Questions and Answers > Is the Qur'an trustworthy? > Contradictions Qur'an 1-15

Qur’an 3:20 - Do we need to accept Islam or not?

There are different answers to this question in the Qur’an:

Acceptance of Islam not necessary - Qur’an 3:20

“And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants.” (Qur’an 3:20) No, Allah warns not to disturb those who do not accept Islam. This verse gives the message to leave non-Muslims alone and informs that it is not necessary to be a member of Islam. The last words of the verse are "And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants." This means that a Muslim should not try to win non-Muslims for Islam, because Allah know who are saved to Paradise. This is in agreement with other Qur’an verses that Christians are sure about going to Paradise (Qur’an 2:62, 2:82, 5:69).

Acceptance of Islam necessary - Qur’an 8:38-39

“Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] - then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place. And fight them until there is no fitnah and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah . And if they cease - then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do” (Qur’an 8:38-39). Yes, we need Islam, because only by acceptance of Islam Allah will forgive.

Muslim responses

Qur’an 8:38-39 was revealed in reference to the pagans of Arabian Peninsula. There was a warning to the people to live without their idols. They were a threat to the Muslims, because the idol-worshipers were in a great majority and could kill the Muslims. However, a historical analysis of the Qur’an motivates to do a historical research of the complete Qur’an and no Muslim scholar could refute that the Qur’an is a compilation of Christian, Jewish and pagan Arab resources and contains nothing new. The historical analysis of the Qur’an explains the many errors and will not support a harmonization of Qur’an verses.


There is a difficulty in the Qur’an about the obligation to accept Islam. One verse is telling us it is necessary, while another verse is telling us that it is not necessary at all. Therefore the verses are a contradiction in the Qur’an. The above mentioned verses reflect the different historical sources of the Qur’an.


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