"We see no example during Muhammad's lifetime in which he ever compelled anyone in matters of religion. He championed freedom of religion, and it is the duty of every living and breathing Muslim today to do so as well."
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Source/Credit: Demystifying Islam
By Harris Zafar | October 16, 2014
Book Excerpt Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions by Harris Zafar
The most fundamental verse in the Quran in regard to freedom of religion comes in chapter 2, when it declares, "There is no compulsion in religion. Surely, the right way has become distinct from error." The Quran holds firmly to the principle that God has certainly made humans capable of understanding His signs and, thus, distinguishing right from wrong. For this reason, God states very directly—and with no ambiguity—that no compulsion is allowed in matters of religion. He Himself has provided all guidance and clear proofs for the right path, and He has provided humans with the free will to follow that path.
Note that this verse was revealed during the Prophet Muhammad's ministry in Medina, when he was already in a position of authority after being asked by its diverse people to be their head of state. There is immense wisdom in God revealing at that time this instruction that people cannot be compelled in religious matters. Had Muhammad received this revelation in Mecca, some would have had the room to allege that this verse only applied when Muslims were in a weak state, being physically and economically persecuted due to their religion. But Muhammad received this revelation after he had gained a position of authority as a commandment to protect freedom of religion for all people. Consequently, we see no example during Muhammad's lifetime in which he ever compelled anyone in matters of religion. He championed freedom of religion, and it is the duty of every living and breathing Muslim today to do so as well.