Islam’s Uninterrupted History of Forced Conversions

Finding and connecting similar patterns of behavior throughout Islamic history is one of the most objective ways of determining whether something is or is not part of Muslim civilization.

Consider the issue of forced conversion in Islam, a phenomenon that has a long history with ample precedents.  Indeed, from its inception, most of those who embraced Islam did so under duress, beginning with the Ridda wars and during the age of conquests, and to escape dhimmi status.  This is a simple fact.

Yet, when one examines today’s cases of forced conversions with those from centuries past, identical patterns emerge, demonstrating great continuity.  Consider:

Days ago in Pakistan, two Christian men were severely beaten with iron rods and left for dead by a group of Muslims, simply because they refused to convert to Islam.  According to Compass Direct News, they were returning from a church service when they were accosted by six Muslims.  After they discovered they were Christian, the Muslims

then started questioning them about their faith and later tried to force them to recite the Kalma [Islamic conversion creed, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”] and become Muslims, telling them that this was the only way they could live peacefully in the city. They also offered monetary incentives and “protection” to Ishfaq and Naeem [the Christians], but the two refused to renounce Christianity.

“After cajoling the two Christians for some time,” the Muslims pretended to go away, only to ram their car into the Christians: “The Muslims [then] got out of the car armed with iron rods and attacked Ishfaq and Naeem, shouting that they should either recite the Kalma or be prepared to die…severely beating[ing] the two Christians, fracturing Ishfaq Munawar’s jaw and breaking five teeth, and seriously injuring Masih…. [T]he two Christians fell unconscious, and the young Muslim men left assuming they had killed them.”

Contrast this contemporary account with the following anecdote from some 500 years past (excerpted from Witnesses for Christ, pgs.62-64):

In the year 1522, two Christian brothers in Ottoman Egypt were denounced by local Muslims “mostly out of jealousy and envy”; so the emir arrested them and “began flattering them and asking questions about their faith.”  The brothers made it clear that they were firm adherents of Christianity.  “The Muslims in the audience became enraged with the brothers when they heard their answers, and they began screaming and demanding they must become Muslims.”  The brothers responded by refusing to “deny the faith we received from our forefathers, but we will remain unshaken and very firm in it until the end.”

The Muslim judge deciding their case told the Christian brothers that if they simply said the Kalma and embraced Islam, they “would be given many honors and much glory”; otherwise, they would die.  At that point, the brothers’ mother came to support them, but “when the Muslims in court noticed her, they fell upon her, tore her clothing, and gave her a thorough beating.”

After rebuking them for their savagery, the brothers reaffirmed that they would never deny Christianity for Islam, adding “behold our necks, do what you wish, but do it quickly.”

Hearing this, one of the Muslims in the audience became so angry that he took out a knife and stabbed Kyrmidoles [one brother] in the chest, while someone else kicked him as hard as possible, and another dropped a large stone on his head.  Finally, they plucked out his eyes.  Thus Kyrmidoles died.  As for Gabriel [his brother] they threw him to the ground and one of the soldiers severed his right shoulder and then proceeded and cut off his head.

Now, consider the near identical patterns in the two accounts, separated by half a millennium:

1)      The Muslims first begin by talking to the Christians about their religion, suggesting they convert to Islam.

2)      Failing to persuade the Christians, the Muslims proceed to “cajole” and offer “monetary incentives and protection” (in the modern case) and “flatter” and offer “many honors and much glory” (in the historic case).  All that the Christians need do is speak some words, the Kalma, and become Muslim.

3)      When the Christians still refuse, the Muslims fly into a savage rage, beating and torturing their victims to death (in the modern case, the Muslims assumed they had killed their victims).

Considering the Ottoman Empire and contemporary Pakistan are separated by culture, language, and some 500 years, how does one explain these identical patterns?  What binds them together?

Only Islam—Islam empowered, Islam in charge; Muslim majorities governing, and thus abusing their non-Muslim minority.  A fact of life, past and present.

