The Sweetness of the Sword of Islam

How did Islam spread across the world? Sh ElShinawy ponders over this notion juxtaposed over the Seerah of Al Habib ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam

Thumāma b. Uthāl had killed some of the Companions and even attempted to assassinate the Prophet (ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Eventually, he was captured by Muslim patrolmen as he journeyed to Makkah and was brought to Madinah, where he was fastened to a column in the Prophet’s mosque for three days. When the Prophet (ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) discovered that Thumāma himself – the chief of Banu Hanīfah in al-Yamāma (Persian Gulf) – had been apprehended, he became hopeful in him becoming Muslim and subsequently his entire tribe following suit.

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) ordered the Muslims to treat him well, and asked his own family to bring him food. Each day, the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would pass by him and ask, “What do you have to say for yourself, O Thumāma?” and he would respond each time, “Only that which is good (true), O Muhammad; if you kill me, you would be killing someone that is guilty of bloodshed; but if you will spare me, you would be sparing someone appreciative; if you wish for money, I will give you whatever amount you ask.”

After three days of the same back-and-worth, Thumāma witnessed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) choosing a third option that he could never imagine. He forgave Thumāma and said, “Set him free.” Overtaken by this supreme mercy, whatever hatred still remained in Thumāma’s heart for Islam and Muhammad disintegrated. As soon as he was untied, he walked out, washed up under a palm-tree, and returned to testify that “None is worthy of worship but Allah, and you are the Messenger of Allah”…

He then said, “By Allah, no face on earth was more hated by me than yours, and now your face is the dearest of all to me. No religion on earth was more hated by me than yours, and now your religion is the dearest religion of all to me. No land on earth was more hated by me than yours (Madinah), and now your land is the dearest land of all to me.”

Thumāma raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went onward to Makkah and threatened Quraysh that he would no longer export grains to them until they stopped opposing Muhammad, but the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded him to uplift these inhumane sanctions. (Collected by Muslim, Ahmad and others; authentic)

May Allah be pleased with Thumāma, and salutations and peace be upon the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who transformed a ferocious persecutor into a compassionate servant of God.

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Among the lessons of this hadith is how ludicrous a notion it is that Islam was spread by the sword. Had the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) been sent to other than Arabia, perhaps this would be a bit more believable. Aside from the Prophet’s magnanimous preference for mercy over vengeance, consider the Arabs’ commitment to stubbornness and pride. Thumāma raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) refused to beg or apologize to save his life, but rather said I have blood on my hands so go right ahead if you wish.

Thumāma raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) also refused to ask to be spared unconditionally, but rather said I am a proud chief that can make sparing my life lucrative. Thumāma raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) also refused to embrace Islam while captive, or even upon being untied, but rather waited until he walked out, washed and groomed himself, then returned on his own accord and after refreshing his dignified-chief appearance. A people like this could never be coerced into Islam, at least not the physical violent coercion that may first come to mind.

As for feeling ethically compelled by the Prophet’s character, or emotionally compelled by the Prophet’s magnetic personality, or pragmatically compelled (at first) by the Prophet’s tangible accomplishments, these all happened without question.

“Then would you [O Muhammad] compel the people to become believers?” (10:99)

“Let there be no compulsion in religion, for the truth stands out clearly from falsehood.” {2:256}

Inspired by Shaykh Sa‘īd al-Kamali (may Allah preserve him)

image: Ibn al-Wardi World Map 14th Cent.

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3 responses to “The Sweetness of the Sword of Islam”

  1. Faraz says:

    Subhan Allah!

    Short yet powerful.

    Jazak Allah khair :)

  2. Binte yousuf says:

    Very powerful. JazakhAllah khayr

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