"There is No Compulsion in Religion" - Analyzing One of the Biggest Lies Told to the World
15 Jun, 2007
"There is no compulsion in religion"
Whenever I hear this verse being quoted as evidence of Islam being a peaceful, tolerant religion, I feel mixed emotions - anger at the Muslim disrespect of my intelligence and amusement at their delusion that this line will somehow cause us to ignore the hundreds of hate-mongering verses littered across the Qur'an. However, I also wished to analyze this Qur'anic verse to understand what exactly it means. After some study, I have realized that instead of giving Islam any respectability, this verse exposes its true nature - and the evil verses that characterize the entire Qur'an.
It should be noted that the verse "there is no compulsion in religion" is:
(1) A "Meccan" verse - adopted in the days that Prophet Mohammed lived at the mercy of the tribes of Mecca, commanded no significant followers and enjoyed the reputation of being a cult leader who skated often too close to insulting the Meccan religion, only to be saved by his influential uncle and wealthy wife.
(2) Overruled by Allah's revelation that any fresh verse can directly contradict/reject any early verse and issue different verses on the same topic. Hence no Muslim can follow this verse as there are hundreds of other, later verses that call for the suppression, humiliation and extermination of non-Muslims and all things non-Muslim. On the debate of following the Meccan or Medinian Qur'an, Islam's Prophet and the Islamic God have already ruled in favor of the Medinian Qur'an.
(3) Characterized by "Taqiyya" - the Islamic principle and Qur'anic teachings of lying in order to protect/advance the fortunes of Islam -Muslims are permitted to lie, deceive and betray non-Muslims if it helps to advance the cause of Islam and its eventual domination over all societies and the entire world. The Qur'an instructs Muslims to never take non-Muslims as friends nor have any bond with them. If a Muslim is in a non-Muslim land, the Qur'an instructs that he or she may publicly appear friendly but should fill their hearts with hate and enmity towards the non-Muslim society, religion and its followers. This best describes Mohammed's beginnings as a prophet in Mecca - appease, lie and deceive to protect oneself but secretly aim to destroy non-Muslims.
However, as it is used in the media and public as a deceitful defense of Islam, it is important to consider what impact this verse and its use has in real life.
Let us look at a modern example - until 2005, Yousuf Youhana was more or less the most famous Pakistani Christian. He was one of the most senior and successful players in the Pakistani national cricket team. In October, 2005 Yousuf Youhana announced his conversion to Islam and adopted the name Mohammed Yousuf. According to Yousuf, he came under the influence of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) missionaries in 2002 and 2003, encouraged by ex-cricketer and TJ preacher Saeed Anwar and the national team captain Inzamam ul Haq. Yousuf claimed that he converted as early as 2003, but did not reveal his decision in public for family and privacy concerns.
While causing a furious debate about whether he converted just to win the captaincy, Yousuf certainly seemed to have made a personal, conscious decision to convert to Islam and became the poster-boy for Muslim missionaries. It was significant that Yousuf only went public with his conversion after his wife Tania and their children followed him in converting to Islam from Christianity. His parents and other relatives were publicly severe in condemning his conversion, so exactly what family and privacy concerns were assuaged that Yousuf felt comfortable in going public?
Some claimed that Yousuf was being emotionally blackmailed by his wife and relatives against conversion. However, now Yousuf apparently succeeded in getting his wife and children to convert despite continuing opposition from their parents, relatives and basically the entire Pakistani Christian community. Even though his parents have publicly condemned him, Yousuf seeks to convert all his relatives to Islam. Quite ambitious for someone being subdued by emotional blackmail for 3 years. Especially notable is the wife's early opposition and emotional blackmailing, given the humiliation and shame accompanying a woman who leaves or is left by her husband in South Asian societies. How could Tania Youhana hope for a decent future if she left her husband, a powerful, famous sports celebrity, a convert to the religion of the majority and backed by an army of Muslim missionaries and religious parties?
