God says in the Qur’an: ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ (al-Baqarah 2:256). The earliest commentaries on the Qur’an (such as that of Al-Tabari) make it clear that some Muslims of Medina wanted to force their children to convert from Judaism or Christianity to Islam, and this verse was precisely an answer to them not to try to force their children to convert to Islam. Moreover, Muslims are also guided by such verses as
Say: The truth is from your Lord; so whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. (al-Kahf 18:29)
Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion (al-Kafirun: 109:1-6).
A brilliant and perhaps forgotten Letter to Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 (the predecessor of Pope Francis) from many leading Islamic scholars challenges some Catholic misconceptions about Islam and forced conversion and so-called “Holy War”. It is perhaps worth looking at again for its wisdom, moderation and impeccable scholarship. Enjoy: