Hugh Fitzgerald: Mosque Open House at Texas A&M (Part Three)

The Muslims at the mosque will be happy to explain all the things that Islam shares with Christianity. They will claim — either just before or just after the Five Pillars are discussed — that the root of the word “Islam” means “peace,” confident that no one will contradict them. They will explain what “sura” and “ayat” mean, and how the suras are arranged in the Qur’an. They will offer some dates for the birth, death, and major events — chiefly battles — in the life of Muhammad. Then it’s onto the Qur’an, and the two verses that are always trotted out by apologists for Islam. The first is “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Visitors will take this verse at face value. Why should they question it? They will not know that there is most definitely “compulsion in religion” in Islam for both Muslims and for non-Muslims. For Muslims, the compulsion is to remain in the faith: apostates from Islam can be executed. Muhammad himself said in a hadith: “Whoever changes his [Islamic] religion, kill him.” A possible death sentence for apostasy certainly constitutes “compulsion in religion.” As for non-Muslims, they have three possible options when they live under Muslim rule: death, or conversion to Islam, or the permanent status of dhimmi, which requires them to submit to a host of onerous conditions, including payment of the tax known as the Jizyah, which assures their safety from attacks by Muslims. Many people over the last 1,400 years have chosen to convert to Islam not out of conviction, but in order to escape from those harsh conditions imposed on dhimmis. That pressure to convert constitutes, again, compulsion in religion.

via Hugh Fitzgerald: Mosque Open House at Texas A&M (Part Three)

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