FREEDOM TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THE TRUTH
Here also it is put beyond doubt that the perfect truth has been revealed by God and that man is free to accept it or to reject it. But the warning is added that those who wrong themselves and do not carry out the true demands of their nature and adopt the ways that obstruct their progress and lead them away from God, would deprive themselves of God's love and of the gardens of God's pleasure. For them a fire has been prepared within which they are confined.
These two verses have been addressed to people to whom Islam was presented for the first time. Those to whom the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, brought the message of Islam were not Muslims. They were told: This is the truth; this is the right guidance. These are the ways of approaching God Almighty. These are the ways of the fulfillment of your natural demands. Treading along them you will become the true servants of God. I invite you to them. It is for you to enter within the circle of Islam or to keep out of it. If you enter it with faith and sincerity of heart and act in accordance with it, it would be to your own good. If you do not adopt these ways and will not tread along them, the loss would be yours. The ways that you adopt, other than these, would lead you away from God and will bring you to hell.
Thus everyone has been told that all the doors for entering the circle of Islam are open to him. There is no one who would obstruct his entry through those doors. The decision must be his and once he has decided he can enter freely. There is no power which would compel anyone by force, or threat of force, to enter that circle. God does not permit it. If anyone desires to enter the circle of Islam, to accept it and to make it obligatory upon himself, no one can stop him. If someone does not desire to accept it, no one can force him. No one can make anyone a Muslim by force. This is the teaching of Islam. The guidance that God has set forth in the Holy Quran is clear that no power can make a person a Muslim by force.
The purpose of the creation of the universe would be frustrated if man were not to be bestowed the freedom that distinguishes him from the angels. These verses indicate that there is no power that can obstruct anyone from entering into the circle of Islam and there is no power that can block the door of entry forbidding ingress to it. Thus it is not permissible that anyone should arrogate to himself the authority to exclude by force from the circle of Islam anyone who affirms that he is a Muslim and sincerely acts according to the teachings of Islam. God Almighty has not bestowed this power upon anyone. According to Islamic teaching and the law of the Holy Quran, God . Almighty regards any such action as vicious and contrary to His will. These verses have clearly pro- claimed that everyone is free to affirm his faith voluntarily. or to proclaim his denial without restraint. No compulsion is permissible in either case. No non-Muslim can be forcibly converted to Islam, nor can any Muslim be forcibly declared a non-Muslim.
Is it open to a person who has become a Muslim to abjure Islam after having declared his faith in it? Or, will he be subject to compulsion that having once recognized the Truth and the light that is contained in the Holy Quran, he is no longer at liberty to depart from Islam? Does Islam leave the door of egress open, or does it close it altogether? The Holy Quran says: Many of the people of the Book, after the Truth has become manifest to them, would desire, out of sheer envy generated by their minds, that after you have believed, they could turn you into disbelievers. But do forgive them and forbear till Allah sends down His decree. Surely, Allah has full power to do all that He wills (2: 100).