If Muslims are forbidden to force non-Muslims to convert to Islam, why do we keep reading about such conversions in Muslim majority countries?

As this thread from the Usenet group alt.religion.islam suggests, many Muslims (and some non-Muslims) claim forced conversion is not an issue ....

forahmad@hotmail.com (1MAN4ALL) wrote in message news:...
> "Juan Vargas" wrote in message news:<0tednQmgxoWfXdfdRVn-uw@bravo.net>...


> > ... Islam is not seeking tolerance and the right
> > to practice its beliefs freely; it is actually seeking ...
> > to impose its beliefs on others...
> .... get this stupid thought out of your brain
> that we are trying to impose our beliefs on
> you. We call you to Islam, but if you don't want to listen, then as
> the Quran says:
> [109.1] Say: O unbelievers!
> [109.2] I do not serve that which you serve,
> [109.3] Nor do you serve Him Whom I serve:
> [109.4] Nor am I going to serve that which you serve,
> [109.5] Nor are you going to serve Him Whom I serve:
> [109.6] You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

And certainly Baqarah 256 in the Qur'an couldn't be more clear on the issue:

"Let There be no complusion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error."(Q2:256)
Even exponents of world Islamic takeover, like the enormously influential Sayyid Qutb, angrily deny Islam has anything to do with forced conversion:
"The orientalists have painted a picture of Islam as a violent movement which imposed its belief upon people by the sword. These vicious orientalist know very well this is not true..." (Milestones p.75-76)
And yet we hear about stories like these ....
...More than 600 Christian women reported attempts by Muslims to convert them in 1997, said Freedom House International, a Washington, D.C.-based [pro-democracy and civil rights] group. Some were tempted with money and promises of marriage into wealthy families, while others were abducted and held captive in Islamic reeducation centers, where teams of professors and thugs tried to coerce conversions, the agency said. ..."Forced conversion is alive and doing well in Egypt, I hate to tell you," Nagi Kheir of the American Coptic Association (see link #2 below) told Religion Today. Teen-age and young women are the primary targets because they have little legal protection in Egyptian society and are easily scared, Kheir said.

...The women are taken to dormitory-like buildings and instructed in the Muslim faith. Professors spend hours reading the Koran and pressuring them to observe Islamic laws, Britain-based Jubilee Campaign (see link #3 below) said. Teams of security guards prevent them from escaping, and those who don't respond are threatened with murder and sometimes are raped, it reported....

CAIRO, Egypt (CHARISMA) -- A secret network kidnaps Christian students in an effort to make them convert to Islam. Details of a string of houses where young Christians are kept against their will and forced to study the Koran were revealed to Voice of the Martyrs (VM) by a Coptic believer who escaped from one of the homes.

Identified by the ministry only as Mary, the young woman was befriended by two Muslim students while at university. They told her that they respected her faith, and invited her to go on trips with them. Then one day they took Mary to a home for Christian girls who convert to Islam, and she found herself locked in when she tried to leave.


From: Shaul Wallach (F66204@BARILVM.BITNET)
Subject: Forced Conversion of Yemeni Jews to Islam
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Newsgroups: soc.culture.arabic
Date: 1992-01-14 05:52:55 PST

Today's Israeli Orthodox daily "Yated Ne'eman" carried the story, whose translation is given below, of 15 Jewish children in Yemen who were forcibly converted to Islam after their parents were murdered by highway robbers. This most recent report comes less than a month after news that a Jew in a city in northern Yemen was kidnapped in the market and his two daughters taken by a local Muslim religious notable to be given as wives to his own sons.

The exact number of Jews remaining in Yemen is not known, but estimates range from less than 1,000 to as many as 6,000. Many of them live in small towns and cities in the more remote parts of the country... http://groups.google.com/groups?q=conversion+islam+yemen&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&selm=92014.141136F66204%40BARILVM.BITNET&rnum=1

Terror attacks in the name of religion
By Lindsay Murdoch

Saturday January 27, 2001.

Circumcision has been forced on hundreds of Christians, including children and pregnant women, in a campaign by extremists to spread Islam through the war-ravaged Maluku islands. Victims have told the Herald of multiple cuttings with the same knives and razors that caused many to suffer infections. In the biggest city in the islands, Ambon, church and other groups have gathered evidence that 3,928 villagers on at least six islands have been forced to convert to Islam under the threat of death, torture or destruction of their homes. They believe that local Muslim clerics, possibly under duress from extremists, circumcised almost all the converts....


