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A forced conversion is the religious conversion or acceptance of a philosophy against the will of the subject, often with the threatened consequence of earthly penalties or harm. These consequences range from job loss and social isolation to incarceration, torture or death. Typically, such a conversion entails the repudiation of former religious or philosophical convictions.[citation needed]


There is no support in the Bible for forced conversion[citation needed], but there have been historical attempts by Christians to force the religious conversion of individuals, groups, and entire populations.

Pope Innocent III, who denounced forced conversions[citation needed], pronounced in 1201 that even if torture and intimidation had been employed in receiving the sacrament, one nevertheless:

...does receive the impress of Christianity and may be forced to observe the Christian Faith as one who expressed a conditional willingness though, absolutely speaking, he was unwilling. ... [For] the grace of Baptism had been received, and they had been anointed with the sacred oil, and had participated in the body of the Lord, they might properly be forced to hold to the faith which they had accepted perforce, lest the name of the Lord be blasphemed, and lest they hold in contempt and consider vile the faith they had joined.[1]

The "New Christians" were inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula (Sephardic Jews or Mudéjar Muslims) during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era who were baptized under coercion, becoming Conversos or Moriscos. In spite of their new faith, they were suspected by the "Old Christians" of being Crypto-Jews or Crypto-Muslims. Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497.[2]

Religious persecution took place by the Portuguese in Goa, India from 16th to the 17th century. The natives of Goa, most of them Hindus were subjected to severe torture and oppression by the zealous Portuguese rulers and missionaries and forcibly converted to Christianity.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Charlemagne regarded the repelling of pagan invaders and their absorption and conversion as part of his obligation as defender of the faith and he forced the Saxons and Frisians to convert to Christianity.[9]

The economic conquest of the Americas by various European forces coincided with and depended on conversion of the natives. Some of these conversions were forced.[citation needed]



Early Islamic scripture and law forbids forced conversion.[10] A verse of the Qur'an (Template:Cite quran) is frequently cited: "Let there be no compulsion in religion".[11][12][13][14][15] Karen Armstrong asserts that after Muhammad's death, nobody in the Islamic empire was forced to accept the Islamic faith.[16]

"The majority of the scholars of Qur’anic exegesis and law hold that the command to preach peacefully and to never coerce a person in his of religion was never abrogated and continued to hold sway through the end of the Prophet’s life and beyond" [17].


In practice, forced conversions have been very common throughout all Islamic history, although it was but rarely official government policy.[10][18] Noted cases include the conversion of Samaritans to Islam at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa,[19][20] conversions in the 12th century under the Almohad dynasty of North Africa and Andalusia, as well as in Persia under the Safavid dynasty where Sunnis were converted to Shi'ism[18] and Jews were converted to Islam.[21] A form of forced conversion became institutionalized during the Ottoman Empire in the practice of devşirme, a human levy in which Christian boys were seized and collected from their families (usually in the Balkans), enslaved, converted to Islam, and then trained for high ranking service to the sultan.

There is dispute amongst scholars as to whether the famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides converted to Islam in order to freely escape from Almohad territory, and then reconverted back to Judaism in either Israel or in Egypt.[22] Maimonides wrote a book on apostasy wherein he advocated accepting forced conversion rather than suffer martydom, and to then seek refuge afterward at a place where it was safe. Sabbatai Zevi, an Ottoman Jew from Smyrna, was forced to convert to Islam, and had no opportunity to return to Judaism. Sabbatai, a charismatic figure, had many followers,and ultimately claimed to be the messiah. He went to Constantinople where the Sultan placed him in a prison in Abydos. He gained his freedom by accepting Islam, along with his wife, and was then further forced to take a second wife to verify his true conversion.

K. S. Lal, alleged in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India that between the years 1000 and 1500 the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million in the Indian Subcontinent due to forced conversion to Islam and widespread slaughter of Hindus who resisted conversion. Although Simon Digby criticized the book in a review in "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies",[23] saying that even though Mr. Lal was a very competent historian of medieval India, the available information and the number of variables involved was far too great for any such account to be accurate.

