When the religion of Islam that has been sent as a salvation from the presence of Allah is explained to a person, he believes on his own will and decides without being subjected to any kind of compulsion or duress. People are free to choose truth or error. If they make the wrong choice, they will face its consequence in the Hereafter.
Islam ascribes total freedom of will to people on faith in a very clear cut and plain language. This approach prevailing right from the period of Islam's revelation to our day is the foundation of Islamic morals.
Verses in regard to this subject are very clear:
According to the Islamic morality, people are free to choose whatever beliefs they wish, and nobody can oblige anyone else in subjects of belief. When a Muslim meets someone whom he wants to have faith, he only has the liability to communicate Islam and to explain the existence of Allah, to state that the Qur'an is the book of His revelation, that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is His messenger, to explain the existence of the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment and the beauties of the Islamic morality. However, such liability is only restricted to communicating the religion. In one verse (Surat an-Nahl), Allah informs us that our Prophet (pbuh) also is only a messenger: Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way. Your Lord knows best who is misguided from His way. And He knows best who are guided. (Surat an-Nahl, 125)
Another verse states, "... It is the truth from your Lord; so let whoever wishes believe and whoever wishes do not believe..." (Surat al-Kahf, 29) And our Lord addresses our Prophet (pbuh) as, "Perhaps you will destroy yourself with grief because they will not become believers." (Surat ash-Shu'ara',3).In the Surah Qaf Allah issues our Prophet (pbuh) this reminder:
When the religion of Islam that has been sent as a salvation from the presence of Allah is explained to a person, he believes on his own will and decides without being subjected to any kind of compulsion or duress. People are free to choose truth or error. If they make the wrong choice, they will face its consequence in the Hereafter. On this subject, one verse of the Qur'an contains the clearest command and reminder:
For example, one person may immediately come to believe in the face of a believer's preaching, while another mocks and attacks it. One person may use his conscience and decide to live in the way that is pleasing to Allah, while the other may join the deniers and respond to fine words with ugly ones. But that denial will never inspire despair or sorrow in the person issuing the call. In Surah Yusuf Allah says:
What's important is that no matter what reaction he meets with, the person who abides by the Qur'an keeps on displaying the kind of morality that is pleasing to Allah, refuses to make any concessions on it, and puts his trust in Allah. Allah has told us that His religion is to be explained "in the kindest way" as revealed in the Qur'an: "Argue with the People of the Book only in the kindest way--except in the case of those of them who do wrong--saying, "We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are One and we submit to Him." (Surat al-'Ankabut, 46)
We must not forget that all events, great or small, happen in the framework of the destiny created by Allah. And it is Allah who bestows salvation on someone who is invited to believe. For that reason, believers are never troubled by deniers' behavior. There are many instances of this in the Qur'an. In the verse "Perhaps you may destroy yourself with grief, chasing after them, if they do not have iman in these words"(Surat al-Kahf, 6), Allah tells the Prophet (pbuh) not to be troubled if the people he calls on to believe in the Qur'an fail to do so. In another verse we are told "You cannot guide those you would like to but Allah guides those He wills. He has best knowledge of the guided." (Surat al-Qasas, 56) Therefore, one's invitation, fine words and all the details one set out will only have any effect in the event that Allah so wills it. (Harun Yahya, Only Love Can Defeat Terrorism)
The only responsibility of a believer is to call people to the Qur'an. He bears no responsibility for deniers persisting in their denial and therefore earning punishment in the Hereafter. Our Lord reveals this to the Prophet (pbuh) in the verse "We have sent you with the Truth, bringing good news and giving warning. Do not ask about the inhabitants of the Blazing Fire." (Surat al-Baqara, 119).
Allah has given mankind both reason and a conscience. His messengers and the Divine books revealed to them have shown the true path, and people are responsible for their own choices. Islamic morality can be lived only by a sincere decision to do so--by surrendering oneself to Allah and listening to one's conscience, which always commands one to do what is right. It is a total violation of Islamic morality to force anyone to believe, because what matters is an individual's surrendering himself to Allah with all his heart and believing sincerely. If a system were to force people into a religion and worship, people would appear to be religious because of their fear of the system.
