Non-Muslim Observation About The Reality of The Spread of Islam

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It is of no surprise to us to see the Christian missionaries playing on the myth of the so-called Islamic “violence” during its rapid rise. Some non-Muslims do recognize that the claim that “Islam is the religion of the sword” is more based on biased propaganda rather than on fact. As early as 1923 when Orientalists were molding Islam into the image they want it to be, i.e. murderous and violent, De Lacy O’Leary wrote that

History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.[1]

Another writer observes that:

The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur’?n in the other is quite false.[2]

The famous historian Thomas Carlyle refers to this misconception about the spread of Islam:

The sword indeed, but where will you get your sword? Every new opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one. In one man’s head alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it, there is one man against all men. That he takes a sword and tries to propagate with that, will do little for him. You must get your sword! On a whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can.[3]

So the question remains to be asked: were there any form of organized persecution by Muslims towards those who do not profess Islam as their religion? Thomas W. Arnold has this to say:

We have never heard about any attempt to compel non-Muslim parties to adopt Islam or about any organized persecution aiming at exterminating Christianity. If the Caliphs had chosen one of these plans, they would have wiped out Christianity as easily as what happened to Islam during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain; by the same method which Louis XIV followed to make Protestantism a creed whose followers were to be sentenced to death; or with the same ease of keeping the Jews away from Britain for a period of three hundred fifty years.[4]

Huston Smith has the following to say regarding the Muslim defense for the claim:

…Muslims point to the long centuries during which in India, Spain, and the Near East, Christians, Jews, and Hindus lived quietly and in freedom under Muslim rule. Even under the worst caliphs, Christians and Jews held positions of influence and in general retained their religious freedom. The Christians, not Muslims, we are reminded, expelled the Jews in the fifteenth century from Spain where they had lived in freedom while the Muslims were in power. To press this example: Spain and Anatolia changed hands at about the same time — Christians expelled the Moors from Spain while Muslims conquered what is now Turkey. Every Muslim was driven from Spain, or put to the sword, or forced to convert, whereas the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church remains in Istanbul to this day. Indeed, if comparisons are the issue, Muslims consider Christianity’s record to be the darker of the two. Who was it, they ask, who preached the Crusades in the name of the Prince of Peace? Who instituted the inquisition, invented the rack and the stake as instruments of religion, and plunged Europe into its devastating wars of religion?[5]

This is further attested to by Dr William Baker when he says that:

Although the Jews joined with the enemies of early Islam, neither they nor Judaism were targeted by Muhammad or Islam. It is a fact of history that when the Jews were being persecuted in Europe during the Middle Ages they found peace, harmony, and acceptance among the Muslim people of Spain. In fact, this was the era of Jewish history that they themselves refer to as ?the Golden Age?.[6]

In The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, we read the following admission that:

Christianity has largely misunderstood the nature of Islamic militancy. The fiction that Islam was preached by the sword and Christianity by the lamb and the dove appeared early in Christian writing, and still exercises a powerful influence upon the popular perception of Islam. Christian polemicists were quick to contrast the idealized life of Christ with that of Muhammad and his followers, ?who ceased not to go forth in battle and rapine, to smite with the sword, to seize the little ones, and ravish wives and maidens?.[7]

Another non-Muslim author, Ira Zepp Jr., says the following:

It is unfortunate that Islam has been stereotyped as the ‘religion of the sword’ or that Islam was ‘spread by the sword.’ The historical reality is that the expansion of Islam was usually by persuasion and not by military power. In any case, Islam cannot be forced on anyone; if profession of the shahadah [i.e. the declaration of Islam] is forced on someone, it is not true Islam.[8]

The point is clear that non-Muslim scholars are beginning to recognize that attributing violence to Islam is merely a stigma from past Western hostility towards Islam. That Christendom had to rely on these circulated myths to regain some self-respect is attested by Norman A. Daniel, who observes the following:

[the] West formed a more or less invariable canon of beliefs about Islam; it decided for itself what Islam was, and formed a view materially different from anything Muslims would recognise … The important thing was it suited the West. It corresponded to need … it gave Christendom self-respect in dealing with a civilisation in many ways its superior.[9]

That Muslims treated their non-Muslim subjects much better than Christians do to theirs in a civilisation much more superior than Christendom in Europe during the Middle Ages is evident when Washington W. Irving observed that

As conquerors [Muslims], their heroism was equaled only by their moderation, and in both, for a time, they excelled the nations with whom they contended. Severed from their native homes, they loved the land given them as they supposed by All?h and strove to embellish it with everything that could administer to the happiness of man. Laying the foundations of their power in a system of wise and equitable laws, diligently cultivating the arts and sciences, and promoting agriculture, manufactures and commerce, they gradually formed an empire unrivaled for its prosperity by any of the empires of Christendom…The cities of Arabian Spain became the resort of Christian artisans, to instruct themselves in the useful art. The Universities of Toledo, Cordova, Seville, Granada, were sought by the pale student from lands to acquaint himself with the sciences of the Arabs and the treasure lore of antiquity.[10]

If Christian artisans and scholars were themselves thriving in Muslim-ruled Spain, where is the basis of the missionaries’ claim that Islam was “spread by the sword” or that Christians were persecuted under Muslim rule? Need we say any more to shatter the myths that Christians try to pass off about Islam?

And certainly, only God knows best!


[1] De Lacy O’Leary, Islam at the Crossroads (London, 1923), p. 8

[2] A. S. Tritton, Islam (1951)

[3] Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship

[4] Thomas W. Arnold, The Call to Islam

[5] Huston Smith, The Religions of Man (1983)

[6] Dr William Baker, More in Common Than You Think: The Bridge between Islam and Christianity, (1998) Defenders Publications

[7] John McManners (Ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 174

[8] Ira Zepp Jr., A Muslim Primer (1992), Wakefield Editions, US, p. 134

[9] Norman A. Daniel, Islam and the West: The Making of an Image, p. 270

[10] Washington W. Irving, Tales Of The Alhambra, p. 52Endmark


2 responses to “Non-Muslim Observation About The Reality of The Spread of Islam”

  1. Relucta Avatar

    Good will prevail over evil .. La Ilaha Ilalah

  2. akram khari Avatar
    akram khari

    If any religion, was spread by the sword,it would be the christian religion!Under the EXCLUSIVE domination of EUROPE,it proceeded to ENSLAVE,MURDER,RAPE,FORCE to convertion,and COLONIZED ANYONE,who did not fit into their RACIST world view!They did this from the 15th century on!With no end in sight!Their so-called”war on terror”,is just another DEMONIC CRUSADE against ISLAM,and ALL who practice it!If they REALLY,were fighting a”war on terror”,they would also try to destroy SAVAGE CHRISTIAN TERRORIST GROUPS(the KKK,IRA,AYRAN NATION,etc.).Or HINDU,JEWISH OR ATHEIST TERROR GROUPS!But like ALL SHAYTANS(SATANIST),they don’t believe in anything but EVIL!

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