It is a cardinal belief for the Muslims that there is no coercion in the religion of Islam. However, there has been a fallacy spread by those who have a problem with Islam and Muslims, which says that the expansion of Islam was achieved through the use of sword, meaning force. There are many historical evidences, let alone the scriptural ones, which refute that idea. In this context, I will confine with the following statement of a Christian missionary, Sir Thomas W. Arnold:
“…Of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the Caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christendom throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of the [Mohammedan] governments towards them”*
The special treatment of the people of the Book – Jews and Christians- is very well known in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (S). Moreover, history witnesses that the Muslim land has always been a safe haven for Christians and Jews. There is not a single incident of persecution of the people of the Book under the Muslim rule recorded in history unless it was a persecution led by an unjust ruler against all people, Muslims and non-Muslims.
(*)The Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith, Westminster A. Constable & Co, London, 1896, p.80.
From the book Terrorism: An Islamic Perspective by Imam Hamid Slimi