From a religious perspective only religiosity lived for Allah and based on free and conscious choice is acceptable. Allah says the following to our Prophet (pbuh) in the Surat al-Ghashiyya:
It also needs to be emphasized that Islam leaves people free to make their own choices regarding religion and commands them to respect other religions. Even if someone believes in a superstitious faith, as the Qur'an describes it, still he can live in peace and security in Muslim lands and freely perform his own religious obligations. In verses Allah commanded our Prophet (pbuh) to tell those who denied Him:
Under the morality of Islam, everyone is free to carry out his religious obligations in accord with his own particular belief. Nobody can prevent any others from performing their particular religious duties, nor can he oblige them to worship in the manner he desires. That violates the morality of Islam, and is unacceptable to Allah. In the Islamic history a model of society emerges in which everyone is free to worship and perform the obligations attendant upon his particular chosen beliefs. In the Qur'an Allah describes monasteries, churches, synagogues, and the places of worship of the Peoples of the Book as all under Allah's protection:
Our Prophet's (pbuh) life is full of such examples. When Christians came to see him, he left his own mosque for them to use and pray in it. That kind of tolerance was maintained during the times of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs who succeeded the Prophet (pbuh). After Damascus was captured, a church that had been turned into a mosque was divided into two, so that Christians might worship in one half and Muslims in the other. (You can obtain detailed information on the subject from the web site www.harunyahya.com, which is based on the works of Harun Yahya.)
Our Prophet (pbuh) Was Full of Love and Tolerance
In the Arabia of the time of our Prophet (pbuh) there were communities with many different faiths, cultures and ways of thinking. Jews, Christians, Sabaeans, Nestorians and pagans all lived side by side. There were also many tribes that were hostile to one another despite sharing the same faith. (Harun Yahya, The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh))
But our Prophet (pbuh) called everyone to the deen with the same affection, patience, tolerance and love, no matter what their religion or tribe is. This excellent attitude of the Prophet Muhammed (pubh) is described thus in the Qur'an as:
A Muslim only has a responsibility to describe the deen of Allah. The other person will only come to belief and salvation by the will of Allah. Nobody can compel anyone else to believe or to worship. Our Prophet (pbuh) was punctilious about this command of Allah, and often said that people could only live by the deen when they did so voluntarily. In one hadith our Prophet (pbuh) says:
"I was sent as a tolerant, seeker after Allah (one from the faith of the prophet Ibrahim(as)), and whoever opposes my Sunna is not one of us." (El-Cami's Sağir, 1. 427)
Elsewhere he tells believers "I was sent to be compassionate and a peace-maker..." (El-Cami's Sağir, 1. 427). This superior moral virtue of the Prophet (pbuh) is expressed as follows: "Someone who responds with gentleness (who controls his earthly passion) when angered will merit the love of Allah!" (Esbahani: Hazrat Aysha)
There are many hadith concerning the compassionate, loving and tolerant qualities of our Prophet (pbuh). For example, the Prophet (pbuh) says: "Allah will have no compassion on he do has no compassion for other people." (Buhari and Muslim) Other passages read: "Be merciful, that you may be shown mercy. Forgive, that you may be forgiven. Shame on those who speak too much. Shame on those who know their sins but presist in them." (Ramuz El Hadis, Vol. 1)
"Allah is loving and merciful, He loves gentleness, and what He gives from gentleness He gives with nothing else." (Kütübi Sitte Translation and Commentary, Vol. 7)
The great Islamic scholar Imam Gazali summarizes the information he collected in the hadith regarding our Prophet's (pbuh) attitude to those around him: "He was far from knowing anger and quickly showed compassion for things. He was the most loving of men toward other people. He was the most auspicious of men and did the most good to others, and the most useful and beneficial to others." (Huccetül Islam Imam Gazali, İhya'u Ulum'id-din, Vol. 2)
The human love, consideration and affection of our prophet (pbuh) that bound those around him to the deen and warmed their hearts to faith is a superior moral virtue that all Muslims must concentrate on. These moral virtues of our Prophet (pbuh), a role model for all mankind, are revealed in Surat at-Tawba: "Your suffering is distressing to him; he is deeply concerned for you; he is gentle and merciful to the muminun." (Surat at-Tawba, 128)
Love, affection, tolerance and compassion are shared virtues among the envoys sent by Allah as guides to salvation. Allah reveals in the Qur'an that He has bestowed "sensitivity to love" on other prophets, and cites the Prophet Yahya(as), on whom He bestowed knowledge from His presence, as a model on this subject. He describes this holy personage as having "...tenderness and purity from Us - he was devout." (Surah Maryam, 13)