The real answer is the Qur'anic and Shariati injunction deeming marriage between a Muslim and non-Muslim as illegal. While there have been notable examples to the contrary in countries across the world, the involvement of Muslim missionaries would deem this impossible in Pakistan, which is dominantly Muslim and ruled by Shariati laws. So it becomes fairly obvious -Yousuf was giving his wife and children a final chance to convert to Islam, or have their marriage declared null and void. It could be sinister conduct from Yousuf, but it may also be possible that giving the strong role of the TJ and other Pakistani cricketers in Yousuf's conversion, it would be self-destructive and ostracizing for Yousuf (in terms of his career, his media image, reputation and place in both Muslim and Christian communities) to cave to his wife's desire to remain Christian. Faced with the existence of drastic consequences and infamy, even decent intentions would fail to prevent Yousuf from disowning his wife and children. Yousuf would have lost his place in the national team, lost respect in the Christian community for dabbling with TJ and Islam and earned the wrath of the TJ and Pakistani Muslims for failing to convert fully or rejecting Islamic law and specific injunctions before the ink had dried on his certificate of conversion.
Yousuf might be seen as giving his wife time and freedom to consider the situation carefully and decide for herself - she was seemingly not "compelled" in this matter of religion. However, consider her rather desperate reality - if her marriage lost legal status, she and her children would be ostracized in contemporary society. Her personal life in turmoil, her future would be bleak and unforgiving (South Asian societies don't take kindly to women abandoned by their menfolk; such women are regarded as those of stray and weak morals or the equivalent of whores). There is not much the Christian community could do for her and it would be incredibly difficult for her to find another respectable man willing to accept her as his wife. Given Yousuf's star power and status, she would also be the target of heavy propaganda by the media, the TJ and others.
The true meaning of "no compulsion in religion" is best understood by the fate and treatment of women in Muslim societies - yeah sure, kidnapped and raped women can be released and returned to their homes, but with no future but that of humiliation, isolation and misery. Yes, they may still be sex slaves under Islam but at least they would have some sort of place in Muslim society and perhaps a family, depending on the whims of their masters.
For those who may think this is mere speculation, it is important to note that over the past few decades, the kidnapping, raping, forced marriages and conversions of Hindu, Buddhist and Christian women in Pakistan has risen to alarming rates. After some time, kidnapped women are shown in public at mosques as having converted to Islam and having married their kidnappers. Deprived of their social respectability and sexual dignity, these helpless women have no option but to accept their captors as their legal masters and the creed of Islam or be ostracized within their own community and the rest of society. Hundreds of thousands of victimized Pakistani women today survive only on the mercy of NGOs, human rights and womens' groups, that too in urban areas such as Karachi and Lahore. God knows what fate befalls millions of women across the Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan, where tribal and religious militias punish the rumor of adultery or pre-marital sex with death and "just punishments" such as gang-raping and stoning. Going to the police or courts is like asking a blind man to drive a car - full of pitfalls and doomed to failure.
Mohammed Yousuf has basically followed the example set by his new-found Prophet and the early Muslims. Women captured by Muslim armies were distributed as sex slaves by Prophet Mohammed to his various generals, aides and allies. They could possibly be used just as sex slaves or if they converted to Islam, be granted some role and shelter in the household of the Muslim warlord and maybe a position of an inferior wife. She would be permitted to bear children, simply to increase the Muslim population and the ranks of the warlord's slaves, tribe and troops. Ever care to count how many half-sons and half-daughters the ruling Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Yemen have?
Saying "there is no compulsion in religion" is the Muslim way of having a non-Muslim stand between Islam on one side and the edge of a tall cliff overlooking a rocky, treacherous valley on the other. Yes, there is no "compulsion" for that non-Muslim to walk towards Islam, but what exactly is the other option? Can any Muslim apologist give an example of a non-Muslim being allowed to not accept Islam and continue to enjoy freedom and a respectable life?