During Tipu Sultan's invasion of Malabar in the late 18th century, he forcefully converted over 400,000 Hindus to Islam.[24][25][26]

Twenty-first century allegations


Forced conversion is not permitted in Buddhism and is rarely if ever attempted for religious reasons. However, in Burma in recent years the military dictatorship has strongly encouraged the conversion of ethnic minorities, often by force, as part of its campaign of assimilation.[27][28]


The Baptist Church of Tripura is alleged to have supplied the NLFT with arms and financial support and to have encouraged the murder of Hindus, particularly infants, as a means to depopulate the region of all Hindus.[29] In 2009, the Assam Times reported that about fifteen armed Hmar militants, members of Manmasi National Christian Army, tried to force Hindu residents of Bhuvan Pahar, Assam to convert to Christianity.[30] Few Christian evangelists in India have been accused forced conversion of Hindus.[31][32] Archbishop Moras, refuting these allegation of forced conversions and the charges of conversions against the Christian missionaries, said "We do not believe in forced conversions" "It is easy to charge people with wrong allegations but difficult to stop evil powers that are working against Christians".[33]


There has been a great controversy in India in the past few years about the enforcement of anti-conversion laws by several Indian states which were made specifically to prevent people from leaving Hinduism and converting to other faiths,[34] even though freedom of religion in India is supposed to be a fundamental right guaranteed by the country's constitution.

Indian Christians have alleged that "radical Hindu groups" in Orissa, India have forced Christian converts from Hinduism to "revert"[35] to Hinduism. These "religious riots" were largely between two tribal groups in Orissa, one of which was predominantly Hindu and another predominantly Christian, over the assassination of a Hindu leader named Swami Lakshmanananda by Christian Maoists operating as terrorist groups in India (see Naxalite).[36] In the aftermath of the violence, American Christian evangelical groups have claimed that Hindus are "forcibly reverting" Christians to Hinduism.[35] However, some local Christian groups have dismissed these allegations.[37]


In 2001 the Indonesian army evacuated hundreds of Christian refugees from the remote Kesui and Teor islands in Maluku (province) after the refugees stated that they had been forced to convert to Islam. According to reports, some of the men had been circumcised against their will, and a paramilitary group involved in the incident confirmed that circumcisions had taken place while denying any element of coercion. [38]

In 2004 Coptic Christians in Egypt occupied the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo for several days, angry at the disappearance of a priest's wife in a village in the Nile delta, who, they alleged, had been forced to convert to Islam. The BBC reported that allegations of forced conversions of Copts to Islam surface every year in Egypt.[39]

Other notables among these have been the cases of Iraq's Mandaeans,[40] Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians, Christians of Pakistan [41] and Assyrian Christians of Iraq[42][43][44] who have faced coercion to convert to Islam.[45][46]

In 2006 two journalists of the Fox News Network had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. After conversion they were made to read statements on videotape proclaiming that they had converted, after which they were released by their captors.[47] In 2007, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, a right-wing Hindu leader in India, received a letter from Jaish-e-Mohammed, threatening him with death if he did not convert to Islam.[48]

In May 2007, members of the Christian community of Charsadda in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, close to the border of Afghanistan, reported that they had received letters threatening bombings if they did not convert to Islam, and that the police were not taking their fears seriously.[49] Although eventually no actual action was taken on that threat by the terrorists.

There have been numerous reports of Islamic attempts to forcibly convert religious minorities in Iraq. In Baghdad, Christians have been told to convert to Islam, pay the jizya or die.[50][51][52] In March 2007 the BBC reported that people in the Mandaean religious minority in Iraq alleged that they were being targeted by Islamist insurgents, who offered them the choice of conversion or death.[53]

On October 2009 it was reported that Muslim groups in the Indian state of Kerala have been engaging in a "Love Jihad", whereby Muslim men were trained to seduce college-going Hindu and Christian girls to marry them and forcibly convert to Islam.[54] Both Hindu and Catholic Christian groups in the state expressed alarm at this trend and have been working together to protest this trend. The High Court in the state has resolved to probe the matter. The primary Islamic group currently being held responsible for this is the Islamic extremist front Popular Front of India, a conglomeration of radical Islamist groups disguised as civil rights groups that are dedicated to implementing Islamic Sharia law in Hindu majority India.[55] The Catholic Church in Kerala has joined up with Hindu groups in order to combat this trend.[56] Such cases of "Love Jihad" have reportedly started to occur in the neighboring state of Karnataka as well.[56]

Sikhs in Pakistan, concentrated in the Lahore area, have been constantly under a threat to convert to Islam.[57] As jizya was legalized by the Government of Pakistan in 2009, the Taliban have been kidnapping minority communities to claim this tax;[58] while officials use a significantly pro-Islam constitution to encourage conversions without direct participation.[59]

