Q: Are Muslims compelled to force people from other faiths to convert to Islam?
A: There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 256)
Islam is a religion of love and beauty. Since people who live by Islam see the essence and beauty of this beautiful faith and have a profound belief in Allah, they live in a state of great excitement and enthusiasm. This is an opening of the heart. The source of devotion to Islam is love of Allah. A Muslim prays because of his love of Allah. He performs his religious obligations and lives by the Qur’an because of his love of Allah. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Muslims in that regard as “those whose hearts turn to Allah” and “those who are unreservedly devoted.”
A Muslim comprehends Islam and the might of Allah with his mind and confirms them with his heart. As set out in a definitive pronouncement in the Qur’an, nobody can impose the religion on anyone else by the use of force or compulsion. If attempts are made to force anyone to convert to Islam, that may make him a hypocrite rather than a Muslim. The result is the kind of person who is totally opposed to Islam. Under pressure, the hypocrite will say that he is a Muslim, though in his heart he harbors a conception that is a far cry from the moral values of the Qur’an and is a fraud who harbors hatred for and is inimical to Islam and Muslims.
Every Muslim has an obligation to preach the word of Islam and tell people of its pronouncements and excellent moral values. But this, the Qur’an states, can never be done through compulsion. The Qur’an may be communicated to Christians and Jews, but if these people insist of living by their own faiths, then there can be no question of forcing them to do otherwise.
For that reason, Allah says, “There is no compulsion in the religion” and speaks of the need for voluntary love. Compelling people to be Muslims is prohibited in Islam.