I am writing an essay in which I have to tackle a very hard question which is "Why did Holy Prophet (PBUH) destroy the idols upon conquest of Mecca. Isn't this a form of religious intolerance and goes in direct contradiction of the verse "There should be no compulsion in religion."

Now I came up with the answer to justify the need of disappearance of idols. That is, the Holy Kaaba has been the place of Allah since the era of Abraham. Thus this signifies that if pagans were to bring idols in the Kaaba, they would be being religiously disrespectful. This is the same as performing Muslim prayers in Churches which would obviously be offensive to the Christians.

However, the disappearance can be done in two ways. Removal and destruction where the former seems to be tolerant. Can anybody provide me the reason for destroying the idols which is based primarily on logic?

It appears that many people have taken my question in the wrong direction. What I meant to ask is why did Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) seemed it necessary to destroy the idols when the removal (ask the non-believers to take their idols away) seems to be a valid option?

  • 1
    This site is not for preaching.
    – G. Bach
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 19:13
  • @G.Bach I am aware of that however, I was hoping that Islamic scholars around here may be aware of some ideology that may not be in my perception Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 19:28
  • Maybe you could do some honest research first? Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 19:43
  • Yes, I did. I was able to find reasons relating to why were they were destroyed. However, all of them had Islamic significance which surely is important to us. However, now all I need to tackle the question is to answer why did destruction carry more significance than removal. Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 20:10
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    You can't take a verse out of context and say hey here the Propeht pbuh is contradicting the revelation. Surat at-Tawba (9) includes many evidences supporting what the prophet actually did. Ask yourself would you take Islam seriously as a religion preaching the oneness of God or pray towards the Ka'aba knowing that there are idols inside it?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 10:25

3 Answers 3


لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ (No compulsion in religion) applies to those from whom Jizyah is accepted: the People of the Book and foreign religions.

It does not apply to the people to whom a Prophet is directly sent to. The Quran recounts of several nations who were utterly destroyed for rejecting Allah's Messengers and signs. The disbelievers in Noah's time weren't expelled and told to take their idols with them ... they were drowned in a flood which wiped every trace of them.

As for the Arab polytheists: a Messenger walked in their midst, the Quran was sent in their language and miracles were shown to them, angels fought in battles against them ... they had no choice to reject, nor did the Prophet accept anything from them less than Islam (Refer to books of Seerah e.g Ibn Kathir) .

وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّىٰ لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِ ۚ فَإِنِ انتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

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.

Quran 8:39

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ ۚ فَإِن تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Quran 9:5

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ امرت ان اقاتل الناس حتى يقولوا لا اله الا الله‏.‏ فمن قال لا اله الا الله، فقد عصم مني نفسه وماله، الا بحقه، وحسابه على الله

Allah 's Messenger said, " I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah."

Saheeh Bukhari 2946

Regarding what ruling applies in Islam to idolatrous subjects of the Islamic state, after the death of the Prophet, there are three views: The view of the Malikis is that they will become Dhimmis and Jizyah will be accepted from them. The view of the Hanafis is that non-arabs will be become Dhimmis and Jizyah will be accepted from them. The view of the Shafis is that Jizyah will not be accepted from idolators and only from People of the Book and Zorastrians.

قال الشافعي رحمه الله : لا تقبل الجزية إلا من أهل الكتاب خاصة عربا كانوا أو عجما لهذه الآية ، فإنهم هم الذين خصوا بالذكر فتوجه الحكم إليهم دون من سواهم لقوله عز وجل : فاقتلوا المشركين حيث وجدتموهم . ولم يقل : حتى يعطوا الجزية كما قال في أهل الكتاب . وقال : وتقبل من المجوس بالسنة ؛ وبه قال أحمد وأبو ثور

Imam Shafi said: Jizyah will not be accepted except from the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) be they Arab or non-arab. The evidence is this verse because these have been specifically separately mentioned. Hence it will only apply to them and not to others since Allah says فاقتلوا المشركين حيث وجدتموهم ("Kill the mushriqeen wherever you find them") (9:5) and did not mention حتى يعطوا الجزية (till they pay Jizyah), as he mentioned about the people of the book. And Shafi said further that Jizyah will be accepted from the Zoroastrians since it is proven from the Sunnah. Similar was said by Imam Ahmad and Abu Thawr ...

Tafsir Qurtubi

وذهب مالك والأوزاعي : إلى أنها تؤخذ من جميع الكفار إلا المرتد

Malik and Awzai's saying that it will be accepted from all disbelievers, except apostates

وقال أبو حنيفة : تؤخذ من أهل الكتاب على العموم ، وتؤخذ من مشركي العجم ، ولا تؤخذ من مشركي العرب

Abu Hanifa's saying is that it will be accepted from the Ahle Kitab, both arab and otherwise, and from the non-arab mushriqeen, but will not be accepted from arab mushriqeen.

Tafsir Baghawi

وتوضع الجزية على أهل الكتاب والمجوس ... وعبدة الأوثان من العجم ... ولا توضع على عبدة الأوثان من العرب ولا المرتدين

[Hanafi view] Jizyah will be accepted from the people of the book and the magians ... and the worshippers of idols from the non-arabs ... it will not be accepted from the idol worshipping arabs nor apostates

Al-Hidayah Fi Sharh Bidayat al-Mubtadi (English Translation)

When they pay Jizyah and are Dhimmis they are legally protected, are allowed to continue on their religion and their places of worship and idols are not permitted to be destroyed.

  • Isn’t the same answer as I gave?
    – Alex A
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 22:17
  • you used 8:39 to prove fighting arab polytheists because they are arab polytheists is prescribed but Ibn rushd cites it in distinguished jurist’s primer and says the jurists agree , because of 8:39 all of the polytheists are to be fought, which is the correct understanding ? Thx
    – Hisham
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 17:00

My question from you is can you tell me what There's no compulsion in religion has to do with destroying or not destroying the idols?

The verse means what it says, no compulsion in religion. You cannot force a non-muslim to be a Muslim, that's all this verse is saying.

What does this have to do with the Prophet (PBUH) destroying the idols or not? he still isn't forcing non-muslims to be Muslims.

I can't find any link whatsoever of this Quranic verse with the destruction of idols at the conquest of Makkah :/


When we speak about religion, we refer to a religion in which people pray to God and those religions are three: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We can be tolerant with all other kinds of worshipers whatever they worship or whoever they worship as long as they don’t interfere with our religion or places of prayer.

For example, do you think a Christian priest would accept a Buddha worshiper to bring a Buddha statue into the Church?

Or, do you think the Imam would accept a Buddha statue into the Mosque?

Or, let’s ask, vice versa.. do you think a Buddhist would accept a Christian cross or Quran into their place of worship? I don’t think so, in non of the cases. So that is the case of Kaaba where the pagans put their statues; that was a Muslim place.

And plus, Makkah was build by prophet named Abraham for God and it was birth place of prophet Muhammad, and God ordered prophet Muhammad to clean Makkah by removing idols and pagan things.

And the main reason is, that it is a holy place of God being build by Abraham, and God ordered prophet Muhammad to destroy them all so that people would not worship anyone besides Him and to not compare with Him at all, and He Made it to be obligatory to destroy them instead to remove them.

  • This is the argument I provided. My question is why destruction was necessary where removal was an option? Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 22:37

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