Muslims often project Islam as the religion of peace. But can this be true in the light of the historical evidence in the form of wars during the early Islamic history? Let’s evaluate.
Mohammed migrated to Medina from Mecca in the year 622 A.D. This migration is called Hijra, and 622 is the first year of the Islamic calender. The first year of the Islamic calender does not start with the year Quran was given to Mohammed, year 610 A.D or the year Mohammed gave the public proclamation to embrace Islam 613 A.D or the year 620 A.D when the Prophet is claimed to have visited heaven. These do not mark the watershed moment in Islam. But 622 A.D does.
The migration to Medina in the year 622 A.D resulted in a paradigm shift in the life of Mohammed and the Muslims. Until then Mohammed and his followers were a persecuted bunch. Some of them had already migrated to the Christian empire of Abyssinia for refuge. This migration happened twice. But after Mohammed migrated to Medina in the year 622 A.D., his life changed. He acquired power. He became a ruler. Once he became a ruler, a series of battles followed. These include:
624: Battle 1 of Badr. Expulsion of the Bani Qainuqa Jews from Medina. The direction of prayer is converted from Jerusalem to Mecca.
625: Battle 2 of Uhud. Expulsion of Banu Nadir Jews from Medina.
627: Battle 3 of the Trench. Invasion of Banu Qurayza.
628: Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. Battle 4 of Khaybar. Muhammad sends letters to various heads of states.
629: Muhammad pilgrimage to Mecca. Battle 5 of Mu’ta.
630: Conquest of Mecca. Battle 6 of Hunayn. Battle of Autas. Siege of Ta’if.
632: Battles 7 of Zu Qissa.Battles of Zu Abraq. Battle 8 of Buzakha. Battle 9 of Zafar. Battle 10 of Naqra. Campaigns against Bani Tamim and Mosailima.
633: Campaigns 11 in Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, and Hadramaut. Raids 12 in Iraq.Battle 13 of Kazima, Battle of Mazar, Battle 14 of Walaja, Battle 15 of Ullais, Battle 16 of Hira, Battle 17 of Al-Anbar, Battle 18 of Ayn al-Tamr, Battle 19 of Dawmat al-Jandal, Battle 20 of Firaz.
634: Battle 21 of Bosra, Battle 22 of Damascus, Battle 23 of Ajnadin. Death of Abu Bakr. Umar ibn al-Khattab assumes power as the second caliph. Battle 24 of Namaraq, Battle 25 of Saqatia.
635: Battle 26 of Bridge, Battle 27 of Buwaib, Conquest of Damascus, Battle 28 of Fahl.
636: Battle 29 of Yarmuk, Battle 30 of al-Qādisiyyah, Conquest 31 of Madain.
637: Conquest 32 of Syria, Conquest 33 of Jerusalem, Battle 34 of Jalula.
638: Conquest 35 of Jazirah.
639: Conquest 36 of Khuzistan. Advance into Egypt. Plague of Emmaus.
640: Battle 37 of Babylon in Egypt.
641: Battle 38 of Nihawand; Conquest 39 of Alexandria in Egypt.
642: Conquest 40 of Egypt.
643: Conquest 41 of Azarbaijan and Tabaristan (Mazandaran).
644: Conquest 42 of Fars, Kerman, Sistan, Mekran and Kharan. Assassination of Umar. Uthman ibn Affan becomes the caliph.
646: Campaigns 43 in Khurasan, Armenia and Asia Minor.
647: Campaigns 44 in North Africa. Conquest of the island of Cyprus.
648: Campaigns 45 against the Byzantines.
650: First conflict 46 between Arabs and Turks. Khazars defeated an Arab force led by Abd ar-Rahman ibn Rabiah outside the Khazar town of Balanjar.
656: Uthman is killed. Ali ibn Abi Talib becomes the fourth caliph. Battle 47 of the Camel.
657: Ali shifts the capital from Medina to Kufa. Battle 48 of Siffin.
658: Battle 49 of Nahrawan.
659: Conquest 50 of Egypt by Muawiyah I.
660: Ali recaptures 51 Hijaz and Yemen from Muawiyah. Muawiyah I declares himself as the caliph at Damascus.
669: Hasan ibn Ali, the second imam of the Shiites is poisoned and killed. Husayn ibn Ali becomes Imam of Ali ibn Abi Talib’s followers.
670: Advance 52 in North Africa. Uqba bin Nafe founds the town of Kairouan in Tunisia. Conquest 53 of Kabul.
672: Capture 54 of the island of Rhodes. Campaigns 55 in Khurasan.
674: The Muslims cross the Oxus. Bukhara becomes a vassal state.56
677: Occupation 57 of Samarkand and Tirmiz. Siege 58 of Constantinople.
682: North Africa Uqba bin Nafe marches 59 to the Atlantic, is ambushed and killed at Biskra. The Muslims evacuate Kairouan and withdraw to Burqa.
687: Battle 60 of Kufa between the forces of Mukhtar and Abd Allah ibn Zubayr. Mukhtar killed.
691: Battle 61 of Dayr al-Jaliq. Kufa falls 62 to Abdul Malik.
692: The fall 63 of Mecca. Death of ibn Zubayr. Abdul Malik becomes the sole caliph.
695: Kharijites’ revolts in Jazira and Ahwaz. Battle 64 of the Karun. Campaigns 65 against Kahina in North Africa. The Muslims once again withdraw to Barqa. The Muslims advance 66 in Transoxiana and occupy Kish.
700: Campaigns 67 against the Berbers in North Africa. By the end of this century, global Muslim population had grown to 1 per cent of the total
So Islam caused 67 battles between 622 A.D to 700 A.D. Most of them with non-Muslims and they were conquests in the name of Islam. 622 A.D was the year the first caliphate of Islam was established, and that became the defining moment of Islam. This shows that Islam perceives itself as a political force, not just a spiritual movement. Being political and conquering nations in the name of Islam was the most defining thing in Islam, and that is why the establishment of the caliphate is the first year in the Islamic calender as opposed to Christianity where the birth of Jesus is the first year of the Christian calender.
Moreover, it can be safely implied that Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a political religion and remains to this day, a political religion. It still aims at world conquest and the establishment of the Islamic caliphate. Islam should be rightly called the religion of war. War defines how Islam spread so fast as opposed to Christianity, which spread by missionaries and martyrs who would not take up sword. Only after the politicization of Christianity, 350 to 400 years after Christ was Christianity used for war, and this was against the teaching of Christ. That is the primary reason why the earlier Christians did not indulge in violence or conquests. War and conquest were not and still are not a part of the true religion of peace: Christianity.