No compulsion in religion
There is no compulsion in religion is the beginning of the 256th verse of the Koran of the second sura . The verse is considered the locus classicus in discussions about religious tolerance in Islam and has beeninterpreted differentlyin both classical and modern Koran exegesis . Its original meaning as well as its later interpretation havebeen discussed several timesin Islamic studies .
The passage reads:
« لَآ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ »
"Lā ikrāha fī d-dīn"
"In religion there is no coercion (i.e. one cannot force anyone to believe)."
In the following verse of the same sura it says:
« اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَٰتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَآؤُهُمُ الطَّٰغُوتُ »
"Allāhu walīyu llaḏīna āmanū yaḫriǧuhum mina ẓ-ẓulumāti ilā n-nūr wa-llaḏīna kafarū awliyāʾuhumu ṭ-ṭāġūt"
“God is the friend of those who are believers. He brings them out of the darkness into the light. But the unbelievers have idols as friends ... "
One of the most important scientific disciplines of Islamic Koran exegesis represents the historical occasions that led to the revelation of verses from the Koran: asbab an-nuzul /أسباب النزول / asbāb an-nuzūl / 'the reasons of revelation'. Its origins go back to the late 7th century and are also part of the prophetic biography of Ibn Ishaq , al-Waqidi and other authorities in Islamic historiography about the time of prophecy.
These sources report that the Aus Medinan tribe in pre-Islamic times entrusted their children to families of the local Jewish tribes, especially the Banu Nadir and Banu Quraiza, for economic reasons. A milk relationship between Jews - through a Jewish nurse - and the sons of the Arab tribes of Medina, who gradually adopted Islam, was also not uncommon.
According to older sources, At-Tabarī reports in his exegesis of the Koran that women of Arab origin who had no children used to take the oath to have a son brought up in a Jewish way when a son was born. “When the Banu an-Nadir (from Medina to Khaibar ) were driven out, there were sons of the Ansar among them . They (i.e. the Ansar) then said, 'We do not give up our sons.' Then it was revealed: (Sur. 2,256). "
One of the oldest Koran exegetes, Mujāhid ibn Jabr († 722), reports: “Between the Banu an-Nadir and the Banu Aus there were milk siblings. When the Prophet ordered the expulsion (the Banu an-Nadir), the Aus sons said, 'We will go with them and join their religion.' However, their families prevented them and forced them to accept Islam (wa-akrahū-hum ʿalā l-islām). This verse was then revealed about them (sura 2, verse 256). ”Those sons of the Ansar who wanted to stay with their Jewish families went with them to Chaibar; others converted to Islam.
The description of the background for the revelation of the Quranic verse above was also included in the canonical collections of traditions : Abū Dāwūd as-Sidschistānī mentions it in his "Kitab as-sunan".
Both the Koran exegesis and the Islamic historiography record further reasons for the revelation of the Koran verse dealt with here:
- Two sons of a certain Abu l-Husain are said to have become Christians after their contacts with Syrian merchants and emigrated to Syria. Her father asked Mohammed to have his sons brought back; the prophet is said to have recited the Quranic verse. In this regard, the exegetes note that this took place at a time when the fight against the owners of the scriptures - the Jews and Christians - had not yet been ordered (by God).
- In a further episode, not the reason for the revelation, but the verse itself is updated: Umar ibn al-Chattab is said to have asked an old Christian to Islam, but she refused to convert because of her advanced age. Umar then recited the Quranic verse.
- The verse refers to prisoners of war who were neither Christians nor Jews, but Zoroastrians or idolaters. Since they would be useless as pagans in the possession of a Muslim, they could be forced into the religion of whoever captured them. Minor prisoners of war have no religion anyway and could be forced to Islam.
In view of different representations of the reasons for revelation, the verse can hardly be assigned to one of the historical situations mentioned above. “Because the principle,” - according to Theodor Nöldeke - “that no compulsion should be exercised when converting to Islam (v. 257), could just as well be established in times of deepest emotional depression as in those of highest certainty of victory. Incidentally, in the Medinan period such a statement was not of great importance in practice, since here, in addition to purely religious propaganda, the policy aimed at recognizing the rule came to the fore. "
Interpretation in the Islamic exegesis of the Koran and jurisprudence
Muslim Koran and legal scholars have developed different interpretations of this verse. The common interpretations in classical Koranic exegesis can be divided into the following three groups:
- Some exegetes saw the verse as abrogated : originally it had general validity, but was later abolished by 9:73 with regard to the polytheists and by 9:29 with regard to the owners of the scriptures . According to numerous other traditions, the verse was abrogated by 9: 5.