  • adam apple

    Yep 2 "examples" from a history spanning 1500 years should suffice to convince the readers of this silly article.

    Raymond Ibrahim certainly knows how to insult the intellect of his readers.

    • guest

      if you could read arabic you could find millions of examples where whole cities were tortured; males beheaded women raped and children taken for slavery by savage hordes simply because the inhabitants were not moslems. you can also find historical accounts in english and other languages.

      • Amar

        Rape, Killing and Barbarity was the rule of the game up until the last few centuries in the world. Islam's claim to fame for this is relatively less than what happened during those times. Napoleon for instance ordered that a large part of the Ottoman prisoners (according to some sources around 2,440, according to others 4,100[1]), many of them Albanians, be shot or stabbed to death with bayonets, in the siege of Jaffa

      • bill

        Your an idiot where the heck are you getting MILLIONS! In conquered land the muslims let christians worship and jew,muslims and christians studied together on the subject of philosophy. By the way what is a moslem! Spelled wrong! In so tired of ignorant americans thinking they know history or religions.

        • intrcptr2

          No, bill, moslem is an acceptable variant spelling, based on the fact that Arabic does not depict all the vowels, which renders many of them fluid in regional dialects.

          And again, no, bill, dhimmis did not hang out together in coffee shops discussing high minded things with Muslims. They argued these things amongst themselves, but no self-respecting Muslim would deign to such things. Go find a good book, and take some reading lessons before trying to delve into it.

          Or better yet, go take a nap, maybe when you awake you won't be so ignorant…

  • Magdy Mustafah

    One doesn't even need to read Arabic; cursory knowledge of Islam's history is enough to know that forced conversions were, and are, a mainstay of the religion. I see Ibrahim's point as showing two identical approaches from regions that share nothing in common, not even era, except for Islam.

  • hameed

    Your narrative of a Muslim army coming,pillaging,raping and threatening every one to submit to islam ,falls flat on your face..'
    Take the example of syria,After Muslims became the rulers,for close to 500 hundred years,syria was a still christian majority much for forced conversion !!!

    • bill

      A last the truth! Thanks

  • Perseveranze

    Sounds like a troll article, if you actually compare any "forced" conversions with other faiths, such as Christianity, you'd find Islam's conquest have been regarded by many historians as the most "merciful".

    "The question of why people convert to Islam has always generated intense feeling. Earlier generations of European scholars believed that conversions to Islam were made at the point of the sword, and that conquered peoples were given the choice of conversion or death. It is now apparent that conversion by force, while not unknown in Muslim countries, was, in fact, rare. Muslim conquerors ordinarily wished to dominate rather than convert, and most conversions to Islam were voluntary. (…) In most cases worldly and spiritual motives for conversion blended together. Moreover, conversion to Islam did not necessarily imply a complete turning from an old to a totally new life. While it entailed the acceptance of new religious beliefs and membership in a new religious community, most converts retained a deep attachment to the cultures and communities from which they came."[7] – Ira Lapidus

    The Quran is also more clear on "forced conversion" then any other ancient scripture around –

    “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth is distinct from error!” (Quran, 2:256)

    “And if your Lord had pleased, surely all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them; will you then force men till they become believers?” (Quran, 10:99)

    “And had God willed, He could have made you all one [religious] community, but He sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. But you shall certainly be called to account for what you (yourself) used to do [i.e. not what others used to do].” (Quran, 16:93)

    “The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe and let him who please disbelieve.” (Quran, 18:29)

    “Exhort them to believe; your task is only to exhort. You cannot compel them to believe.” (Quran, 88:21-22)

    “Those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor guide them to the Way.” (Quran, 4:137)

    @Article maker – Please try harder next time, or atleast hope that your readers aren't educated :)

