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Islamic Expansions

People often wonder about the advantage that Islam has over the rest of the religions exist among all nations.

We can get the answer once we know the purpose for which the religion of Islam came to establish.

Islam came to establish justice on earth.

It is the religion that all the prophets of God brought to all nations; the correct religion that most followers deviated from by sanctifying their prophets and the righteous among them, which led to the emergence of many religions.

But what justice?

Justice that puts things right, and gives everyone his right.

  • Giving the Creator (the Power in heavens) His right by worshiping Him alone, bearing witness that He is the One, Who has no partner, nor a child, and acknowledging that the Creator is beyond having a child, and is beyond incarnating in the form of a human, animal, or idol.
  • Giving humans their right to communicate with their Creator directly without a priest nor saint nor any other  mediator, and to refuge when needed and in adversity directly to the Creator, not to any prophet, including the Prophet of God Muhammad.
  • Establishing equality among humans and helping humanity to get rid of abhorrent racial intolerance. There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab except for piety.
  • Providing freedom of choice, to allow people to choose their own religion and to practice its rituals freely.
  • Ending oppression and injustice on Earth.

What caught my attention was a phrase by the Italian writer Laura Veccia Valerie in which she says:

It is sufficient that wars, which are the utmost necessities of human life, have become, thanks to Muhammad, less brutal and cruel, as he used to ask his soldiers not to kill an old man, a woman, or a child, nor to demolish homes that were not taken as military strongholds, nor to destroy the means of life, and do not touch the fruit of trees and palms.

I was amazed at the truth that this writer acknowledges in her speech about the reality of wars, which was a necessity of life, according to her.

It seems that war intertwined human civilizations to this moment. Therefore, since human civilization has witnessed many wars, both local and international, day by day tried to make it less brutal and barbaric.

History and scriptures tell us as well that the prophets of God, Moses, David and others fought their enemies.

I remembered at that time the story of the Peophet companion “Jaafar bin Abi Talib” when he described the condition of the Arabs before Islam.

Where he said to the Negus, King of Abyssinia:

O King! we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols, we lived in unchastity, we ate the dead bodies, and we spoke abominations, we disregarded every feeling of humanity, and the duties of hospitality and neighborhood were neglected; we knew no law but that of the strong, when Allah (God) raised among us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware; and he called to the Oneness of Allah ,and taught us not to associate anything with Him.

He forbade us the worship idols; and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard the rights of the neighbors and kith and kin; he forbade us to speak evil of women, or to eat the substance of orphans; he ordered us to flee from the vices, and to abstain from evil; to offer prayers, to render alms, and to observe fast.

We have believed in him, we have accepted his teachings and his injunctions to worship Allah, and not to associate anything with Him, and we have allowed what He has allowed, and prohibited what He has prohibited.

For this reason, our people have risen against us, have persecuted us in order to make us forsake the worship of Allah (the Creator) and return to the worship of idols and other abominations. They have tortured and injured us, until finding no safety among them; we have come to your country, and hope you will protect us from oppression. 

We understand here that the Arabian Peninsula was without security, laws, system, courts, and without rights.

They were lunching wars continuasly over trivial matters, as happened in the Al-Basous War, for example. The Basus War was a 40-year war between two cousin tribes in Arabia of Late Antiquity which was started by the killing of a camel.

On the other hand, the international arena at that time – so to speak – was known to deal with religious minorities with excessive opportunism, as the Nestorians emigrated fleeing from the persecution of the Byzantines, and sought refuge in the Persian kingdom.

People under Roman persecution were deprived of the most basic rights, which is the religious freedom.

Based on these and other facts, it was not possible for Muslims under the Roman Empire to worship freely. “Farwa al-Jadamy” was crucified because of his conversion to Islam.

It was clear that the Roman state would not tolerate Islam as a religion. This was the case in Egypt and elsewhere, where people were oppressed and acquiesced under exclusion.

It is recognized that the concept of sovereignty did not know stability in its present form at that time, so the expansion in other lands was not a defect on the scale of the Middle Ages.

Therefore, in the case of the Islamic conquests it was an inevitable solution, if they wanted to secure freedom of worship for Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula or abroad, and also if they wanted to call to Islam freely and without obstacles.

International relations at the time of the Prophet’s mission could not bear the emergence of a third power that came from the Arabian Peninsula, and there were several narrations of Heraclius’ fear of the Muslims.

