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It's much easier to act as if critics of Islam have a problem with Muslims as people than it is to accept the uncomfortable truth that Islam is different


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What can we learn about
Islam from this woman?

Myths of Muhammad

The Myth:

Muhammad Never
Approved of Religious Conversion Made
Under Duress

"Our Prophet (peace be upon him) always taught that there is no compulsion in religion nor any condition in which a conversion under duress is acceptable."

The Truth:

The oft-quoted Qur’anic verse “let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256) takes a serious beating against the reality of Muhammad’s later years.  The prophet of Islam had no real power when this seemingly tolerant passage was "revealed".  Things were much different, however, by the time the ninth Sura was recited, which explicitly calls for forcing others into prayer and paying the jizya (9:29).

Examples from Muhammad’s life prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not opposed to forcible conversions and even ordered them once he had the military authority to do so,

Continuing the story of Abu Sufyan (see Myth: Muhammad always Chose Peace over War), when the Meccan leader visited the Muslim army camp in 630 in an attempt to convince Muhammad not to make war, he was chased into their prophet's presence at the point of a sword.  There he was “invited” to embrace Islam:
[Muhammad] said, “Woe to you, Abu Sufyan, isn’t it time that you recognize that I am Allah’s apostle?” He (Abu Sufyan) answered, “As to that I still have some doubt.” I (the narrator) said to him, “Submit and testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the apostle of Allah before you lose your head,” so he did so. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 814)
It is obvious that this "embrace" of Islam was neither genuine nor volitional.  Yet, there was no admonishment from Muhammad.  The prophet of Islam fully accepted the “conversion” and immediately made use of Abu Sufyan to further his political goals.  (Abu Sufyan and his progeny had the last laugh, however, as they went on to inherit the Muslim empire and murder the prophet's favorite grandchildren... but that is a different story).

After he had conquered Mecca, Muhammad began ordering the executions of those who had insulted him or apostatized.  One of these was his former scribe, Abdullah bin Sa’d, who transcribed Muhammad's “revelations” from Allah, but lost his faith in the "prophet" when the latter adopted suggested editing (Allah’s word was supposed to be unalterable).  Abdullah saved himself by reverting back to Islam in Muhammad’s presence at Mecca as the prophet of Islam waited for someone to strike off his head:
The apostle remained silent for a long time til finally he said ‘yes.’  When Uthman [and Abdullah] had left, he said to his companions who were sitting around him, “I kept silent so that one of you might get up and strike off his head!”  One of the Ansar said, “Then why didn’t you give me a sign, O apostle of Allah?”  He answered that a prophet does not kill by pointing. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 819).
Several poets were murdered by Muhammad at Mecca for the crime of having mocked him.  Another such poet, named Ka’b bin Zuhayr, saved his own skin by converting to Islam after finding no other way to avoid execution. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 888-889).

The Hadith also records that many other Meccans converted to Islam under obvious duress.  As one apprehensive observer noted to Muhammad at the time:
(They embraced Islam because) they were defeated at your hands (and as such their Islam is not dependable). (Sahih Muslim 4453)
These sorts of conversions were fully recognized by Muhammad, as proven by this hadith, in which he rebukes a soldier for killing a person who had "converted" merely to save his life:
Allah's Apostle sent us towards Al-Huruqa, and in the morning we attacked them and defeated them.  I and an Ansari man followed a man from among them and when we took him over, he said, "La ilaha illal-Lah."  On hearing that, the Ansari man stopped, but I killed him by stabbing him with my spear.  When we returned, the Prophet came to know about that and he said, "O Usama! Did you kill him after he had said "La ilaha ilal-Lah?"  I said, "But he said so only to save himself."  The Prophet kept on repeating that so often that I wished I had not embraced Islam before that day.  (Bukhari 59:568)
(Note that Muhammad was not in the least bit concerned that the victims were slaughtered while fleeing the Muslim army.  This is another strike against the myth that Muslims are only supposed to fight in self-defense).

By this time Muhammad was spreading Islam by any means necessary.  He was even using captured wealth to buy loyalty:
Allah's Apostle gave (gifts) to some people to the exclusion of some others. The latter seemed to be displeased by that. The Prophet said, "I give to some people, lest they should deviate from True Faith” (Bukhari 53:373).
Muhammad actually captured a man’s wife and children, then used them as leverage to force his conversion:
The apostle told them to tell Malik that if he came to him as a Muslim he would return his family and property to him and give him a hundred camels. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 879)
Islam was being cheapened.  It was no longer a religion, but rather a political allegiance established by force.  Muhammad sent one of his men to Yemen with a military force, where a local pagan leader was told, “Testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, or else I will chop off your neck." (Bukhari 59:643)

Neither was there any heartfelt religious conviction in the reluctant “conversion” of the Thaqif tribe, for example:

[The Thaqif leaders said to one another] “We are in an impasse. You have seen how the affair of this man [Muhammad] has progressed. All the Arabs have accepted Islam and you lack the power to fight them… don’t you see that your herds are not safe; none of you can go out without being cut off.” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 915)
Their solution was to “accept Islam,” and so they sent their couriers to Muhammad to announce their conversion, ask for a promise that they would no longer by harassed by the Muslims, and request a grace period before they had to 'give up' their old religion:
The riders of Thaqif had come to make their submission and accept Islam on the apostle’s conditions provided that they could get a document guaranteeing their people and their land and animals… Among the things they asked the apostle was that they should be allowed to retain their idol al-Lat undestroyed for three years.  The apostle refused, and they continued to ask him for a year or two and he refused… (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 916)
Obviously the Thaqif were not acting out of a true belief in Islam, but rather from the desperation in which non-Muslims Arabs were finding themselves in the wake of Muslim aggression.  Muhammad had the power and he was directing his armies to wipe out those who would not submit to Islam.

“Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah,” were his instructions to one of his military leaders (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 992).  Muhammad also congratulated a faraway king on accepting Islam and “killing the polytheists” under his reign, even as he directed another military leader to “invite” a neighboring tribe to Islam and then slaughter them if they refused:
Then the apostle sent Khalid bin Walid… to the Banu al-Harith and ordered him to invite them to Islam three days before he attacked them. If they accepted then he was to accept it from them; and if they declined he was to fight them. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 959)
Khalid’s famous pronouncement, “If you accept Islam then you will be safe,” is echoed by Jihadists like Osama bin Laden to this day.

Further Reading:


Myths of Muhammad Index

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