    • Magdy Mustafah


    • Ronald W. Carnine

      You've pointed out many of the verses in the Koran about not using forced conversions, however as Paul Harvey used to say, "Now, for the rest of the story. When Osama Bin Laden sent a video to the West it was a call for conversion to Islam. That is all that is needed under Islamic Law. From that point on conversion to Islam is not considered forced. If an enemy surrenders to a Muslim army before fighting, he was spared. If not he most likely will lose his head unless he converts to Islam. Then and only then is he spared. Your history is suspect and does not fall in line with the earliest biographies of Mohammed. You must also consider the hadith to get the full story. The warfare of this time was brutal, both sides would be guilty of extreme brutality now, but then it was not so. Saladin is touted as merciful and on an occasion or two he was. The rest of the time, not so much. The men were executed and the women and children sold into slavery. This of course was after the women were raped or held by Muslim soldiers as sex slaves. If being conquered by Islamic armies was so much better than being conquered by Christian armies was so terrible, why the mass immigration of people (especially Christians) out of Islamic territory? Read Bat Yeor's work on the decimation of Christian populations living under Islam.

      • Perseveranze

        "If an enemy surrenders to a Muslim army before fighting, he was spared."

        Again, your lying. It was become Muslim, fight or pay the Jizya. Those who decided to pay Jizya (which was light) had automatically made a contract with Muhammad(pbuh) and God. This meant that they could practice their religion in peace, and the Muslims were now obliged to take care of them, including the fact that if the country was invaded by enemies, the non-Muslims could just sit back, relax, whilst the Muslims had to fight. Unlike in secular society today, the Non-Muslims were allowed to even follow their own legal systems, their own courts (didn't have to choose Muslim court if they didn't want), and the rules of the majority didn't apply to them.

        Also this "tax", was not imposed on; the sick, the elderly, women, children, monks, hermits, slaves and the poor. Only the adult, healthy, young, with good income would pay.

        So watch this and get your facts right.

        "Saladin is touted as merciful and on an occasion or two he was. The rest of the time, not so much."

        I laughed, you have no clue about Salahudin. Saladin is regarded today by everyone as the most chivelrous leader in history. The biggest critism against him is that he was "too kind" to the enemy.

        He was the difference between Islam and Christianity, where the Christians mercilessly massacred innocents, Salahudin liberated them. In fact, he gave Christians more rights then Christians could give themselves.

        "This of course was after the women were raped or held by Muslim soldiers as sex slaves."

        Again, keep up with your lies, your only fooling the stupid, who I don't really care about. I will mention the following though –

        Imam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

        In our view the man who rapes a woman, whether she is a virgin or not, if she is a free woman he must pay a “dowry” like that of her peers, and if she is a slave he must pay whatever has been detracted from her value. The punishment (execution) is to be carried out on the rapist and there is no punishment for the woman who has been raped, whatever the case. End quote.

        "If being conquered by Islamic armies was so much better than being conquered by Christian armies was so terrible, why the mass immigration of people (especially Christians) out of Islamic territory?"

        This happened only within the last 100 or so years, when the Islamic state was in decline, when the leaders were sell-outs, corrupt, where they fought for power alone and not liberation, freedom or God. That is a false example and certainly doesn't reflect the false history.

        Christianity on the other hand, persecuted Jews and Christian sects for generations, it was only after the Church/state had to forcibly be seperated was finally any ounce of freedom allowed.

        "Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has protected the Jews for fifty generations, while the Christian world persecuted the Jews and tried many times ‘by the sword’ to get them to abandon their faith." [Uri Avnery, Jewish Writer]