All this made the Persians and the Romans motivated to attack the Muslims, for Khosrow sent two men to fetch the Prophet, may God grant him peace, and bind the companion whom the Prophet sent with his message to Khosrow, in addition to Khosrau tearing up that message, and the Ghassani governor in Syria killing the Messenger of God’s Messenger.

This was beyond any doubt as a declaration of war, which led to the battle of Mu’tah, then rumors began to invade the city, preparing the Ghassanids to attack it, and that was through measures taken by the hypocrites and “Abu Amer”, the monk residing with Caesar of Rome at that time.

Therefore, fighting was the only option for Muslims.

Justice Establishment:

The relationship between religion and the state in the Middle Ages (476-1453AD) was a relationship of interests, in which the politician took advantage of the cleric, and obtained from him the legitimacy of his role, while the cleric benefited from the politician, licensing his religious authority and domination over the hearts of his followers, and guarantees the continuity of his religious institution through gifts and funds.

With the advent of Islam, Islam dismantled this relationship, giving more space to thought and logic, relying on the principles of religious freedom, and providing evidence in defining the role of religion in public life, especially in its political aspect.

For example:

In a famous decree, “Abu Bakr al-Siddiq” , the first Caliph, told his military commander:

Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for guidance on the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies; do not kill a woman, a child, or an aged man; do not cut down fruitful trees; do not destroy inhabited areas; do not slaughter any of the enemies’ sheep, cow or camel except for food; do not burn date palms, nor inundate them; do not embezzle (e.g. no misappropriation of booty or spoils of war) nor be guilty of cowardliness. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.

Faithful Testimony:

Before the Geneva Conventions were codified more than a thousand years ago, most of the basic points of protection they provide were already existed in Islamic teachings.

In fact, many of the restrictions imposed by Islamic law on combatants are greater than what is required under international humanitarian law, especially in the arena of non-international armed conflict.

When Human Rights Watch organized meetings with civil society leaders in the Muslim world to discuss the protection of civilians, they said:

We have not encountered arguments claiming that Islamic law follows different standards.

As Joe Stork, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at the organization said:

In fact, people were asserting the congruence between international humanitarian law and Islamic law, and perhaps they were exaggerating this congruence.

Religious Pluralism Implementation:

When the Europeans entered the continents of America and Australia, they destroyed the Native Americans and the Australian aborigines,
While when Muslims entered Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, not a single soldier entered with them, but they spread Islam with their morals.

British historian “Arnold Toynbee”

Someone once told me:

The wars in Islam were to force non-Muslims to embrace Islam.

I told him:

Who forced the Tatars to convert to Islam, while they were the victors in the battle?

Does the victor embrace the religion of the vanquished?

Did the Copts of Egypt not welcome the Muslims and consider them liberators from the persecution of the Roman’s and helped them to get rid of this persecution?

Who restored to the Coptic Patriarch in Egypt his churches and lifted the injustice was imposed on him by returning him to his work, when he was persecuted by the Romans?

Isn’t the companion “Amr ibn al-Aas” who recognized by this noble act the freedom of religion that he learned from the Messenger of God Muhammad?

The questioner said:

But the Muslims have imposed the tax (Jizya) on the Copts.

I told him:

If they imposed the jizya on the Coptic warrior only but not on his family members, in exchange for protection and exemption from waging wars with them, it was a very small amount in reality and compared to the amount of jizya (poll tax) they were paying on behalf of all family members and exorbitant sums to the Roman state.

In fact, the Jizia is similar to the tax approved by international law today in return for providing services and protection from the state to its citizens.

Dutch historian Reinhardt Dozy said in his book “Looks on the History of Islam”:

The majority of Christians in the East belonged to various sects, which had been subjected to persecution and assistance from the Constantinople government, which exhausted its followers. When Islam came – and because of its tolerance and brotherhood – gave them complete freedom to remain on their religion, and shaded them with its protection, and equalized them in rights of different sects, and since they were obliged to pay heavy taxes to the Roman Emperor, Islam exempted them from it, and imposed on them only a tribute, moderate, don’t tire anyone.

I told him:

Didn’t Calif Omar Ibn Al-Khattab after his complete control over the city of Jerusalem refuse to pray in the Church of Sepulcher, so that Muslims would not think that it is a permission to convert the church into a mosque?

