Among Islamopologists and their ill- informed band- wagoners, Surah 2, verse 256 is routinely referred to, as a shining example of the peace and tolerance inherent in Islam. However, peaceful interpretations of this verse are fallacious in nature, and attempts to present this factually incorrect viewpoint, further excuse and ultimately enable Islamists.
The frequently quoted verse reads; “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing”. The first aspect of the verse; ‘There should be no compulsion in religion’ is the most celebrated and revered aspect among pro- Islam and left- wing circles, with it purportedly providing compelling evidence of the justice, and respect for all other faiths, instilled within the Islamic religion.
On face value, this seems to be a reasonable assertion, as ‘there shall be no compulsion in religion’, appears to genuinely resonate with democratic principles of freedom of religion and worship.
Nevertheless, for 2 major reasons, this verse is fundamentally flawed, and totally at odds with the values, that Islamic advocates claim it represents. The following verse, Surah 2: 257, largely departs from this theme of good will, stating; “Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. And those who disbelieve – their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darknesses. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein”. Regardless of the preceding pleasantries of Surah 2: 256, Surah 2: 257, is essentially declaring that those who choose to disbelieve in the religion of Islam will ‘abide eternally’ in the hellfire. This is hardly a moderate and considerate position to take; proclaiming that individuals are to either agree in the divinity and truth of Islam, or face eternal punishment.
Idealist aspirations to peacefully interpret Surah 2: 256, are further discredited, when taking into account the principle of abrogation within the entire Quran. Abrogation, which refers to the approach by which contradictory earlier verses, have their meaning and messsage replaced by later verses, is outlined in Surah 2: 106, which states; “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?”. Given the myriad of violent verses revealed after 2:256, including 8:12 9:5, 9:29, and 47:4, which infamously commands Muslims to ‘strike at the necks’ of disbelievers, among many others, it is clear, that the abused slogan of ‘let there be no compulsion in religion’, is nothing but a cherry- picked, selective, and erroneously used catchphrase.