See also


  1. Grayzel, Solomon, The Church and the Jews in the Thirteenth Century, rev. ed., New York: Hermon, 1966, p. 103
  3. Of umbrellas, goddesses, and dreams: essays on Goan culture and society‎ Robert Samuel Newman, 2001
  4. The Goa Inquisition, Being a Quatercentenary Commemoration Study of the Inquisition in India by Anant Priolkar, Bombay University Press
  5. Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India‎ Kalyani Devaki Menon, 2009
  6. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay 1967
  7. M. D. David (ed.), Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity, Bombay, 1988, p.17
  8. Between ethnography and fiction: Verrier Elwin and the tribal question in India‎ Tanka Bahadur Subba, Sujit Som, K. C. Baral, North Eastern Hill University. Dept. of Anthropology - Social Science
  9. Stanley Sandler (1 July 2002). Ground warfare: an international encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 173–. ISBN 9781576073445. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Waines (2003) "An Introduction to Islam" Cambridge University Press. p. 53
  11. Sir Thomas W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam
  12. Marshall G. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam
  13. Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples
  14. Ira Lapidus, History of Islamic Societies
  15. L.S. Starorianos, A Global History, the Human Heritage
  16. Armstrong, A History of God: from Abraham to the Present: the 4000-year Quest for God, 1993, p. 185.
  17. "Is Forced Conversion an Islamic Teaching? [1]". Jihad and the Islamic Law of War. 2009.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Lewis (1984), p. 17, 18, 94, 95.
  19. M. Levy-Rubin, "New evidence relating to the process of Islamization in Palestine in the Early Muslim Period - The Case of Samaria", in: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 43 (3), p. 257-276, 2000, Springer
  20. Fattal, A.(1958) Le statut légal des non-Musulman en pays d'Islam, Beyrouth: Imprimerie Catholique, p. 72-73.
  23. Simon Digby's Criticism of Mr. K. S. Lal's book
  24. Goel, Sita (1993). Tipu Sultan: villain or hero? : an anthology. Voice of India. p. 38. ISBN 9788185990088.
  25. Sharma, Hari (1991). The real Tipu: a brief history of Tipu Sultan. Rishi publications. p. 112.
  26. Purushottam. Must India go Islamic?. P.S. Yog.
  27. Burma at the turn of the twenty-first century p.120 Monique Skidmore
  28. [2]
  29. Bhaumik, Subhir (April 18, 2000). "'Church backing Tripura rebels'". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
  30. Christianity threat looms over Bhuvan Pahar Assam Times - June 23, 2009
  31. India Pastor Jailed For Converting Hindus, Corpse Exhumed
  32. Indian couple detained on forced conversion charges
  33. Satisfied with govt action- Archbishop Moras
  34. Laws against conversion from Hinduism in India
  35. 35.0 35.1 the word revert is used in this context; not convert; see Older than the Church: Christianity and Caste in The God of Small Things India by A sekhar;Washington post article
  36. [3]
  37. "Orissa: Christian leaders disagree with US panel's report". Rediff News. 2009-08-14.
  38. Maluku refugees allege forced circumcision, BBC News Online, Wednesday, 31 January 2001 [4]
  39. Heba Saleh (BBC News, Cairo), 'Conversion' sparks Copt protest. BBC News Online 9 December 2004. [5]
  40. Iraq's Mandaeans 'face extinction'
  41. Taliban Tells Pakistani Christians: Convert or Die
  42. Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East : Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians
  43. The assault on Assyrian Christians
  44. Told to Convert or Die, 21 Assyrian Families Seek Shelter in Baghdad Churches
  45. "Maluku refugees allege forced circumcision". BBC News. 2001-01-31. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  46. 'Conversion' sparks Copt protest
  47. Kidnapped Fox journalists released
  48. "Ram Janambhumi trust chief threatened". Times of India. PTI. 22 Nov 2007.
  49. Report on Fox News, from AP
  50. Told to Convert or Die, 21 Assyrian Families Seek Shelter in Baghdad Churches
  51. The assault on Assyrian Christians - International Herald Tribune
  52. The Religion Report - 30 May 2007 - Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East : Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians
  53. BBC News on-line 7 March 2007
  54. "'Love Jihad' racket: VHP, Christian groups find common cause". The Times Of India. 13 October 2009.
  55. [6]
  56. 56.0 56.1 [7]
  57. Father pleads for help after kidnapping
  58. US Religious Freedom Commission to Pakistan: Protect Your Sikhs
  59. Persecuted by all

ja:強制改宗 ru:Принудительное обращение

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