no compulsion

If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe! Qur'an 10:99 (Yusufali)

Donald Sensing, analyzing the gunpoint conversions of the FOX News journalists who were kidnapped in Gaza and then subsequently released, comes to the conclusion that Muslims necessarily accept a forced conversion as valid:

So according to the precepts of Islam, Centanni's and Wiig's confessions were completely valid. Any Muslim, not just their captors, considers it so. That they were uttered "at gunpoint" is unobjectionable. The guns simply enabled the two newsmen to understand that submission to Allah was required of them. Regardless of what Centanni or Wiig may think or believe, Muslims now consider them to be of their religion.

Unfortunately, this interpretation of Islam is driven as much by Sensing's own Christian polemical agenda as it is by any real attempt at understanding the issue of conversions. It is rooted in a false understanding of what the "submission" that is Islam's name means - a deliberate misunderstanding to be sure. It is just as false as a muslim claiming that Christians are polytheists because of the Trinity doctrine.

The truth is that the acceptance of Islam is a purely individual decision. The Shahada (There is no God but God and Mohammed Is His Prophet) is an oath. Sensing portrays this as a submission of slave to master, but in reality it is no different from the oath of citizenship that immigrants take when becoming US citizens.

Whether or not a person is muslim depends solely on whether that person declares it to be so. Since Centanni or Wiig appear to have indicated that they only gave the shahada out of fear for their lives, it's essentially obvious that they are not truly muslim.

This issue also touches on the issues of takfir and of taqqiya. I will leave discussion of the latter to Ali Eteraz (link forthcoming).

UPDATE: a commentator to Sensing's post observes,

the original post did not cite legal opinions, which is what is relevant. It would be as if Rev Sensing tried to guess what Orthodox Jews could eat, by reading Leviticus and speculating, instead of actually consulting a source on Kashrut. Wed get halacha according the school of Sensing, not anything that told us anything about what ANY Jews actually do. Somehow we accept this kind of reasoning wrt Islam, cause of the manifold problems Islam has - and yes, Im quite aware of who and what our enemies are. I also think the threat from Salafist terrorism, and the related threats from Khomeinism and pan-arab nationalism, are serious enough to want to be precise in our investigations of the Islamic world.

Sensing did not cite legal opinions of Islamic jurists nor did he even bother to cite the Qur'an! (I prefaced this post with one verse, myself). I will also point to this court case from Cairo back in February 2006:

Cairo, Egypt - Two young Coptic Christian women whose father had converted to Islam when they were infants have won a court battle in Egypt to retain their official religious identity as Christians.

Now 18 and 19 years old, Iman and Olfat Malak Ayet will be issued national identity cards matching their Christian birth certificates tomorrow.

In the final verdict, presiding Judge Farouk Ali Abdel Kader of Cairo’s District No. 1 Administrative Court declared that the civil authorities had conducted a “non-justified intervention” by imposing upon the two plaintiffs a belief they had not chosen.
Nearly three years ago, the Ayet sisters were surprised to learn that, before his death, their father had changed their identities from Christian to Muslim on government records. The change also left them with new Muslim names.

This is just a single example, obtained from a casual google search, but it serves to rebut Sensing's assertion that the "precepts of Islam" compel muslims to accept forced conversions as valid.


peggy said...

No compulsion in religion...right.

What about the penalty for apostacy? Hmmm?

This is what I call a one way street my friend. There is plenty of compulsion in religion in Islam and it comes from your own most "holy" sources.

When a muslim wants to change their religion they are subject to at minimum arrest and while under arrest they are subject to the most extreme pressure from those who have complete power over them. They are threated with at minimum ruin and the loss of all of their loved ones including their children and spouses. None of their friends will ever talk to them again. They are shunned at the very least and killed at the very worst.

All I see is hot air and a one way street and hyposcrisy when muslims cite this verse. As long as muslims are compelled to remain muslims or face the sort of consequences and ostracization that most normal people could not face there IS plenty of compulsion in islam and plenty of hypocrisy as well.

No compulsion should apply to all equally or else its completely meaningless. The result is a world full of free non-muslims and enslaved muslims who have even the choice to remain muslim negated by the laws that would keep them muslim no matter what they believe.

schlyer said...

It also doesn't say much for the no compulsion argument that this example at the end of your post had to be carried out thru the courts. Why is the government involved in this decision at all if there wasn't at least a bias towards compulsion.