Religious freedom is the basic human right whose violation has caused conflicts, wars and bloodshed in both ancient and modern societies. The Quran, therefore, has declared for the first time in human history:
‘There shall be no coercion in matters of religion.’ (2:256).
The Quran also states clearly, “To you your religion and to me mine.” (109:6).
The principle that we obtain from the above verses of the Quran is generally referred to, in today’s context, as religious freedom.
In view of this prohibition of coercion (Ikrah), all Islamic jurists (Fuqaha) without any exception hold that forcible conversion is under all circumstances null and void. Any attempt to coerce a non-believer to accept Islam is a grievous sin, (Ahkam al-Quran, al-Jassas). According to this principle of ‘non-coercion’, it is not permissible to exploit or manipulate personal weaknesses or calamities (e.g. poverty, sickness, famine, etc.) for religious conversion. That is why old and downtrodden non-Muslims were exempted from taxes and given all monetary support by the Islamic state without ever being asked to embrace Islam just for the advantages it would give them.