- Other exegetes took the view that the verse refers exclusively to the scripture owners who, as dhimmis, paid the jizya and were therefore allowed to remain in their old religion; the polytheists of the Arabian Peninsula were excluded from this rule.
- Another common interpretation was that the verse was revealed in Medina in relation to a purely historical event . Thus, it was not formally abrogated, but simply lost its relevance, since such a situation will no longer occur.
Some eighth-century exegetes, such as Abu'l Khaṭṭāb Qatāda ibn Diʿāma († ~ 735), tried to prove by reference to the verse that in addition to Jews, Christians and Sabians , non-Arab pagans and followers of Zoroastrianism were also entitled to to remain in their old religion through the dhimma , although they did not belong to any book religion .
Muslim jurists understood in this verse an invitation to guarantee the dhimmis a certain degree of tolerance without questioning the primacy of Islam and the supremacy of Muslims. It should be noted in this context that the jurists' interpretations reflect a more precise picture of how Muslim rulers and their administrators - who had adopted the jurists' interpretation of this verse - treated their subjects than the commentators' interpretations.
Muslim scholars have countered the accusations that emerged in Europe in the wake of European colonialism that Islam is intolerant of other religions. In an attempt to refute the arguments of the European criticism of Islam, they have interpreted the verse - contrary to classical interpretations - as an unlimited call for religious tolerance. Because of this, they have rejected the thesis found in the classical exegesis of earlier scholars that the verse was abrogated . Accordingly, the thesis (the sword verse abrogates all other suras) is not represented by a single exegete at the present time. Many modern exegetes - such as the late Grand Sheikh of Azhar University Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi - have also adopted the Mu'tazilite interpretation in the sense that, in their opinion, it is impossible and, accordingly, forbidden to convert people by force.
The Tunisian Koran exegete Ibn Āshūr (1879–1970) interprets the verse as follows: It was revealed at the time after the conquest of Mecca 630 and abrogates all verses and sayings of the prophets , according to which the aim of the war is the conversion of the combatants. Since the revelation of this verse, the aim of the war has changed in such a way that it is no longer conversion, but submission of the oppressed and their acceptance of Islamic dominance. The Syrian scholar al-Qāsimī (1866–1914) took a similar point of view.
Islamist Qur'an commentators tend to interpret the verse as a prohibition on forcing Muslims to convert to another religion.
Discussion in Research
Rudi Paret explains that the pagan Arabs only had the choice between conversion to Islam and death. For these reasons, the verse probably have - contrary to the generally popular interpretation - originally does not mean that you can not force anyone to believe could , but nobody force you can . This is all the more likely when one considers the content of verse 99 of the tenth sura:
"... if your Lord wanted, those who are on earth would all believe together (or: if your Lord had wanted, those who are on earth would have believed all together). Do you now want to force people to believe? "
In his remarks in this regard, Paret emphasizes that the principle of religious tolerance has prevailed throughout the Islamic world and still sees the prohibition of coercion in matters of faith as a principle of Islamic teaching. Historically, too, according to Paret, the verse was interpreted to mean that the so-called owners of the script were not allowed to force them to accept Islam. Whoever agrees with the above interpretation of the verse ...
“... therefore need not simply throw overboard the long-established interpretation of the saying lā ikrāha fī d-dīni . The commitment to religious tolerance is very much in place in today's world of Islam. (...) Only one will have to remain aware of the fact that in the early days of Islam different conditions prevailed in some respects than they are today, and that the conditions for general and complete religious tolerance were not given at that time. "
Tilman Nagel argues that this verse is not a commandment to freedom of religion, but a prohibition against belonging to paganism. Neither in other verses of the Koran, nor in the hadith tradition, nor in the traditions of the biography of Mohammed, one can find any references to such a command. According to Nagel, with this verse the Koran does not offer the free choice of any religion, but the freedom of ritual practice within Islam.
Research does not rule out that Paret's interpretation of the verse can be correct. Hartmut Bobzin notes that “ it cannot be decided with certainty from the context ” whether “ the sentence is to be understood as an imperative ('there must be no compulsion') or as a rather resigned statement ('there can be no compulsion') ". In return, however, it is pointed out that - according to the British Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis - in the legal and theological tradition of Islam this verse was interpreted in such a way that other religions are to be tolerated and that no one should be forced to convert to Islam. This is also confirmed by the American orientalist Mark R. Cohen. Correspondingly, Adel Theodor Khoury notes in relation to this verse:
“This principle is the foundation of Islamic tolerance in matters of belief and religious practice. The Islamic tradition has understood this verse as a prohibition to force people to believe, not only as a statement that no one but God can force people to believe. "
Similarly, Norman A. Stillman argues that it is irrelevant whether this verse is a call to tolerance or an expression of resignation, since both interpretations would lead to the same thing. With regard to Paret's interpretation of the verse, Yohanan Friedmann emphasizes that the verse could be used throughout Islamic history to religiously underpin tolerance towards other religions and is also used in the present to prove the idea of tolerance in Islam.