    • Ronald W. Carnine

      Dear Perseveranze, I want to address your response in at least two areas: first, where in my response to you was I rude or unkind? Yet, if one reads your response it sounds like you are angry and bitter. You repeatedly call me a liar. I am not. If I am wrong so be it, but that does not make me a liar. How is it you cannot discuss this article w/o being ugly. That is a sure give-a-way that you are uncertain about your answers. Does your religion teach you that you can speak to others so disrespectfully? And 2nd: having sex with a captured slave girl is not considered rape so none of the verses have any bearing. Also you list three things that must be considered before a muslim can respond in a "defensive" war. 1. Call to conversion, 2. Payment of jizya, 3. feel humiliated and willing to obey requirements of Islam. But these three things have to do with a conquered people not warriors captured in battle. Was Saladin (common spelling) too merciful? I'm not going to list all of his atrocities but the battle of Hattim is a good example,, he personally executed the captured soldiers and then sat and watched while his men beheaded the rest. Even at the battle of Jerusalem he let half the defenders go but only after the payment of ransom. The other half, were killed on his orders. Your claim that he was too merciful doesn't fit with the facts. To claim the Muslim armies were more merciful than Christian armies is pure fiction. Also you failed to answer my inquiry about the "emptying" of conquered lands (which you failed to mention that Syria was a predominately Christian nation. Even today, Christians are fleeing because of the treatment at the hands of Muslims. I take it you've never read Bat Yeor's book on life as a conquered people you need to read it. I would also recommend you read Rodney Stark "God's Battalions; The Case for the Crusades. As for the writer who claimed hundreds of conversion since 9/11 and tried to say this was conversion w/o compulsion how do you figure that? Almost 3000 died that day and the conversions followed that. Since I don't know where you got your numbers I leave it at that for now. Sorry it took this long to answer your points, I was gone most of yesterday.

      • Perseveranze

        And your complaining that Salahudin beheaded these terrible scum? I lol'd, even today, such war crimes would never go unpunished.

        " Saladin captured Raynald de Châtillon and was personally responsible for his execution in retaliation for his attacking Muslim caravans. The members of these caravans had, in vain, besought his mercy by reciting the truce between the Muslims and the Crusaders, but he ignored this and insulted their prophet Muhammad before murdering and torturing a number of them. Upon hearing this, Saladin swore an oath to personally execute Raynald.[85]"

        "Your claim that he was too merciful doesn't fit with the facts. To claim the Muslim armies were more merciful than Christian armies is pure fiction."

        Again, you lie. Anyone who does their research can come to a very simple and obvious conclusion.

        "Despite the Crusaders' slaughter when they originally conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Saladin granted amnesty and free passage to all common Catholics and even to the defeated Christian army, as long as they were able to pay the aforementioned ransom (the Greek Orthodox Christians were treated even better, because they often opposed the western Crusaders)."

        What an embarrassment, that your enemy gives more rights and more freedoms then you could give your own religious people. That was Salahudin.

        Furthermore, what Leader does this? –

        "In April 1191, a Frankish woman's three month old baby had been stolen from her camp and had been sold on the market. The Franks urged her to approach Saladin herself with her grievance. According to Bahā' al-Dīn, Saladin used his own money to buy the child back:
        He gave it to the mother and she took it; with tears streaming down her face, and hugged it to her breast. The people were watching her and weeping and I (Ibn Shaddad) was standing amongst them. She suckled it for some time and then Saladin ordered a horse to be fetched for her and she went back to camp.[103]"

        "A Knight without fear or blame who often had to teach his opponents the right way to practice chivalry." -An inscription written by Kaiser Wilhelm II on a wreath he laid on Saladin's Tomb.[92]

        "It is equally true that his generosity, his piety, devoid of fanaticism, that flower of liberality and courtesy which had been the model of our old chroniclers, won him no less popularity in Frankish Syria than in the lands of Islam." René Grousset (writer)[92]

        "Even today, Christians are fleeing because of the treatment at the hands of Muslims."

        Lol, no Muslim is argueing our current leaders aren't corrupt. That's why we want Salahudin's, not the current, western puppet crap we got.

        " I take it you've never read Bat Yeor's book on life as a conquered people you need to read it."

        Why would I read the work of someone who isn't even an academic LOL, who's been heavily critised as biased and unintelligent.

        Atleast now I know where you get your stupidity from.

        "In a review of The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude the American historian Robert Brenton Betts commented that the book dealt with Judaism at least as much as with Christianity, that the title was misleading and the central premise flawed. He said: "The general tone of the book is strident and anti-Muslim. This is coupled with selective scholarship designed to pick out the worst examples of anti-Christian behavior by Muslim governments, usually in time of war and threats to their own destruction (as in the case of the deplorable Armenian genocide of 1915). Add to this the attempt to demonize the so-called Islamic threat to Western civilization and the end-product is generally unedifying and frequently irritating."[35]"

        "According to journalist Adi Schwartz from Haaretz, the fact that she is not an academic and has never taught at any university, but has worked as an independent researcher, has, along with her opinions, made her a controversial figure. He quotes professor Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, who notes that "[u]p until the 1980s, she was not accepted at all. In academic circles they scorned her publications."[38]"

        "Craig R. Smith in a New York Times article referred to her as one of the "most extreme voices on the new Jewish right."[39]"

      • Perseveranze

        "As for the writer who claimed hundreds of conversion since 9/11 and tried to say this was conversion w/o compulsion how do you figure that?"

        Uh, it's fact –

        Conversions alone makes Islam the fastest growing religion in the world.

        "According to Guinness Book of World Records, Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion by number of conversions each year: Although the religion began in Arabia, by 2002 80% of all believers in Islam lived outside the Arab world. In the period 1990-2000, approximately 12.5 million more people converted to Islam than to Christianity.[27]"


        "Almost 3000 died that day and the conversions followed that."

        Guess how many people died in Iraq/Afghanistan, over 2million. But you don't care about that now do you?

      • Perseveranze

        READ THIS FIRST (got the order mixed up)

        "first, where in my response to you was I rude or unkind?"

        I never said you were, I said you lied, which is fact.

        "Does your religion teach you that you can speak to others so disrespectfully?"

        Nope, unlike your religion, my religion actually says –

        {And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy} [Quran 17:53]

        "Was Saladin (common spelling) too merciful?"

        This question is an insult to years of academic and historical research, if Salahudin was one thing, then that was truly that he was merciful. Even more so than leaders today.

        "he personally executed the captured soldiers and then sat and watched while his men beheaded the rest."

        This was because they raided caravans, full of innocent people, who tried to protest and beg for mercy but were never given it. Their leader then insulted them, their religion and the prophet Muhammad(pbuh).

        • Ronald W. Carnine

          Well, I tried to talk respectfully to you which obviously isn't going to work. !st, if you haven't read the book don't knock it. It is well documented. Quoting the NY Times doesn't help your case at all. The idea that Christians were beheaded because they raided caravans is ironic. Have you never read the history where Mohammed got his start by raiding caravans. Your statement of 2 million deaths is pure baloney. How many innocents have been killed by Muslim rulers? How come the US has to save Kuwait from another Muslim country? If you are going to claim to be an investigator you must read both sides of an issue otherwise you are just spouting propaganda. Anyway "there are none so blind as those who will not see". I still suggest that you read God's Battalions by Rodney Stark. It will help you see the other side of the issue. If you think I haven't read the Muslim side, the last two books I read were a very well written copy of the Koran (with extensive footnotes by Muhammed Asad. I was so impressed (this Koran was sent to me by CAIR) that I also read "The Road to Mecca" a autobiography by the same man. I leave you with his words: "The Arabia depicted in the following pages no longer exists. Its solitude and integrity have crumbled under a strong gush of oil and the gold that the oil has brought. Its great simplicity has vanished and with it,and much that was humanly unique." I do wish you well.

    • Bill

      Great truthful history for once. People should see PBS's documentary "Islam Empire of Faith" explained with several HISTORIANS!

  • Fred

    Hahaha this is such a biased article! The article just OOZES bias.

    By the way, your story of the forced conversion doesn't really ring true.