Is not the key of this church in the custody of a Muslim family to this day?

A member of this family says:

My family has been honored with this sacred mission, since 1187, when the Conqueror, Salah al-Din, after liberating Jerusalem from the hands of the Crusaders, followed in the footsteps of Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, who wrote with his hand the assurance of safety to the people of Aelia (known as al-ʿUhda al-ʿUmariyya‎). A covenant that shows the tolerance of the Islamic religion, which gave the Christians a covenant that guarantees practicing their religious rituals in Jerusalem.

The questioner said:

Isn’t what the Muslims did to replace colonialism with another?

I told him:

The rule of the Islamic state at that time was not colonialism, as the Muslim conquerors group turned into a group guarantor of the the Jews and Christians’ rights, meaning that the ideal situation required Muslims to monitor and protect the Jews and Christians, along with granting them full citizenship in its contemporary sense.

This, on the scale of the Middle Ages, is a very significant advance.

The non-Arab nations that empraced the religion of Islam still celebrate the holidays of Muslims because of their strong adherence to the religion of Islam.

As for the nations that were succumbed to colonialism, they made the decolonization day a national holiday (the holidays of evacuation and independence in Arabic countries, the islamic world and others).

We must understand that colonialism, is an economic and strategic exploitation for the benefit of the colonial state.

That is why we see the colonial countries rose at the expense of the colonies.

So, there is a vast difference between the conditions of the two parties after the end of the colonial era.

For example, (France Algeria, for example, Egypt and Britain, India and Britain…and so on).

As for Muslims, the basis of their conquest is the inclusion of others into their world (sharing same rights and obligations), with disparities in the application that is tainted by human defects, which in later eras took sometimes a political character due to human weakness.

It is worth noting here the importance of differentiating between the ideal religion of Islam and the non-ideal Muslims.

Thus, the religion of Islam is the first to acknowledge and implement the religious pluralism that the whole world calls for today.

But no pluralism in the absulute truth, which states:

The true religion is one religion, which is to believe in the Creator, who has no partner or child. The Creator does not incarnate in the form of a human or animal, or an idol. Humans have to worship Him alone, not through a priest or saint.

God said about the true religion in Surah al Baqara 285:

The Messenger believes, and so do the believers, in the guidance sent down upon him from his Lord: each of them believes in God, and in His angels, and in His Books, and in His Messengers. They say: “We make no distinction between any of His Messengers.

Islam is based on accepting all God’s prophets and messengers.

God said in Surah al Baqara 136:

Say, [O believers], “We have believed in God and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.

Reality’s Testimony:

Andalusian (Sephardic) Jews considered their right to live in the Ottoman Empire after their expulsion from Andalusia in 1492, as a real gain that gave them life and the opportunity to preserve their religious values, and provided the opportunity for Andalusian traditions and culture to be transmitted to Turkish lands.

Maurice Levy, member of the Council of Endowment Associations and representative of the endowment institutions for religious minorities in the Republic of Turkey, said:

Spain exiled the Jews in 1492 to the Ottoman Empire, which granted them the right to live on its lands.

Levy added, to Anatolia, on the occasion of the 527th anniversary of the exile of Jews from Andalusia to the Ottoman lands:

The Ottomans’ granting of the Jews the right to live on their lands constituted an important opportunity for the Mousavians through which they were able to preserve their religious values.

Levy pointed out that the Jews faced great difficulties that threatened their lives and existence during the Christian expansion towards Andalusia in the Middle Ages, and that their stay in Spain during that era would have exposed them to death or forced them to change their religion.

Added:

The Jews lived safely in Andalusia for several centuries under the Umayyad state, until the fall of Andalusia into the hands of the Spaniards and their extermination campaigns that pushed them to flee to the Ottoman Empire, whose pillars were built according to the Islamic civilizational perspective.

He continued:

Jews were open to work in light of cultural diversity, mastered different professions, coexisted well with Christians and Muslims, as well as cooperated with craftsmen, soldiers, artists and farmers, all of this gained them importance within the society of the aspiring Ottoman Empire for development.

He pointed out that the Ottoman Empire also did not issue any law nor did any practice targeting and harming the Jews, and that the Jews, in turn, worked to develop themselves to be useful members of the state.

Isn’t this treatment stemming from the noble teachings of Islam?

