No Compulsion?

Express India writes concerning the situation in Northwest Pakistan, the area that has become for all practical purposes Talibanistan:

Convert to Islam, Christians told in Pakistan

Islamabad, May 10: Some Christians in northwestern Pakistan have received threat letters, asking them to convert to Islam and shut down their churches.

Two churches and some Christian residents in Charsadda, a northwest Pakistan town received handwritten letters which asked them to convert to Islam within ten days or quit the area, a police official said.

Security has been increased in the churches and police are investigating the unsigned letters, the official said.

Clearly, using the standard meaning of words in English, these Christians are being compelled to convert to Islam under dire threat. Let us review those verses from The Cow that are so often abbreviated by apologists for Islam.

[2.256] There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
[2.257] Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.

I see three ways to parse these verses, which are of a piece.

  1. The first clause could be gibberish, interpreted from their phonetic memorizations as well as the earliest transcribers were able. It’s well known that much of the perfect Koran is incomprehensible if read in Arabic, though perhaps it reads more easily in Syriac.
  2. The first clause could be a misplaced sentence, originally meant to be in some other part of the Koran.
  3. Or perhaps the meaning of “no compulsion” is not what we expect. After all, the next sentence says that the truth of Islam is “clearly distinct from error” and thus we should presume it is apparent to everyone with eyes. Thus, if someone does not accept Islam after being exposed to it, then the only possibility can be that they have accepted it, but because of the evil in their hearts they refuse, perversely, to admit they have accepted it. Surely it cannot count as compulsion to force someone who is lying so deliberately to speak the truth that all see as plain as day.

In any case, traditional Islam has always claimed that the Muslims would never compel anyone to become Muslim, while in actuality using threats, force, and persecution to compel non-Muslims to convert (or revert, as Muslims state it, which gives the game away if you think about it).

Summing up, for Muslims “There is no compulsion in religion” means “Any evil deed done to bring people to Islam is transformed into a good deed and shall not count as compulsion.”

It doesn’t count.

Now that is clear!

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