Ignaz Goldziher explains that the tolerance granted to other religions in the early days of Islam and the development of Islamic law was supported by sura 2, verse 256 in the instructions for the Muslim generals about the treatment of the subject populations. In later times, by referring to the verse, the apostasy from the Islamic faith, for which classical Islamic law normally provides for the death penalty, was legitimized by those originally forced to convert to Islam.
- Patricia Crone : "'No Compulsion in Religion' Q 2: 256 in medieval and modern interpretation" in MA Amir-Moezzi , Meir M. Bar-Asher, Simon Hopkins (eds.): Le shīʿisme imāmite quarante ans après: hommage à Etan Kohlberg. Brepols, Turnhout, 2009. pp. 131-178. Digitized
- Selim Deringil: "There Is No Compulsion in Religion": On Conversion and Apostasy in the Late Ottoman Empire: 1839-1856 "in: Comparative Studies in Society and History 42: 3 (Jul. 2000) 547-575.
- Frank Griffel : Apostasy and Tolerance in Islam. Brill, Leiden 2000.
- Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. pp. 87-120 ISBN 0-521-82703-5
- Rudi Paret : Lā ikrāha fī d-dīni: Tolerance or Resignation? In: Islam . Vol. 45 (1969). P. 299 f.
- Rudi Paret (Ed.): The Koran . (Paths of Research; Vol. 326. Darmstadt, 1975). Pp. 306-308. ISBN 3-534-05465-2
- Christine Schirrmacher : "There is no compulsion in religion" (Sura 2: 256): The apostasy from Islam in the judgment of contemporary Islamic theologians. Discourses on apostasy, religious freedom and human rights. Ergon, Würzburg, 2015.
- Patricia Crone : " Islam and Religious Freedom (PDF file; 135 kB)", lecture at the thirtieth German Orientalist Day in Freiburg im Breisgau, 24.-28. September 2007
- Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 94
- See below
- See below
- Andrew Rippin: The exegetical genre asbāb al-nuzūl: a bibliographical and terminological survey. In: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS), XLVIII (1), (1985), pp. 1-15
- Michael Lecker: 'Amr ibn Ḥazm al-Anṣārī and Qurʾān 2, 256: “No Compulsion is there in Religion”. In: Oriens 35 (1996). P. 62 and note 29; P. 64, note 35; Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 101
- Michael Lecker: 'Amr ibn Ḥazm al-Anṣārī and Qurʾān 2, 256: “No Compulsion is there in Religion”. In: Oriens 35 (1996), p. 62. and note 29; P. 64, note 35.
- Michael Lecker: 'Amr ibn Ḥazm al-Anṣārī and Qurʾān 2, 256: “No Compulsion is there in Religion”. In: Oriens 35 (1996), p. 63, note 34.
- Michael Lecker: 'Amr ibn Ḥazm al-Anṣārī and Qurʾān 2, 256: “No Compulsion is there in Religion”. In: Oriens 35 (1996). P. 63 (after at-Tabari) and note 34 with further sources
- Michael Lecker: 'Amr ibn Ḥazm al-Anṣārī and Qurʾān 2, 256: “No Compulsion is there in Religion”. In: Oriens 35 (1996). P. 63, note 34. See Abu Dawud: Kitab as-Sunan , Book 14, No. 2676 ( Memento of the original of February 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .
- Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 101
- Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 114 based on a student of Mālik ibn Anas in the commentary on the Koran by the Andalusian exegete al-Qurtubi ; see also a summary on p. 120
- Theodor Nöldeke: History of the Qorāns . 2nd edition edited by Friedrich Schwally. Part One: On the Origin of the Qorān. Leipzig, 1909. p. 184
- See Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 102 and the literature cited there
- Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. pp. 103 f.
- Lecture by Patricia Crone , p. 2 (see web links ): " Another solution was to say that the verse had been revealed in Medina in connection with some problems of purely historical relevance (...) This interpretation tied the verse to a unique historical situation. It hadn't been formally abrogated, it just had no relevance any more, for no situation like that could arise again. "
- Patricia Crone: Medieval Islamic Political Thought . Edinburgh University Press, 2005. pp. 379 f.