From: Rahul Chakma (rchakma1@angelfire.com)
Subject: Conversion to Islam by coercion
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Newsgroups: soc.culture.usa, soc.culture.british, soc.culture.indian, soc.culture.bangladesh, alt.religion.islam
Date: 2001-12-09 05:18:01 PST

... My name is Rahul Chakma. I belong to the Jumma people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. The Jummas are non-Muslims in overwhelmingly Muslim dominated Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government have been trying to Islamise the Jumma people by murder, coercion, intimidation and monetary allurement. Followings are some examples of conversion to Islam by coercion, then again these are only tip of the iceberg.
A Buddhist monk in the refugee camp in Tripura, India describes his ordeal to the Amnesty International, the incident took place in 1986 at Panchari where a group of Jumma people were attacked because they were not Muslims.
"Before this happened, one day 13 of us went to market. I was not a monk then. The Bangladesh Rifles (paramilitary force) and settlers caught us and out of 13, nine were killed and four of us escaped. The reason was that we were not Muslims; they wanted us to be Muslims to take Islam....

For Islamists it will be enough to dismiss these reports as lies disseminated as part of the worldwide war against Islam. But for the rest of us the reports seem too numerous and diverse to be explained away.

But if they are true, why is this clear direction of the Qur'an being ignored? Is it some wierd deviation from Islam? Bandit folk Islam or banditry disguised as Islam?

Here is my guess what's going on:

  1. First off, furious denials of Qutb's and other to the contrary, it is most definately not true that Islam has not been spread by the sword. Some examples: (from: p.61, p.71, p.104 of The Dhimmi : Jews and Christians Under Islam, by Bat Ye'or, Associated University Presses, 1985)

    The policy of executed conquered recalitrant or troublemaking non-Muslims who had tried put up a fight against their conquerors but who save their lives if they converted to Islam, also created a sort of defacto, unofficial forced conversion.

    In some places forced conversion was suffiently common for its practioners to have set up a system to deal with the problem of false conversion and backsliding of the converts to their old faith by creating a class of sort of convert "proto-Muslims" not entitled to all the priledges of Muslimness (i.e. lower taxes, ablity to own and carry arms, have equal wieght of testimony in court, etc.) until several generations after conversion. [?]

    But what is/was the religious basis of forced conversion in the face of Q2:256? There are other ayat and at least a couple of ahadith that forcerers of conversion can draw on support their actions

    Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the polytheists wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, them let them go their way: God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Q9:5

    ["perform[ing] the prayer (salat) and pay the alms (zakat)"] are, of course what Muslims do, two of the five pillars that make up Islamic duties. So it's pretty easy to interpret this aya as calling on Muslims to offer polytheists (mushrikun) the choice of becoming Muslims or being slain.]

    ``Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: `None has the right to be worshipped by Allah,` and whoever said it then he will save his life and property . . . ` (2:274; 24.1.483)

    [Again, kafir have the choice of worshipping Allah or being killed and having your property taken as booty by the killer]

    `Narrated Abu Qatada: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever had killed an infidel and has a proof or a witness for it, then the salb (arms and belongings of that deceased) will be for him."` (9:213; 89.21.282)
  2. Secondly there's the enormous importance of conversion in Islam. In an era where Muslims seem to be behind the rest of the world economically, technologically, scientifically, and militarily, its only natural that Muslims look for something they are first in and celebrate it when they find it. The fact that Islam is the fastest growing major religion has become not just a point of pride but a source of great solice. Any non-Muslim who's spent time with Muslims learning about Islam will be familiar with the searching looks and repeated ernest questions on whether you (the non-Muslim) have converted (or "reverted" since all human beings are considered by believers to be Muslims until their parents raise them asa Christinas, Jews or whatever) to Islam yet. Converting others to the faith, always important in Islam (and traditionally in Christianity too), has becomes all the more so in these troubled times.
  3. Combining the commandment to kill polytheists who fail to convert with a deep desire for growth of Islam, Muslims (often involved in some feud with neighboring non-Muslims) kidnapped or capture polytheists and offer them a choice between conversion and death. Naturally to non-Muslims the distinction between "compulsion in religion" and this "choice" seems pretty nonsensacle, but to the Muslims compelling conversion this "choice" is one sanctioned by Islam.

There's a problem with this explanation though. Outside of India and the southern borders of the Muslim world in Africa, the victims of the forced conversion are overwhelmingly Christian. And the injunction to choose between Islam and death should only apply to "polytheists," not them. After all:

Fight those who believe not in God and the Last day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden - such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book - until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled. (9:29)
Since Christians "have been given the Book" (the Bible or injeel) they aren't required to convert, only to pay tribute and be humble.

This may be were modern Islamism comes in. Preaching by Islamists that the West is waging a "War against Islam" has certainly raised Muslim anamousity against Christians, but subtler issues may be involved. In addition to claiming that the west was "evil and corrupt" and had a "well-thought-out scheme" to "demolish the structure of Muslim society." (p.116) the previously mentioned Islamist Sayyid Qutb taught that contrary to traditional belief, the Christians (and Jews) WERE polytheists ("...when the Jews and Christians `disobeyed` God, they became like those who `associate others with God,`" i.e. polytheists (Milestones p.60)).

Though they should not be forced to convert Christians (and Jews) also could not be allowed to "remain in the servitude of other human beings," the "other human beings" being priests (and rabis) and the "servitude" being following any religious rules and practices established by those priests (and rabis) - in other words practicing their religion. (This is not to say that the Muslims forcing conversion on non-Muslims do so after studiously reading Sayyid Qutb, but that his influence trickles down just as ayat and ahadith do on uneducated Muslims reverently practicing religious customs whose scriptural basis they have not a clue.)

The combination then of "provocation" by Christians who are neither humble nor jizah tribute tax-paying, but ALSO continue to remain in "servitude" attending Catholic masses or protestant services, may be what is motivating forced conversions of Christians we read about. Of course to do this is to ignore Qutb's contention that forced conversion is just a lie cooked up by Orientalists, but it does seem to be in keeping with his theory that Christians are polytheists and the Qur'an's admonision to "slay the polytheists wherever you find them" unless "they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms..."

Many, if not most, Muslims would say these ayat (9:5,29) and ahadith refer to specific instances in times when non-Muslims were attacking or acting as a fifth column towards Muslims and don't apply today. Those Muslims forcing conversions, it seems quite likely, don't agree.



When a Jew or a Christian is converted to the Mahometan faith, he is immediately dressed in a Moorish habit, and paraded round the streets on horseback, accompanied with music and a great concourse of people. He then chooses himself a Moorish name, and fixes on a person who adopts him as a child, and is ever afterward called is father. This adoption, however, is only nominal, for he is by no means bound to support him. The new convert is not allowed to marry any other women than a Negro, or the daughter of a renegado; and his descendants are not considered as genuine Moors till the fourth generation.
[Ye'or p.291., source: W. Lempriere Tours from Gibraltar to Tangier, Salle, Mogodore, London, 1793 (p.342)]



Confusing over the word "tollerance." "Islam is a tollerant religion" [check google] Islam gives equal rights. [check google] The different meanings of the word "tollerance" is confusing people. When peole talk about "showing tollerance" these days they usually use it in the same sense that the the bumper sticker and slogan "teach tollerance" uses it. It's not just accepting someone but embracing them. It's kindred to slogans and buzz words like "celebrating diversity" and "inclusiveness." Showing tollerance would include granting equal rights and perhaps more than that. When people talk about a policy of "showing tollerance" as contrasted with an "intollerant" policy that in regards to, for example, a new Third World emigrant ethnic group (perhaps Somalis or Haitians) would not just mean allowing them in the country but providing tax-supported services (translators, community centers, low income housing, adult language and job skills education, etc.) But the other use of the word is found in phrases like "we just tollerate him" - a level of relation to someone or group not greater than "acceptance" but less than. There's no implication of equal rights let alone special accomodations or something like generous social services. And when people talk about Islam being a tollerant religion this is the "tollerant" they mean. Historically Islam did not grant non-Muslims equal rights, not in access to governement nor before the law. In fact Muslims would have been shocked by the notion. This "tollerance" doesn't sound like much now, but it was nothing to sneeze at 600 years ago. Islamic tollerance was far more benevolent than Christian treatment of its religious minorities (e.g. Jews) and couldn't even bring itself to allow Muslims into its realm (in Italy) or allow them to stay (in Spain). But it shouldn't be confused with the modern (or postmodern) meaning. ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE When Western liberals mouth these words the reaction by certain red-neck and hardline zionist elements (who will remain nameless) is indignation at an allegedly blatant lie. That the speaker is some sort of spineless Stockholm-Syndromed nincompoop eager to take non-Muslims on the fast lane to dhimmitude. 1.There is more than one Islam. Islam is not just the monopoly of angry monkeys in scullcaps, short hair and long beards. 2. The liberal line might best be defended with a statement like this "OK... there are plenty of Muslims who don't think Islam is a religion of peace. What are you going to do about it? Tell everyone `they're the real Muslims. Islam sucks! Now lets go get them!!!` They're well over one billion Muslims. They aren't going anywhere. And they sure aren't going to be paying attention to your "irrefutable proof" that the Qur'an doesn't make sense. Wispering in the ear of Muslim youth are Islamists telling them about the "War against Islam" and the West's "well-thought-out scheme" to destroy Isalm. They may be criminally insane but they look pretty brave and resolute to teenagers who have to listen to your trash." 3. Where liberals should be faulted IMHO is in not in emphasizing that Muslims and Islam must be treated with respect but getting so rapped up in their PR campaign they become oblivious to whether they are being told the truth by outfits like CAIR or American Muslim Council. People have to be both respectful and alert to cons. bignore ttalking about "Religon of Peace" but not warning non-Muslims that they are not always goiong to be told the truth by non-Muslims. But the Qur'an has other sentiments: (22:39-40) To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to defend themselves], because they are wronged. And verily God is most powerful for their aid. [They are] those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right [for no cause] except that they say, "Our Lord is God." Did not God check one people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure. God will certainly help those who help His cause, for verily God is full of strength, exalted in might. Qur’an (8:60-61) says: "if they incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it, and put thy trust in God." The Qur’an (2:190) says, "And fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not exaggerate. Verily, God does not love those who exaggerate."