    I surely pray for all those reading it! I have print-screened and forwarded to several publishers. Thanks

  • Friend of Peace

    Your are doing injustice to humanity by spreading these lies. Here's a latest report from the Daily Mail, dated October 5, 2011.

    More than 100000 educated and civilised people converted to Islam since Sept11, 2011, in the UK alone. This without the use of any force, bribe or compulsion of any kind. All this while the Media, the newspapers, the preachers and the politicians are busy trying to demonize Islam and the muslims.

    This should suffice for people of understanding. Islam is the Light from God. You will never be able to blot it out. You are only misleading the fools. Give up.

    • Friend of Peace

      Apologies for the typo. The conversions count is since Sept 11, 2001 and not 2011.

    • Bill

      Absolutly right and because I'm one of them. Robert Spencer is no scholar of Islam. He only has 1 master degree in Early Christian Studies. No study in Islamic jurisprudence either. A scholar without a PHD. AND HAVING NOT WRITTEN ESSAYS evaluated by academia ! Read people and investigate yourselves.

      • Ronald W. Carnine

        Dear Bill, your idea that the only experts of Islam are those who degrees are nonsense. Many of the Mullahs don't have degrees. One of the best western historical fiction writers was Louis La'mour. He (if I remember right) didn't have a high school degree let alone a b.s., m.s. or Dr. yet I don't think either you or I could hold a candle to his knowledge of the history behind his novels. Reading his "Memoirs" is an education into what real education is. Without a doubt he is an "expert" in whatever area he wrote about. The same is true of Mr. Spencer. If you think he is wrong, prove it, but don't reject him just because you he only has 1 master's degree. By the way, getting a legitimate master's degree is no small feat. I spent seven years of my life getting my degrees and it wasn't easy.

  • Laila

    "Islam’s Uninterrupted History of Forced Conversions"


    SERIOUSLY!!! Dude your hatred toward Islam and Muslims is getting out of control,you seriously need help ASAP!!!

  • Jhn

    Its funny how so many on here are defending Islam, yet there is internal chaos in every Muslim country… People being killed by their own people daily. Islam has forced conversions from the very beginning. You really cant take the "Arabian" scholars too seriously about anything as they are the same ones who say Israel has no connection to Judea, Samaria or any of Israel…Or that the Holocaust never existed. How credible are people who say such things?

  • Maria

    All Muslims who posted their comments here just used taqqiyya, lia to promote Islam.
    Mohamed said "War is deception". No surprise that we see the most Muslim lies and consider that as their glory. Stop history, look what's going on now in the world. Remeber Darfur where hundred thousand Christians were slaughtered by Muslim? Why is in Bethlehem, in Hebron where was Christians majority is now tiny minority?
    The same is in Lebanon. Muslim immigration must be stopped.

  • brtzg

    Mohammed's sayings for "no compulsion" occurred in the early days when he was weak and tryng to persuade people to convert. When he gathered a strong army, the conversions were either accepted or the people died.

    2:193 – And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion sould be only for Allah.

  • T Maliki

    I'd like all the pro-islamists to swap places with the Copts in Egypt at the moment. Or swap with the black Africans in Darfur. Or go back in time and swap with the Christian and non-Muslim arab tribes that were wiped out by Muslims.

    Or perhaps remember that the options in Islam are convert, pay Jizya and be treated like a second-class citizen, submitting to beatings, plundering of your goods and raping of your female family members, or you could just die…Oh, and don't leave Islam either or try and turn someone from following a man with an 8 year old wife – you'll die for that too (Surah 4).

  • sod

    Apparently 'Christians' and Muslims have both done terrible stuffs in history. But honest people would say that those 'Christians' did that because of men's sin, while Muslims did that because of Islam's teaching.

    When it comes to modern times, we can hardly hear Christians do any horrible anti-humanity stuff, but Muslims are still continuing their cruel ancient Islam practice. It should not be that difficult for a regular person to tell the differences between Christianity and Islam.

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