Signs of the Hour

Does Islam Force Non-Muslims to Convert to Islam?

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle


Does Islam force non-Muslims who are not from the People of the Book to convert to Islam?


Thank you for your important question.

Islam is a religion that seeks the good for everyone and shuns bloodshed and brutality. Although there are different opinions on the issue, historically speaking, it is clear that non-Muslims who were not People of the Book were not forced to convert, as was the case of Hindus under Mogul Rule in India.

Fuller Answer

Islam does not command Muslims to kill people just because they are not Muslims. The reason why jihad is legislated is because of military transgression and threat on the part of the non-Muslim country. [Zuhayli, al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu]

For this reason, non-Muslims, whether Jews, Christians, or any other religion, are not forced to convert to Islam, as there is no political difference when dealing with the People of the Book and other religions in the eyes of many relied upon traditional scholars. [Hattab, Mawahib al-Jalil; Zuhayli; al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu]

When the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to dispatch an army, he used to say, “When you meet your pagan enemy, then call them to three things. Whichever of them they concede to, accept it from them and do not harm them. Invite them to Islam, If they decline, then ask them to pay the tribute (jizya). If they concede to it, accept that from them and do not harm them.” [Muslim and Others]

This hadith clearly states a pagan enemy, and that forced conversion is not the only option.

Historically speaking, forced conversions were very seldom practiced. Some Muslim rulers in specific historical periods even discouraged conversion. [Hodgson, The Venture of Islam]

The Pagan Arabs

As for the Arabs of Arabia during the life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him), the majority of scholars do not consider the possibility of peace an option, and that it was literally Islam or the sword.

A deeper look into the early sources shows that there is significant disagreement on the issue and that it is plausible that they were dealt with as any other military threat. [Zuhayli, al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu; Tasfir al-Tabari]

As we have mentioned, there is a sound hadith that indicates that the options given to them are the same as the Jews and the Christians and that it was not an issue of Islam or the sword. [Nawawi, Sharh Muslim; Hattab, Mawahib al Jalil; Zuhayli, al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu]


Both history and the opinions of many traditional scholars attest to the fact that non-Muslims, be they Jews, Christians, or others, are not forced to convert to Islam.

I pray this helps.
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.