially in the prophet's pbuh time and the times of the caliphates were declared only with Allah's permission or in self defence.

This was not always how Islam was spread. As a matter of fact, a majority were reverted to islam during the caliphate of Umar bin Al Khattab ra, and this was mainly due to his modesty and good mannerism. He used to live in a mud hut fir heavens sake and from that alone caused a Roman to revert to islam (just an example)

I know i havent probably answered your question entirely but i hope this does help a little, In Sha Allah

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Well i will suggest you read the life of Prophet Muhammad SAW. You will find all the answers there. For the time being i will give you some explanation here.

When Prophet SAW declared him the Messanger of Allah and told them there is no God except Allah, how many muslims were there. Answer is No one. Then came Abu Bakr , Khadija, Ali, Zaid R.A. How did they embress Islam. By sword or Jihad or by a simple preach.

They Prophet SAW kept preaching of Islam for 13 years. All those having pure heart, embressed Islam. And the number was around 114. Others, after having seen the 40 years of Sadaqat (Truthfullness) and Amanat (Trustworth) and during these 13 years, having seen the petience, still refused to embress Islam. Why this happen? Let see in two ways.

Many were refusing due to loosing their pride and leadership and due to enemity. Others (including many tribes) were under impression that Quresh leaders are on the right path because they are related to Baitullah (in Urdu they are Sardar)

After this Allah SWT order them to migrate to Habsha and Madina. After the migration Jihad started. The purpose of Jihad is very clear which is in this ayat defined 10, Anfal , verse 36.

And fight them until there is no fitnah and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah . And if they cease - then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do.

What is fitna? Many authentic Tafaseer (sorry to say i could not reference for the time being) say it means the power disbelievers have. And they use it to force people to leave Islam and make confusion among them. So Allah SAW says fight them till they loose control and do not have any power and wealth left. Read this too. Alanfal , 36

Indeed, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to avert [people] from the way of Allah . So they will spend it; then it will be for them a [source of] regret; then they will be overcome. And those who have disbelieved - unto Hell they will be gathered.

Doing all this is to snatch power so that all the disbelievers have a chance to understand because they think those who are in power and do not have faith on Allah SAW are on the right path. These (powerfull disbelievers) are obstacles, and removing them will open minds of all people and they will be free to see and observe Islam closely. Then they will have two options. Lead a life under islamic rule, or become muslim. There is no third option. If he is disbeliever and do not accept islamic rule he will be eliminated.

So Basic purpose of Jihad is to remove obstacles from the preach of Islam. This has happened in the whole history and due to this fact many tribes on a single day embressed Islam. It was day Makkah Mukerrama was conquered. As people were already waiting to see what the fight between Prophet SAW and Powerfull disbelievers brings. Who wins? Who is the one Allah SWT helps? And they found Prophet Muhammad SAW is on right path.

This is some consice explanation how islam spread. Still there are some more points i would like to share.

What Islam wants from muslims?

  1. Preach Islam so that everybody can avail hapiness of this world and coming life.
  2. If some refuse to embress Islam, do not kill them just seize the power by doing Jihad (against the people who come to fight not against public) and rule by the orders of Allah SWT
  3. If some refuse to obey the rule of Islam fight and eliminate them which is Jihad.

Allah SWT wants muslims to implement the rule of Quran on the earth of Allah SWT and do not let disbelievers rule and disobey Allah SWT. Make them lead a life under Islamic rule. See here. 11 Al-Toba, 29

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

All the above explanation is of venture Jihad which has 3 rules i explained above. Defensive Jihad is different.

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Salam Brother and all people reading this post. Yeah there are mainly two types of Jihad.

  1. Defensive like "The War of Baddar" Or "The war of Uhad". In this type of wars, kuffar attacked Muslims and Muslims just defended themselves, not initiated the war. Many wars of Muslim era are of this kind.
  2. Initiative war like "The war of tabook" or "The attack on Persia". Many wars of this kind ended without any war and Muslims got fattah without fighting which proves that these wars were for reformation of society not for killing people.

Now I would like to prove that Islam is not spread through war.

I am giving a mathematical proof for that, so read and understand.

Total 18 wars took place in presence of Hazrat Muhammad(SAW) which are called as Ghazawa. Muslims won 10 wars without fighting and in 8 wars fighting took place.

In these 8 wars just 1018 people were killed. Out of these 1018, 759 were non-muslims (mushrikeen) and 259 were Muslims.

Out of the 759 non-muslims, 450 were those Jews who had broken the promise which was owed between Muslims and Jews of Madina. According to this promise, Muslims and Jews would support each other and not wage war among them and when any other 3rd party would attack on Muslims or Jews of Madina, both Muslims and Jews would fight against them. But when the non-muslims of makka(mushrikeen) attacked the Muslims, the Jews supported the attackers against Muslims. As a result of breaking the promise, according to the rules of that time, the Jews were sentenced to death(only the young men.)

So only 309 non-muslims are killed in these wars and 259 muslims are martyred in these wars. So can anybody say that a religion of over 1.6 billion followers spread through killing just 309 people. Another thing the ratio of killed Muslims and non-muslims is as following:

Muslims:Non-muslims

1 : 1.19

It is a general rule that for spreading a concept the ratio between the killer(one who spreads his concept) and being killed(whom is desired to follow the concept) must be at least 1:10. So can a ratio of 1:1 spread a religion.

As long as your third question is concerned, I don't know about an online authentic book about Islamic history.

(All the statistics were copied from Prof. Ashfaq Bhutta)

  • cool, where did you get these statistics from , to the point accurate numbers.???? – servant-of-Wiser May 1 '15 at 14:40
  • many thanks, can you please state initiative war examples, you have stated tabook can you please state more? – Aboudi May 1 '15 at 17:04
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    @servant-of-Wiser My brother these statistics are from books of history, I have mentioned one above. My teacher had a great research on this and I as his student have recorded these and upto a point I have tried to confirm. If there is any mistake, please inform me. It is not just heard and trusted thing rather researched, heard then tested thing, though. No human is complete. – Rehan Ullah May 2 '15 at 13:59
  • @aboudi according to your question you want to know about wars initiated by Muhammad(SAW). My brother, Muhammad rarely initiated wars therefore there is a small count e.g. War of Khyber(Ghazwa-e-khyber), conquer of Makkah. But if you look at time after Muhammad(SAW), you will find wars like attack on persia, attack on Jerusalem and more. Especially those were fought in era of Hazrat Umar(RA) – Rehan Ullah May 2 '15 at 15:28
  • jazak allah kheir! I shall look into the cause of these wars im sure that will answer the rest of my questions and clarify a lot! – Aboudi May 2 '15 at 16:44

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