The way of the sword

Question and answer details
Mattew Lee Priesmeyer
The way of the sword
Hello All! My name is Matt, and I am doing a thesis on Islam, and the beliefs, and why people of Islamic faith shouldn't be pinpointed as "evil" in American Society today. I attended a Q/A session at my college about 10 days after the attacks on America, last September. An Islamic professor spoke about a point of Islam, where the way of the sword was the last progression. What was he talking about? I'm just curious it would solidify my argument for the Islamic faith. Thank you for your help.
Shahul Hameed
Hi Matt,
Peace be with you!

Thank you for your question, I hope you are in the best of health and cheer.

Unfortunately after September 11th, Islam is being targeted as "evil"! It is a pity that the people of that most civilized country should know so little about the religion of Islam, which is the latest in the series of great religions. Also consider the fact that one out of every four persons on the face of the earth now is a follower of Islam, and that Islam is the fastest growing religion.

Well, you might have studied the story of the downfall of many empires founded by force or coercion. One recent example is the fall of the Soviet Union. The lesson we learn from such examples is that no ideology or state can stand for a long time, if it is founded by mere brute force. You might also know that Islam started in 610 in Arabia and now after fourteen centuries, it has overtaken all other religions in its speed of propagation, and it is obvious now that it is not the sword that helps it to spread so fast in this modern period of ours!

Now what is Islam's stand about the sword or the use of force?

The Holy Qur'an, which is the Holy Book of Islam very clearly states:

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.

Surah 2 Verse 256

This means that in matters of religion, force has no place.

Nevertheless, the Qur'an very emphatically speaks about the importance of establishing justice in every walk of life. The relevant Qur'an verse is:

O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

Surah 4 Verse 135

There are many other verses also which emphasize particularly social justice. We can understand that if we sincerely strive to establish social justice we have to stand against many who are powerful, which at times may lead to conflicts and fighting. Still, in any case, the use of force is the last option.

To give a specific example: If you are driven out of your house, or if you are being attacked for no fault of yours, Islam teaches that you have every right to resist, to fight back. That is the occasion for fighting; there you have to remember one thing: that you are not to exceed the limits. That is to say you are allowed to fight until your rights are restored, and not a minute more.

Islam is a practical religion; it teaches human beings (not angels) how to live here in this world. You may find other religions preaching not to resist evil; but think of the practical consequences of such an idea! In this world, often we are compelled to fight to establish Peace; that is a paradox. But that is the truth.

The aim of our fighting should be the establishment of a just and peaceful society. As long as that is so, fighting is permitted. Otherwise evil will rule!Islam means peace and truly stands for a peaceful and prosperous society where love, mercy, justice and all other values prevail.

I think, the professor you are referring to was speaking about the unavoidable use of force, in the context of outright violations of justice and peace.

Hope this answers your question.
Thank you