- Bernard Lewis: Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East . Open Court Publishing, 2002. p. 272
- Bernard Lewis: The Jews in the Islamic World: From the Early Middle Ages to the 20th Century . Beck, 2004. p. 24
- Lecture by Patricia Crone, p. 5 (see web links ): " … whereas the early exegetes had to interpret the 'no compulsion' verse restrictively, the twentieth-century exegetes had to widen its meaning again, to read it as a universal declaration of religious freedom ... "
- Lecture by Patricia Crone, p. 5 (see web links ): " ... nobody, absolutely nobody says that it is abrogated anymore, not even the most conservative Saudis ... "
- Lecture by Patricia Crone, p. 6 (see web links ): " From the 1940s onwards you see one exegete after another adapt the two Mu'tazilite arguments along those modernist lines. (…) Modern exegetes will often add that it isn't possible to convert people by force, meaning that therefore it is prohibited ...
- Yohanan Friedmann: Tolerance and Coercion in Islam. Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition . Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 103
- in the lecture by Patricia Crone, pp. 6–8 (see web links )
- Rudi Paret: Sura 2, 256: lā ikrāha fī d-dīni. Tolerance or resignation? In: Islam . Vol. 45. Berlin, 1969. p. 299
- Rudi Paret: Sura 2, 256: lā ikrāha fī d-dīni. Tolerance or resignation? In: Islam . Vol. 45. Berlin, 1969. pp. 299–300: “Perhaps the saying lā ikrāha fī d-dīni did not originally mean that no one should be coerced in questions of faith, but rather that no one (through the mere Proclamation of religious truth) could exert such compulsion. "
- Rudi Paret: Mohammed and the Koran. History and proclamation of the Arab prophet . Kohlhammer, 2001. p. 153: “ We (...) can even appeal to the Islamic principle that no coercion should be exercised in faith. "
- Rudi Paret: Sura 2, 256: lā ikrāha fī d-dīni. Tolerance or resignation? In: Islam . Vol. 45. Berlin, 1969. p. 300
- Tilman Nagel: The untimely power of Sharia Islam . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , February 5, 2008: “In fact, it is said in this verse that since the preaching of Islam has separated the truth from the lie, perseverance in paganism is no longer permissible, especially since 'in the ( The practice of faith propagated by Mohammed does not contain any compulsion to conduct ritual acts directed against human nature. Mohammed is thinking of the strict dietary laws of the Jews and the monasticism of Christians (compare Sura 4 , 160 and Sura 57 , 27). Sura 2, verse 256 does not say that there is no compulsion to practice a certain faith. "
- Tilman Nagel: Fighting to Final Triumph. About violence in Islam . Neue Zürcher Zeitung , November 25, 2006
- Hartmut Bobzin: The Koran: retransmitted from the Arabic . CH Beck, 2010. p. 627
- Bernard Lewis: The Jews in the Islamic World: From the Early Middle Ages to the 20th Century . Beck, 2004. p. 22. See also Bernard Lewis, Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East . Open Court Publishing, 2002. p. 272 and the same: Die Anger der Arabischen Welt . Campus Verlag, 2004. p. 66: "According to Sharia law, tolerance of religions based on written revelation is not a mere favor, but a duty (" There is no compulsion to believe. "Koran 2: 256)."
- Mark R. Cohen: Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages . Princeton University Press, 1994. p. 55: “While it may be true that the verse was meant only descriptively - that it was unrealistic to expect naturally obdurate unbelievers to convert to Islam - later Muslims took the text as prescription for religious tolerance and pluralism . "
- Adel Theodor Khoury: What does the Koran say about holy war? Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2007. p. 61
- Norman A. Stillman: The Jews of Arab Lands. A History and Source Book . The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979. p. 76, note 41
- Ignaz Goldziher: Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law . Published by Bernard Lewis. Translated by Andras and Ruth Hamori. Princeton University Press, 1981. p. 33
- See apostasy in Islam
- Ignaz Goldziher: Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law . Princeton University Press, 1981. p. 33. Goldziher refers here, among other things, to Maimonides , who, according to a report by the Arabic writer ibn al-Qifti († 1248), was forced to convert to Islam shortly before moving from Spain. In Egypt, as the head of the local Jewish community, he is said to have been accused of apostasy from Islam. He was acquitted, however, because the forced practice of Islam was not valid under Islamic law and thus the offense of apostasy did not exist. Today's Maimonides research often denies the credibility of this account; see. e.g. Herbert A. Davidson: Maimonides , Oxford University Press, 2005, especially pp. 17ff, 509ff.