Attractiveness of Islam:

A beautiful comment is repeated by non-Muslims who hear about Islam for the first time, as they say:

We did not know that there is a religion on the face of the earth that calls its followers to worship the Creator directly, without a saint, a priest, or any mediator.

A religion affirming that the Creator is the One and Only Who has no partner nor a child, and that He is does not incarnate in the form of a human being, nor an animal nor an idol.

They say:

We used to think that Muslims worship Muhammad, Christians worship Christ, Buddhists worship Buddha, and Hindus worship Krishna.

We were looking for a religion that says:

The Creator is the One and the Only, worship Him alone, which is the religion of the prophets of God Abraham and Moses.

Therefore, We understand from this comment that there is an urgent need to deliver the true religion to all nations, but with giving everyone the right to choose religion, and the freedom to practice religious rites that pertain to his religion, without killing, terrorism or bloodshed, and this is what only the religion of Islam provides in particular.

The Muslims were not obliged to take up arms and fight except to protect themselves and ward off aggression.

  • Muhammad, the Messenger of God, stayed in Mecca for thirteen years, calling by good advice without fighting or bloodshed, he and his companions were weak and subjected to torture and abuse to turn away from their religion; this not distracted them from Islam, but gave them an insistence on following the truth. Therefore, if there is a compulsion, then in blocking Islam, not in following it.
  • Islam entered the city of Medina – the Prophet’s city – without any fighting; their masters were convinced of Islam when the Prophet offered it to them, so they pledged the first and second pledges of Aqaba, then sent “Musab bin Omair” to them who worked hard to invite the people of Medina until most of them embraced the religion of Islam, and they endured trials and persecutions for its sake,
  • Most of the Islamic wars and invasions in the Prophet’s era were not initiated by Muslims. For example, Muslims were invaded in Badr, Uhud, and al-Ahzab. As for the invasions of the Jews and the conquest of Makkah, Mutah, Tabuk and others, they were a discipline for those who betrayed contracts, violated covenants, and began to attack.
  • When the Messenger of God entered Makkah as a conquest, while his enemies trembling with fear, he asked: What do you think I will do to you? They said: An honorable brother and an honorable nephew. He said: Go, you are free. Why didn’t the Prophet kill them all or force them to embrace Islam as long as his goal was murder and coercion?
  • Muslims often engaged in unequal battles in terms of numbers and equipment, where their opponent was overwhelmingly superior. In the Battle of Mu’tah – for example – we find that the number of Muslim soldiers was about three thousand men, while the number of the infidel army was two hundred thousand fighters, not to mention the superiority in equipment and war machine. The army begins to impose its right on this large crowd?! Did three thousand Muslims strive to impose Islam on two hundred thousand people?!
  • Beliefs do not settle in the hearts under the pressure of the sword and oppression at all, but rather are established by persuasion and clear argument. If the peoples had embraced Islam under compulsion, then, they would soon have rebelled against it and left it. The truth that history bears witness that Muslims are the most adherent to their religion, despite the persecutions and wars they suffer in many parts of the world even in our time.
  • It is well known that there is an Islamic population in Southeast Asia, in countries that the conquering Muslim did not set foot on, such as the Philippines and Indonesia. It is worth noting that these constitute the majority of Muslims in our time.
  • There are many Muslims in Europe and the Americas, which are countries that the Muslim conquerors did not enter, and there are Muslim minorities in all non-Islamic countries and they adhere to Islam.
  • Muslims entered Nubia under the leadership of “Abdullah bin Abi Sarh”. They also entered parts of West Africa under the leadership of “Uqba bin Nafie” . West African countries represented in, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Chad, Cameroon. All of these countries have a Muslim majority. They adhere to their religion despite all the media distortion of the religion of Islam at the present time.
  • We hear daily about large numbers embracing the religion of Islam in non-Muslim countries, until it has been proven by international and non-Islamic official statistics that Islam is the fastest spreading religion in the world these days.

It was stated in the study of Dr. Mahmoud al-Sayyid, “The Tatars and the Mongols” (p./150-154):

“Korgoz”, ruler of Persia, by “Ajtay Khan”, embraced the Islamic religion at the end of his reign, after “Barakat Khan” of the Golden Horde 654 AH – 666 AH embraced the Islamic faith, in the first real victory of Islam, especially after the great majority of his people followed him, even if all men of his armies were Muslims and they were Mongols, and this was followed by closer political ties between “Barakat Khan” and “Baibars” , the Sultan of Egypt, and both of them allied themselves against the Hulagu family in Persia.

The Almighty says:

There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path (Baqara 256).

The Almighty says as well:

Had your Lord so willed, all those who are on the earth would have believed. Will you, then, force people into believing? (Yunus: 99).

Someone might say: Why did Islam allow fighting in the first place? If the reason is not to force people to convert to Islam?

The answer to that is:

  • Confronting those who prevent people from being informed of the need to worship the Creator alone directly without an intermediary.
  • Defending themselves.
  • Stopping the injustice and helping the oppressed.
  • Confronting those who prevent them from embracing the true religion and practicing their religious rituals.
  • Fighting those who prevent Muslims from conveying the message.
  • Purifying the earth from the atmosphere of temptation, so that people worship God, the Lord of the worlds alone, will be facilitated.
  • Establishing the Oneness of God in the land of God among the servants of God. Worshipping God liberates humans from every servitude that humiliates them.

Evidence for this is that God Almighty allowed fighting but did allow killing; fighting is only a confrontation with those who came to fight.

Fight in the way of God those who fight against you but do not transgress. Indeed, God does not like transgressors. (Baqara:190)

That is why “Rabi Ibn Amr” said to Rustam, the Persian king:

Indeed, God has sent us to guide you from worshiping the creation to worshiping the Creator of the creation and to guide you from the constriction of this world to the vastness of this world, and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam. God (Allah) has sent us to save you from worshiping each other. Whoever refuse, we accept the Jizya (tax) from him, and if he refused, we would fight him until we attain victory.

He means to fight the one who insists on fighting, but not the one who insists on maintaining his own religion, paying the tax, and respecting the rights of Muslims and others.

There is a big difference between the two cases.

This is what was mentioned in the Qur’an:

Fight against them ˹if they persecute you˺ until there is no more persecution, and ˹your˺ devotion will be to Allah ˹alone˺. If they stop ˹persecuting you˺, let there be no hostility except against the aggressors. (Baqara:193)

To clarify this, we say:

If you want to cure a person of alcoholism, you must keep him away from the place of alcohol.

If you want a person to repent of adultery, do not make him live among brothels.

When you want to make people healthy, you must provide them with a healthy and clean environment.

Fighting in Islam intended to give the way for people to choose between worshiping God and leaving polytheism, or staying true to their religion with conditions, including paying the tax, by providing them with an atmosphere of faith that helps them to have freedom of belief and the ability to differentiate between truth and falsehood.

God Almighty said:

There is compulsion in religion. Rightness is distinguished from wrongdoing (Al-Baqarah: 256).

Summary:

We can find a summary of all of the above in the following non-Muslims sayings:

The Lebanese Christian writer Amin Maalouf says in his book “Killer Identities”:

If my ancestors were Muslims in a country conquered by Christian armies, instead of being Christians in a country conquered by Muslim armies, I do not think that they could have continued to live for fourteen centuries in their cities and villages, keeping their faith. What actually happened to the Muslims of Spain and Sicily? They disappeared to the last, were massacred, deserted, or baptized by force. In the history of Islam, since its beginnings, there is a special ability to coexist with the other.


He continues:


At the end of the last century, there was among the residents of Istanbul, the capital of the main Islamic power, a non-Muslim majority consisting of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews. Can we imagine, in the same era, that half of the population of Paris, London, Vienna or Berlin would be from Non-Christians, Muslims or Jews?

Even today, many Europeans are surprised to hear the call of the prayers in their cities.

Jonathan Brown, an American university professor and researcher in Islamic studies. He is the editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and the Law. He converted to Islam in 1997. In his lecture, he refutes the slander that Islam was spread by sword and coercion, and shows that sword and violence were the hallmarks of Western civilization, not Islam!

We understand from the above that Islam came to achieve and establish justice on earth, which is represented in directly worshiping the Creator of the universe and supporting the oppressed. A religion that came with this goal will spread at lightning speed, without coercion or violence, because it is the religion that souls yearn for. The rapid spread of this religion is the reality that the whole world is witnessing today.


Note:

The Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Middle East use the word “Allah” to refer to God, which refers to The Only True God ( the Creator). The word “Allah” was mentioned in the earlier version of the Old Testament 89 times. (Refer to Genesis 2:4, Book of Daniel 6:20 Hebrew and Arabic Bible).

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